What is NMN and why is it vital to your health?

NAD+ and UV exposure – why sun protection is more than skin deep
In searching for ways to improve your wellbeing or slow down aging you may have come across NMN. A tiny molecule with huge impacts on your health, NMN is increasingly being credited as a new frontier in health treatment thanks to research showing its effects on wellbeing and longevity.
Here we’ll explore what NMN is, why it’s essential to your health, and how NMN can help make a difference to how long – and how well – you live.

What is NMN?

NMN stands for nicotinamide mononucleotide – a form of Vitamin B3 that occurs naturally in all living things. Your body uses NMN to make a molecule called NAD+, which every organism needs to survive. Because of its role as the raw ingredient for NAD+, NMN is what scientists call a ‘precursor’.

Why is NMN so important?

NMN is so critical to your health and wellbeing because it is the final step in the biological chain reaction your body uses to make NAD+.

NAD+ helps carry out the chemical reactions in your cells that turn food into energy (a process called metabolism).

This energy is used by your body for hundreds of processes you don’t even notice, like repairing damage, fighting infection, combating inflammation, fueling brain function, even warding off the effects of aging itself. There is almost no biological process that doesn’t need NAD+1.

The building blocks of good health

Being healthy isn’t just about diet and exercise. Your cellular health has perhaps the most powerful influence on your wellbeing and how long you live.

Your cells control how you move, how you feel, how you think and how you age. The more you can do to ensure that your cells are in good working order, the better your short and long-term health is.

That’s why it’s important to keep your body’s supplies of NMN and NAD+ plentiful – to power the hundreds of processes your cells perform which enable you to survive and thrive.

NAD+ declines with age

Unfortunately, the older we get, the less NMN and NAD+ we have in our body. By the time you’re 65 you have about half the NAD+ you had at 302.

The more your NAD+ pool is depleted, the less fuel there is to support the hundreds of processes which keep your body running. Declining NAD+ is one of the main drivers of the development of mitochondrial dysfunction (which causes many of the negative associations of aging like lost energy, poor sleep and reduced function of key organs and systems) and age-related diseases3, which all take a serious toll on your health.

Where do you get NMN from?

Some common vegetables and fruits like broccoli, cabbage and avocado contain a small amount of NMN. But with only 1 milligram of NMN per 100 grams, it’s far from the hundreds of milligrams (generally about 300 to 600 milligrams, depending on body weight) your body needs every day.

How to boost NAD+ naturally with NMN

Rather than eating the 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of avocado it would take to satisfy your daily NMN demands, it’s much more efficient (and way less filling) to take an NMN supplement.

Supplementing with NMN delivers a steady amount of the raw ingredient your body needs to naturally boost NAD+ levels, helping you maintain critical elements of your health.

A well-chosen NMN supplement – one with high standards to testing, quality and scientific rigor – can go a long way to helping you experience your best health.

Why can’t NAD+ be taken as a supplement?

Unfortunately, NAD+ can’t be used as a direct supplement because it is not easily absorbed. It’s too large to freely enter cells and is therefore unavailable to be used by your body in all the processes that benefit your health and aging.

How does NMN support health?

Supplementing with NMN has been shown to have profound effects on your wellbeing thanks to its ability to restore and maintain levels of NAD+ throughout your life.

Heart health

NAD+ has been shown to improve cardiovascular functions in humans. Studies have shown that disturbances in NAD+ in heart muscle are linked to dysfunction in the failing heart.

Research indicates that stabilizing NAD+ levels is a promising strategy to improving cardiac function4, and may be linked to beneficial impacts on heart conditions5.

Muscle repair

Your muscles need NAD+ (and the healthy mitochondria to which NAD+ is essential) to generate the energy they need to contract and relax. Multiple studies have shown that replenishing reduced NAD+ levels can help maintain muscle function6,7.

This is important because after age 30 you begin to lose around 3% to 8% of your muscle mass per decade. The rate of decline accelerates after you hit age 608. Less muscle means greater weakness and less mobility, reduced strength and exercise capacity, and increased risk of falls and fractures later in life.

Energy creation

One of the main roles of NAD+ is energy production. It carries electrons from one place to another, which makes it essential to creating not just the energy that helps you move throughout the day, but also the energy that powers the entire network of systems and organs which keep you alive and well.

The cellular ‘respiration’ process of turning nutrients into energy using NAD+ is the foundation of a healthy metabolism. In other words, NAD+ is the beginning of every energy-driven process that maintains health in your body.

Inflammation and immunity

As you age your immune system declines. You can get sick more easily, and it becomes harder to bounce back from illnesses. Because NAD+ declines with age, your body’s ability to manage the chronic and low-grade inflammation (called inflammaging; a key driver of many age-related diseases like hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and cancer9) is lessened.

Multiple studies have demonstrated that regulating NAD+ levels could be an effective strategy to control inflammaging. It has also been shown to help regulate diseases driven by chronic inflammation, such as neurodegenerative diseases and some cancers9,10,11

Brain health

NAD+ has been shown to play important roles in metabolic processes in your brain. It has positive effects on brain function such as transmitting messages between cells, learning, and memory12.

As you get older, particularly from middle age onwards, changes can start to occur within the brain that may trigger a gradual decline in mental capabilities. This is known as age-related cognitive decline, and it typically results in people becoming more forgetful and less mentally sharp. In severe instances, it can lead to dementia. By supporting metabolic processes in your brain NAD+ can support vital aspects of robust cognitive health12.

Insulin sensitivity

Insulin is an important hormone that controls many bodily processes. However, insulin problems are at the heart of many modern health conditions. When your cells stop responding properly to insulin it can disrupt the balance of blood sugar levels. This can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes, which in turn can result in other complications like heart and blood vessel disease, eye damage, kidney conditions, and more.

