The aging population is more prevalent today, including in the US; one statistical report shows that one in six Americans is over 65. However, decades of research on improving life expectancy have culminated in this demographic shift but did not account for longevity.
Longevity extends beyond a long lifespan to incorporate healthy, disability-free aging. Aging as it often includes a decline in functionality and disease development. Consequently, researchers are shifting gears toward delaying the onset of age-related decline, and NMN supplementation features prominently among potential remedies.
So, does NMN supplementation counter aging-related decline, and how? Keep reading to learn more.
What Is NMN?
Before delving into the science behind NMN as a potential anti-aging remedy, begin by defining NMN. So, what is NMN?
NMN or nicotinamide mononucleotide is a precursor to NAD+ biosynthesis in the human cell. NAD+ is a co-enzyme that catalyzes mitochondrial activities in the cell, including converting food from the body’s storage sources like glucose and white adipose tissue into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to facilitate energy production.
According to one publication on NMM’s role in NAD+ activation, the body rapidly absorbs oral NMN and converts it into NAD+ to facilitate cellular mitochondrial functions and other physiological processes.
Therefore, NMN supplements are available in various oral variations, including capsules, powders, lozenges, and tablets. Moreover, the supplements may be available as blends featuring additional ingredients, like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, that enhance their function. Also, the supplements may feature absorption-enhancing technology like liposomal capsules.
So, where does the NMN in NMN supplements come from? Like other enzyme precursors or zymogens, NMN occurs naturally in various organisms in the human diet. Such foods include fruits and greens like avocados, cucumbers, broccoli, tomatoes, and edamame. Moreover, it also occurs in animal protein sources like beef, shrimp, and milk.
The NMN content in such food sources occurs in trace amounts unlikely to have a clinically insignificant effect in slowing aging. Therefore, NMN supplements are a better way to consume the zymogen. Moreover, being a protein, NMN brands may consider using biotechnology techniques like recombinant protein expression to synthesize vegan NMN.
How Does NMN Work? NMN Mechanism Of Action
As stated above, NMN is a precursor for NAD+ biosynthesis. NAD+ plays various roles in maintaining cell health, including:
- Catalyzing metabolic functions across various metabolic pathways
- DNA repair
- Gene expression via chromatin remodeling
- Supporting immune function
- Redox balance
The highlighted functions help prevent cell damage, death, and senescence. However, NAD+ downregulation (reduction in biosynthesis) increases with aging.
According to one publication on NAD+’s role in aging and age-related disease prevention, aging causes NAD+ degradation by increasing CD38 (cluster of differentiation 38) activity. CD38 is a glycoprotein on the cell’s surface, and its extracellular activity results in the degradation of natural NAD+ precursors, including NMN.
NAD+ is a coenzyme for sirtuin hormones (SIRT1, 2, and 3), which are protective enzymes that counter oxidative stress and inflammation in the cell while facilitating DNA repair. Therefore, NAD+ downregulation due to low NMN levels reduces sirtuin activity, leaving cells vulnerable to cellular damage.
NMN supplementation potentially increases the NAD+ precursor’s availability, countering the latter’s age-related down-regulation. According to a literature review on oral NMN administration, previous mice models on MNM supplementation may increase NAD+ levels in various body organs, including whole blood.
Moreover, the study highlights that oral NMN supplementation may improve the symptoms of various age-related health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Additionally, the review highlights that no participants in NMN clinical trials experienced adverse effects during or after the trial. However, it recommends more human studies to substantiate NMN’s efficacy as an anti-aging agent.
NMN Potential Anti-aging Benefits
NMN research as a potential anti-aging agent is in its primary stages, but the available research substantiates the following potential NMN therapeutic benefits.
1. NMN Supplementation May Improve Metabolic Function
Aging causes muscle mass loss, yet the body relies on muscle cells to convert glucose and body fat into energy. Consequently, senior citizens experience lower energy levels due to decreased metabolic activity.
Metabolic activity primarily occurs in cell mitochondria, with age-related mitochondrial dysfunction as the leading cause of aging, especially in tissues that rely heavily on oxidative phosphorylation. Oxidative phosphorylation refers to metabolic pathways that include the conversion of food into metabolic energy. Moreover, the publication further highlights NAD+ downregulation as the primary cause of metabolic dysfunction.
However, NMN supplementation may help enhance metabolic function by restoring NAD+ levels. According to a study, long-term NMN supplementation with 250mg/NMN daily safely and effectively elevated NAD+ metabolism in healthy middle-aged adults.
2. NMN May Alleviate Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms
Besides low energy levels, age-induced metabolic dysfunction also causes central adiposity or fat accumulation along the abdominal area. The central adiposity, in turn, alters normal physiological functions, causing imbalances that culminate in metabolic conditions like obesity, insulin resistance, and type II diabetes.
NMN supplementation may help counter metabolic disorders. According to one literature review, NAD+ precursors like NMN show immense potential as nutraceuticals (food-derived compounds with additional health benefits) that restore NAD+ levels.
The review identifies NMN supplementation among the nutraceutical approaches that may counter age-related metabolic diseases by targeting NAD+ to improve mitochondrial function and sirtuin signaling. Sirtuin signaling delays cellular senescence (a phenomenon that pauses cells’ death and regeneration cycle) by regulating crucial cell processes like gene expression and DNA repair.
3. NMN May Improve Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular system cells are among the most affected by age. An aging, cardiovascular system experiences changes that result in stiff and thick muscles. Thick and stiff arterial walls and muscles are a risk factor for age-related cardiovascular problems like atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart failure.
One study established that NMN administration potentially preserves cardiac mitochondrial function, preventing heart failure. The mouse model study demonstrated NAD+ downregulation-related mitochondrial dysfunction and reduced SIRT3 activity. However, it also showed that NMN supplementation preserved mitochondrial structure, reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity, and prevented cell death.
4. NMN Supplementation May Counter “Inflammaging”
“Inflammaging” or age-related chronic inflammation is a risk factor for all the age-related health conditions highlighted above, and then some. While “inflammaging has numerous causes, cell senescence is a prominent cause. However, one study established that NMN supplementation might counter inflammaging by activating SIRT1.
Although NMN research is in its primary stages, the evidence highlighted above shows significant potential for anti-aging benefits. But consult a doctor before adding NMN supplements to your anti-aging wellness routine. Also, the dietary supplement industry remains highly unregulated, so only purchase high-quality NMN supplements from a trusted brand.