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Who doesn’t want to live forever? Yes, we are all going to age but there’s no reason why it can’t be a healthy and enjoyable process. As we find ways to age gracefully, one ingredient that’s a trending topic of conversation in aging and longevity circles is NMN, which stands for nicotinamide mononucleotide, with more and more aging experts examining its potential to promote our longevity and protect our health span. 

What is nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN)?

NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) is a naturally occurring molecule. NMN is a precursor to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which is a fundamental molecule involved in many bodily processes. With age comes the declining levels of NAD+ as by age 50, our NAD+ levels are half of what they were when we were in our 20s.

As NMN is necessary for the production of NAD+, NMN can work to protect the body from health issues and other age-related conditions and provide additional benefits. 

Health Benefits of NMN

NMN can be a great anti-aging therapy, and that’s because supplementing with it can maintain healthy levels of NAD+. In doing so, it may lead to the following health benefits for your body;

It may promote longevity

DNA
Photo by Warren Umoh on Unsplash

DNA damage has been found to contribute to aging, so attention is being placed on how repairing your DNA can help to delay premature aging. One way would be to activate sirtuins, a group of proteins that research indicated may help influence longevity in humans.  

A study examined the association between NAD+ and sirtuins, and how that can influence aging. According to the findings, healthy NAD+ levels activated sirtuins, which then promoted longevity in yeast, worms, flies, and mice.  

It may protect brain health

Low levels of NAD+ have been found to affect brain function, leading to memory loss, poor concentration, and other neurological effects. An animal study even found an association between depleting NAD+ levels and the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. 

As low levels of NAD+ may hinder cognitive function, the consensus is that increasing these levels may have the opposite effect. According to a study published in Redox Biology, NMN supplementation helped to improve cognitive function in aged mice. As we know, NMN can help to increase NAD+ levels, and this then suggests that NAD+ can be an effective therapy for patients with cognitive impairment. 

It may protect heart health

With heart disease being the leading cause of mortality worldwide, it is important to find ways to mitigate the risk, one of which may include managing the body’s levels of NAD+.

Broken Heart Syndrome | Longevity LIVE
S_L/Shutterstock

Cardiovascular diseases are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and according to a mice study published in Circulation Research, NAD+ may serve to improve mitochondrial function. As such, researchers believe that NAD+ may be used as an effective therapy for cardiovascular diseases.

It may keep your eyes healthy 

Declining levels of NAD+ may play a role in the eye-related issues, such as vision loss, that come with aging.  However, replenishing levels of NAD+ may help to protect your vision as you age.

According to a study from Harvard Health, administering NMN helped to protect against night blindness, which can progress to complete blindness.

It may encourage stem cell rejuvenation

Stem cells help to keep us healthy, but with aging, they lose the ability to regenerate and this can lead to age-related conditions. One way to ensure that our stem cells maintain the ability to regenerate is by replenishing levels of NAD+.

Research has indicated that boosting NAD levels can improve stem cell self-regeneration, which, in turn, may help to boost health and longevity. 

probiotics | Longevity LIVE
Rommel Canlas/Shutterstock

NMN vs NAD supplements

It should be noted that the majority of the aforementioned benefits were found for NAD+, not necessarily NMN. 

That said, an anti-aging expert suggested that taking NAD supplements doesn’t lead to the same potential benefits, but taking NMN supplements might.

Speaking to Healthline, Professor Andrew Salzman, MD, a Harvard Medical School alumni and anti-aging drug inventor, said that NAD levels cannot be increased by delivering NAD either orally or by IV — because NAD has no mechanism for entering the cell.

“However, it can be done by providing the starting material for NAD, which is NMN. Cells have evolved a receptor for NMN — it’s a special protein on the surface of the cell which attaches to NMN and shuttles it into the cell. Once inside, NMN is converted by cellular enzymes to create NAD.”

So do NMN supplements work in humans?

The research is promising, however, it is still relatively new and limited. The existing research has found that NMN supplementation may increase aerobic capacity and improve sleep quality. A recent study even found that the intravenous administration of NMN is not only safe, but it may lead to the prevention and treatment of diseases associated with increased blood triglyceride levels, such as fatty liver and diabetes.

