By Lindsay Christensen*
What if I told you that there was a supplement you could take to reverse symptoms of chronic disease, combat signs of aging, and increase your vitality well into your “golden years”? Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, in this case, the health benefits of the supplement in question, NMN, entirely live up to the hype! Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a derivative of the B-vitamin niacin that dramatically improves health and longevity by serving as a precursor to NAD+, a compound that plays a crucial role in energy production, metabolism, and gene expression in the body. Read on to learn about the many health benefits of NMN and how you can incorporate this powerful nutraceutical into your lifestyle.
The Biochemistry of NMN
To understand how NMN benefits the body, it helps to first have some background knowledge of the biochemistry of this potent compound.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a compound derived from ribose, a sugar, and nicotinamide, also known as vitamin B3. The human body has enzymes that use NMN to generate another compound, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide comes in two forms: An oxidized form (NAD+) which accepts electrons from other molecules and a reduced form (NADH) that donates electrons to other molecules. From here on I will refer to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide as NAD+, but remember that it does come in these two forms.
NAD+ has two crucial, primary functions in the body:
- NAD+ participates in redox reactions. Redox reactions are those that involve a transfer of electrons from one reaction or molecule to another. The most well-known redox reaction in the body is cellular energy production, which includes glycolysis, the citric acid cycle, and mitochondrial respiration. NAD+ serves a vital role in each of these components of energy production.
- NAD+ is a substrate for enzymes that add or remove chemical groups from proteins. For example, NAD+ functions as a cofactor for sirtuins, proteins that regulate DNA transcription, apoptosis, inflammation, and mitochondrial biogenesis and assist in the function of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, a group of proteins that regulate DNA repair and genomic stability.
Low NAD+ Leads to Disease and Aging
Research has found that NAD+ levels decrease in aging and certain chronic disease states. The loss of NAD+ limits redox reactions and deprives enzymes of the substrate they need to function correctly; this ultimately leads to an energy deficit that impairs DNA expression and repair, promotes inflammation, and downregulates metabolism. However, a growing body of research indicates that restoration of optimal NAD+ levels can reverse many of the symptoms associated with chronic disease and aging. How can we naturally boost the body’s levels of NAD+? The solution lies with NMN supplementation.
The Many Health Benefits of NMN
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) supplementation serves as a precursor to NAD+. When we boost NMN levels in the body, we can enhance the biosynthesis of NAD+ and alleviate symptoms associated with depletion of this crucial nutrient. In fact, NMN supplementation has been found to improve various parameters of health, including physical endurance and muscle strength, neurological function, heart health, insulin sensitivity, dyslipidemia, body weight, and gene expression.
Endurance and Muscle Strength
Decreased physical endurance and muscle strength are often considered to be “inevitable” symptoms of the normal aging process. However, recent animal research indicates that NMN can prevent these declines in aging mice. In fact, one study found that consumption of NMN enhanced endurance and muscle strength in aged mice to such a degree that they became as healthy as their much-younger peers! (1)(2)
Endurance and muscle strength are not the only physical symptoms impacted by the aging process; body weight, energy metabolism, blood lipids, insulin sensitivity, and vision are also adversely affected by the aging process. Excitingly, NMN supplementation has been found to suppress age-associated weight gain, enhance metabolism, improve insulin sensitivity and plasma lipid levels, benefit vision, and prevent adverse alterations in gene expression in aging mice. (3) These effects highlight the therapeutic potential of NMN as a beneficial anti-aging intervention for humans.
The human heart requires a continuous supply of ATP to fuel its muscular contractions and sustain life. Interruptions in the heart’s ATP supply can impair cardiac and vascular function and contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. By enhancing the biosynthesis of NAD+, an essential substrate in ATP-producing reactions, NMN boosts cardiac ATP levels and significantly improves heart health. In fact, supplementation with NMN may even prevent myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) and heart failure! (7)(8) Importantly, NMN also reduces arterial aging and vascular dysfunction, two phenomena that play crucial roles in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease. (9)
Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
In pancreatic beta cells, NAD+ regulates insulin secretion in response to the ingestion of dietary glucose. (10)(11) NAD+ also governs insulin activity and glucose homeostasis in skeletal muscle, the liver, and adipose tissue. Research indicates that the normal biosynthesis of NAD+ is severely compromised in diabetic individuals, leading to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. By restoring NAD+ levels in skeletal muscle, the liver, and adipose tissue, NMN improves insulin sensitivity and may help reverse the course of diabetes. NMN also corrects dyslipidemia, a condition in which cholesterol and triglycerides are elevated in the bloodstream. (12)(13) Dyslipidemia and insulin resistance are key features of metabolic syndrome, a disorder that afflicts a whopping 35 percent of U.S. adults and significantly increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Finally, NMN normalizes the expression of genes that govern circadian rhythms and decreases oxidative stress and inflammation; altered circadian rhythms, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation are three of the most important underlying causes of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. (14) These fascinating findings indicate that NMN can play an essential adjunct role, alongside dietary and lifestyle changes, in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Your DNA serves as the blueprint for your body’s physiological function. When DNA expression goes awry due to factors such as an unhealthy diet, environmental toxins, and aging, your body’s blueprint is intrinsically altered; this disrupts normal body function and contributes to the development of chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and neurological dysfunction. NMN helps prevent adverse changes in gene expression by repairing damaged DNA. (15)
Weight gain and weight loss resistance are common struggles for countless Americans. NMN is a powerful nutraceutical ally in weight loss efforts because it reverses insulin resistance, improves glucose tolerance, and ameliorates mitochondrial dysfunction, three factors that contribute to stubborn weight issues. (16)(17)
While most of the available research on NMN involves animal studies, human clinical trials have been undertaken, and the results are expected to be released within the next year. In the meantime, the plethora of beneficial effects demonstrated by NMN in animal studies, and the complete lack of adverse effects, suggests that NMN supplementation may be a valuable tool to add to your healthy lifestyle today!
Lozenges Significantly Enhance NMN Bioavailability
Oral NMN capsules have been available for a few years now. However, it turns out that the NMN in these capsules is largely digested in the stomach, meaning very little reaches the small intestine intact, where it can be absorbed and utilized by the body. Lozenge delivery of NMN significantly enhances the bioavailability of NMN because it allows the compound to be absorbed into the blood vessels underneath the tongue. This means that the NMN avoids digestion in the gastrointestinal tract and can be more rapidly delivered to the bloodstream.