Treatment with NMN has been shown to substantially improve insulin sensitivity in pre-diabetic humans13. It has also been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity in subjects with age-related diabetes14,15. These results highlight NMN as an effective path for correcting declines in the way your body responds to insulin as you get older.

DNA repair

Encoded within your DNA are numerous processes that detect and repair damage inflicted by environmental and internal forces throughout your life. Yet, as good as your body is at repairs, the fix is not always perfect, and damage accumulates. Over time, repair systems fail to correct all the DNA damage and the result is aging and disease.

NAD+ is essential to DNA repair. The proteins in charge of the process use NAD+ as fuel to perform their vital functions16. When NAD+ is plentiful, it can also prevent the action of some proteins that meddle with your body’s ability to mend damaged DNA17. If NAD+ is not present in cells to stop this harmful interaction or to fuel repair, DNA breaks are not fixed. This can lead to cellular damage which drives the aging process itself.

Sleep

NAD+ helps regulate circadian rhythms, keeping important processes that rely on a 24-hour cycle (energy metabolism, hormone regulation, body temperature, even the production of NAD+ itself) in sync and working at their best.

A properly functioning 24-hour body cycle is important because misaligned circadian rhythms lead to sleep deprivation, which in turn can have profound consequences on your physical and mental health.

The future of NMN

A rapidly increasing number of clinical and preclinical trials have highlighted NMN as a promising way to counter age-associated diseases and support the foundations of your health. And with nicotinamide mononucleotide being just one small chemical reaction away from being NAD+ itself, both molecules continue to be intensively researched.

Thanks to its role in boosting NAD+, NMN’s potential to promote bodywide health, recharge energy, support healthy aging, spark vitality, balance immunity, support vital organ and system function, and nurture better sleep has made it a vital part of the daily health routines of people seeking better health, for life.

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References

1.    Hong W, Mo F, Zhang Z, Huang M, Wei X. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide: A Promising Molecule for Therapy of Diverse Diseases by Targeting NAD+ Metabolism. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2020;8:246
2.    Schultz MB, Sinclair DA. Why NAD(+) Declines during Aging: It's Destroyed. Cell Metab. 2016;23(6):965-966
3.    Chini CCS, Tarragó MG, Chini EN. NAD and the aging process: Role in life, death and everything in between. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017 Nov 5;455:62-74
4.    Walker MA, Tian R. Raising NAD in Heart Failure: Time to Translate?. Circulation. 2018;137(21):2274-2277
5.    Vignier N, Chatzifrangkeskou M, Morales Rodriguez B, et al. Rescue of biosynthesis of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide protects the heart in cardiomyopathy caused by lamin A/C gene mutation. Hum Mol Genet. 2018 Nov 15;27(22):3870-3880
6.    Romani M, Sorrentino V, Oh CM, et al. NAD+ boosting reduces age-associated amyloidosis and restores mitochondrial homeostasis in muscle. Cell Rep. 2021;34(3):108660
7.    Ryu D, Zhang H, Ropelle ER, et al. NAD+ repletion improves muscle function in muscular dystrophy and counters global PARylation. Sci Transl Med. 2016;8(361):361ra139
8.    Volpi E, Nazemi R, Fujita S. Muscle tissue changes with aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004;7(4):405-410
9.    Covarrubias AJ, Kale A, Perrone R, et al. Senescent cells promote tissue NAD+ decline during ageing via the activation of CD38+ macrophages. Nat Metab. 2020;2(11):1265-1283
10.    Minhas PS, Liu L, Moon PK, et al. Macrophage de novo NAD+ synthesis specifies immune function in aging and inflammation. Nat Immunol. 2019;20(1):50-63
11.    Elhassan YS, Kluckova K, Fletcher RS, et al. Nicotinamide Riboside Augments the Aged Human Skeletal Muscle NAD+ Metabolome and Induces Transcriptomic and Anti-inflammatory Signatures. Cell Reports. 2019;28(7):1717-1728.e6
12.    Qin W, Yang T, Ho L, Zhao Z, Wang J, Chen L, Zhao W, Thiyagarajan M, MacGrogan D, Rodgers JT, Puigserver P, Sadoshima J, Deng H, Pedrini S, Gandy S, Sauve AA, Pasinetti GM. Neuronal SIRT1 activation as a novel mechanism underlying the prevention of Alzheimer disease amyloid neuropathology by calorie restriction. J Biol Chem. 2006 Aug 4;281(31):21745-21754
13.    Yoshino M, Yoshino J, Kayser BD, et al. Nicotinamide mononucleotide increases muscle insulin sensitivity in prediabetic women. Science. Published online April 22, 2021
14.    Basu R, Breda E, Oberg AL, et al. Mechanisms of the age-associated deterioration in glucose tolerance: contribution of alterations in insulin secretion, action, and clearance. Diabetes. 2003;52(7):1738-1748
15.    Yoshino J, Mills KF, Yoon MJ, Imai S. Nicotinamide mononucleotide, a key NAD(+) intermediate, treats the pathophysiology of diet- and age-induced diabetes in mice. Cell Metab. 2011;14(4):528-536
16.    Wilk, A., Hayat, F., Cunningham, R. et al. Extracellular NAD+ enhances PARP-dependent DNA repair capacity independently of CD73 activity. Sci Rep 10, 651 (2020)
17.    Jun Li, Michael S. Bonkowski, Sébastien Moniot, Dapeng Zhang, Basil P. Hubbard, Alvin J. Y. Ling, Luis A. Rajman, Bo Qin, Zhenkun Lou, Vera Gorbunova, L. Aravind, Clemens Steegborn, David A. Sinclair. A conserved NAD+ binding pocket that regulates protein-protein interactions during aging. SCIENCE24 MAR 2017 : 1312-1317
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