However, these studies are not enough to go off on, especially if you’re looking for scientific credibility to take NMN supplements.

In any case, there is no reason why you shouldn’t add an NMN supplement to your day, especially because there are currently no side effects of the supplement documented in humans. 

liver disease
Photo by Artem Podrez

How can I naturally increase my NMN levels?

If you are interested in the anti-aging effects of NMN but have no desire to use supplements, then you can turn to natural food sources. While research has found that in rodents, their gut absorbs NMN readily, more studies are needed to see if eating NMN-rich foods may increase NAD levels.

In any case, NMN can be found in the following foods:

  • avocados
  • broccoli 
  • cabbage
  • cucumbers
  • edamame
  • tomatoes
avocados | Longevity LIVE

Takeaway

Research has found that NMN can have health-positive effects, due to its ability to influence NAD+ levels.

That said, this research is animal-based and more human-based studies are still needed. However, if you do plan on adding NMN supplements, make sure to speak to your doctor before you do.

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Any Lane

Want to know more?

Nicotinamide mononucleotide is not the only compound getting attention due to its potential to boost lifespan. As of 2003, there has been great interest in resveratrol and how it may boost your longevity.

References

Chen, X., Amorim, J. A., Moustafa, G. A., Lee, J. J., et al (2020). Neuroprotective effects and mechanisms of action of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) in a photoreceptor degenerative model of retinal detachment. Aging12(24), 24504–24521. https://doi.org/10.18632/aging.202453
Grabowska, W., Sikora, E., & Bielak-Zmijewska, A. (2017). Sirtuins, a promising target in slowing down the ageing process. Biogerontology18(4), 447–476. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-017-9685-9
Hou, Y., Lautrup, S., Cordonnier, S., Wang, Y., et al. (2018). NAD+ supplementation normalizes key Alzheimer’s features and DNA damage responses in a new AD mouse model with introduced DNA repair deficiency. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America115(8), E1876–E1885. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1718819115
Igarashi, M., Miura, M., Williams, E., Jaksch, F., et al. (2019). NAD+ supplementation rejuvenates aged gut adult stem cells. Aging cell18(3), e12935. https://doi.org/10.1111/acel.12935
Imai, S., & Guarente, L. (2014). NAD+ and sirtuins in aging and disease. Trends in cell biology24(8), 464–471. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tcb.2014.04.002
Kim, M., Seol, J., Sato, T., Fukamizu, Y., Sakurai, T., & Okura, T. (2022). Effect of 12-Week Intake of Nicotinamide Mononucleotide on Sleep Quality, Fatigue, and Physical Performance in Older Japanese Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients14(4), 755. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14040755
Kimura, S., Ichikawa, M., Sugawara, S., Katagiri, T., et al. (2022). Nicotinamide Mononucleotide Is Safely Metabolized and Significantly Reduces Blood Triglyceride Levels in Healthy Individuals. Cureus14(9), e28812. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.28812
Liao, B., Zhao, Y., Wang, D., Zhang, X., Hao, X., & Hu, M. (2021). Nicotinamide mononucleotide supplementation enhances aerobic capacity in amateur runners: a randomized, double-blind study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition18(1), 54. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00442-4
Shade C. (2020). The Science Behind NMN-A Stable, Reliable NAD+Activator and Anti-Aging Molecule. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)19(1), 12–14.
Tarantini, S., Valcarcel-Ares, M. N., Toth, P., Yabluchanskiy, A., et al. (2019). Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) supplementation rescues cerebromicrovascular endothelial function and neurovascular coupling responses and improves cognitive function in aged mice. Redox biology24, 101192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2019.101192
Tong, D., Schiattarella, G. G., Jiang, N., Altamirano, F., et al. (2021). NAD+ Repletion Reverses Heart Failure With Preserved Ejection Fraction. Circulation research128(11), 1629–1641. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.317046
Yousefzadeh, M., Henpita, C., Vyas, R., Soto-Palma, C., et al. (2021). DNA damage-how and why we age?. eLife10, e62852. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.62852
Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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