Everything You Need to Know about Nicotinamide Mononucleotide
Chances are you have heard or read a lot about NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), a cofactor that is central for metabolism and of huge significance for our health and wellbeing. The level of NAD in our body decreases with age, but supplementation with its precursors can help slow down the aging process and improve our overall health in more ways than one. Not all NAD precursors are equal; some of them are well-known to many, while others are not. Nicotinamide mononucleotide is not a frequently mentioned term, and many consider it a new kid on the block. What is it? How does it help us? Scroll down to learn more.
What is nicotinamide mononucleotide?
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a nucleotide that is naturally formed by the reaction between a phosphate group, a nucleoside containing ribose (a type of simple sugar) and nicotinamide (a form of vitamin B3 or niacin). In human cells, NMN is available as a source of cellular energy. However, this particular molecule was known mainly for its activity as an intermediate in the biosynthesis of NAD+ not so long ago. During the process of NAD+ biosynthesis, NMN functions as a significant substrate for enzymes without which the human body would not be able to use NAD+. You’re probably going to hear and read a lot about NMN in the upcoming period due to the fact that this substance could open up a new horizon in modern therapeutics, thanks to various health benefits it provides. Supplementation with NMN supports overall health, produces anti-aging effects, and helps improve the overall quality of life.
One of the most notable benefits of NMN supplementation is the anti-aging effect that has been scientifically confirmed. A study from the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology found that NMN is retained in the body longer than nicotinamide and thereby exhibits an anti-aging role which requires further investigation.
A growing body of evidence confirms that NMN, a vital NAD+ intermediate which decreases with age, is an effective therapy against age-related diseases. Supplementation with NMN has the potential to alleviate age-related type 2 diabetes, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and to aid management of Alzheimer’s disease. That being said, the underlying mechanisms associated with NMN efficacy are still relatively unknown. Studies suggest NMN can promote the expansion of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which can differentiate various cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cells in cartilage), and adipocytes (fat cells). Nicotinamide mononucleotide can rejuvenate old MSCs and contribute to the treatment or prevention of age-related diseases.
Heightened cognitive performance
A significant role in healthy cognitive function belongs to the adjustment of cerebral blood flow to neuronal activity through the neurovascular coupling. As we age, oxidative stress increases and disrupts the processes that are necessary for proper cognitive function, thus leading to cognitive decline. Evidence shows that the decreased presence of NAD+ has a meaningful role in a wide range of age-related cellular impairments. That’s why increasing levels of NAD+ can heighten cognitive performance, particularly in older men and women. Evidence confirms that supplementation with NMN rescues neurovascular coupling responses by elevating endothelial nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation (dilated blood vessels). This led to improvements in spatial working memory and gait coordination. Basically, taking NMN supplements can lead to higher NAD+ levels and better cognitive function.
Reduced age-related weight gain
Excessive weight gain and obesity are major health concerns worldwide, as more and more people carry excess weight. Factors that contribute to weight gain are numerous but mainly revolve around a sedentary lifestyle and an unhealthy diet. Advancing age can also make us more susceptible to weight gain, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, cancers, and other health conditions. Supplementation with NMN can decrease age-related weight gain in a dose-dependent manner. In one study, 100 and 300 mg/kg dose of NMN taken for 12 months reduced body weight by 4% and 9%, respectively. Research also shows that NMN can improve certain metabolic complications associated with obesity, but more studies are needed to learn more about the true potential of this compound on weight management.
NMN vs. nicotinamide riboside (NR)
As mentioned above, not all NAD precursors are equal, so it’s easy to wonder about the differences between NMN and NR and whether one of them is better than the other. It would be difficult to choose the winner here because both NMN and NR have their own advantages. For instance, NR is highly available in the human diet, and its cellular permeation is straightforward due to the fact that nicotinamide riboside doesn’t require conversion to other intermediates. Moreover, NR is more widely studied in terms of safety and efficacy, while NMN is still a subject of research, especially in regards to whether it is safe or what dosages induce side effects. It’s worth mentioning that NMN has some benefits that NR doesn’t and vice versa.
One of the biggest differences between NMN and NR is that the latter is a vitamin while NMN is not. Furthermore, NR is the biggest part of NAD that can enter cells, which could explain why NMN supplements are converted to NR before the body uses them to produce NAD. While NMN makes NAD in three steps, NR requires only two. This leads us back to the fact that NMN is converted to NR first before entering the cell. Then, in the cell, it transforms back to NMN and then produces NAD.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide or NMN is an important precursor of NAD and a substance our body requires for good health, particularly as we age. Studies about NMN confirm it can exhibit anti-aging effects, aid management of type 2 diabetes, weight gain, cognitive decline, and other age-related problems. Supplementation with NMN can prevent various health concerns that would occur due to advancing age. Of course, more studies on this topic are necessary in order to evaluate its true potential. As far as NR is concerned, the two compounds have many differences but also have a lot of benefits, and it could be said one complements the other.