NAD+ is one of the most vital molecules in the human body as it plays a significant role in the functionality of our nervous system, insulin secretion, fertility, and many other aspects that keep us healthy. Although it's a naturally occurring molecule, it's known to dwindle over time, with NAD+ levels slowly decreasing as we age.
An essential part of our metabolism NAD+ requires the help of biosynthetic precursors such as NR and NMN. The NAD+ levels in our body play a big role in how we age inside and out, and if we're able to manage healthy levels of this molecule in the body, it could lead to a longer and healthier life. This article is going to explore the differences between NR and NMN and why they're so vital for our long-term health.
The Structure of the Molecules
One major difference between the two molecules is their structure. They may both be important precursors to NAD+, but NMN has been shown to be more effective and efficient at restoring or maintaining NAD+ levels through consistent supplementation. When you compare the two, their molecule structures are relatively similar, but NMN has a standout feature that NR does not. NMN contains a phosphate group that is an essential aspect of what makes it a more effective choice to raise NAD+ levels in the body.
It’s known that this phosphate group makes NMN a larger molecule, but it does not prevent it to enter the cells. In 2019, Alessia Grozio was part of the team who discovered a transporter that carries NMN directly into cells : the Slc12a8 gene. NMN in itself has shown to perform better than NR as part of the last step of the biosynthesis in the “Salvage Pathway”. Indeed, when entering into the cell, NR needs to be converted to NMN before transforming into NAD+ through the enzymatic activity of NMNAT.
NMN is also known to be a much more stable molecule than NR, and although both are beneficial at raising NAD+ levels, NMN continues to be the option of choice for many scientists and industry experts alike.
To expand on that, when taken as an oral supplement, NR doesn't seem to hold up well as it passes through various stages in the body. It primarily gets broken down into NAM, which is a form of Vitamin B3. By the time the NR that's left has reached the bloodstream, it isn't doing too much to raise NAD+ levels. With NMN, the molecule has shown to retain its integrity when taken orally and does a better job of raising NAD+ levels in numerous areas of the body, whereas NR tends to raise NAD+ in the blood alone.
How are The Molecules Absorbed?
If taken as an oral supplement, a very minimal amount of NR will make it past the gut. As stated above, a majority of it is broken down into NAM, but what’s left will eventually get turned into NAM as it reaches the liver. As you can see from this alone, it doesn’t make NR a viable outlook for supplemental solutions. NMN takes the same path that NR does, but much more of it makes it to various parts of the body while doing a better job of increasing NAD+ levels.
In some earlier studies on the molecules, many experts thought they couldn’t be administered orally. Yet, in our current era, it’s actually a suggested method of administration as it’s now known to be one of the best ways to supplement NMN molecules in the body. Both NR and NMN will always be needed, but in the pursuit of managing the natural effects of aging, it’s becoming evident that NMN will offer a leap in the anti-aging industry and the overall health of our bodies over time.
What’s really separating the molecules from a supplement perspective is the efficiency of how they perform and benefit the body. We aren’t questioning their importance in NAD+ levels, but if we’re looking to manage healthy levels of the molecule, it’s vital that we choose the route that provides the best results.
What’s Their Bioavailability?
Additional minor differences between the two molecules make NMN a much more bioavailable option than NR. In recent years, NMN studies have shown that a vital protein called SLC12A8 has been discovered in humans that can be used as a transporter for NMN molecules to move across cell membranes. This information also explains why NMN is more effective in various areas of the body due to the help of this specific protein.
For years, it was thought that the only way NMN could enter a cell was to convert to NR, but with the help of SLC12A8, the outlook on the molecule has changed forever.
Once the connection was made with the protein also being found in humans, this paved a new path for the bioavailability of the molecule. This furthers the molecule's effectiveness over NR, and NMN is quickly gaining the attention of many industries as its numerous health benefits become more widely known.
NMN supplements may not be seen as a worldwide solution to maintaining healthy aging, but they’ll quickly become a top choice as it is being adopted by many companies that are working on leading-edge anti-aging solutions. This entails more than just biotech companies, as others such as NASA are looking at NMN as an aid for astronauts to keep their DNA, cellular and long-term health in check while in space.
Many researchers and biotech companies focused on NR as it’s also known to be easier and cost-efficient to manufacture. Only in recent years has NMN become a more financially and economically friendly solution. This is also reflected in the cost of NMN products and treatments, but its wide applications still make it a top choice in managing our health.
The Next Step for NMN Supplements
With the help of many recent studies, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that NMN is one of the best solutions for maintaining our health and the effects of aging. Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of misinformation about the molecule online. Where you’ll find a majority of this misdirection is from companies that are more worried about pushing a product than telling the truth. For example, some articles reference how other precursors trump what NMN is capable of, making it a less than viable solution as a supplement. However, thorough studies explain otherwise, so it’s vital that you understand the true nature of the molecule.
Misinformation regarding our health has been rampant for years, and it has only gotten worse with the introduction of the internet. Whether it’s administered with a supplement regime or as a medical treatment, NMN is on its way to being the most effective anti-aging solution. As research continues to come to light, the way NMN is administered may be advised to provide better results, but it’s already catching the attention of many people worldwide.
It should also be known that a lot more time, money, and research has gone into NR over the years as it was initially thought to be an effective solution for anti-aging. When more research went into NMN and the narrative towards NR started to change, it put some experts, companies, and investors in a difficult position.
It isn't uncommon to find debates about which molecule is more beneficial, and some of this comes from the invested interest that has gone into the creation of NR supplements, treatments, and products. With NR becoming a less viable solution, quite a few companies and investors will end up on the losing end as they put their resources toward NR. Due to this, these same companies will continue to promote NR as that's still in their best financial interest.
This is to be expected to some degree, but eventually, the truth about NMN will become too apparent to ignore. In the meantime, it's crucial you know the true differences between NR and NMN, so you make the best choice for your health in the long run.