You may have heard all about Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) supplementation on a podcast or through social media. But what is it and should you take it? A dietitian reviews the evidence on NMN.
What is NMN?
NMN is a type of Vitamin B3 that naturally occurs in the body. It's being researched for its potential to slow down aging and prevent age-related diseases. When you consume NMN, your body can convert it into NAD+, a coenzyme crucial for various cell processes.
As we age, our levels of NAD+ decline, dropping to less than half by the time we hit middle age. This decline happens because we produce less NAD+ as we get older, possible due to oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. But there is also an increased consumption of NAD+ by enzymes that depend on it, creating a situation where there's not enough NAD+ to support optimal enzyme function.
Low NAD+ levels are linked to increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and the development of conditions like hypertension, cognitive decline, and type 2 diabetes. NMN, as a precursor to NAD+, has the potential to restore NAD+ to levels we see at younger ages. This is theorised to slow down the aging process.
What does the evidence say?
In animal studies, NMN has shown anti-aging effects, including improved insulin sensitivity, reduced inflammation, better mitochondrial function, and enhanced cognition. However, it's crucial to note that while the effects are well-established in rodents, ongoing studies are needed to determine if similar effects occur in humans. These benefits may not translate to humans!
Unfortunately, human trials with NMN have largely focused on safety. Some trials have shown promising results, such as improved physical ability and cardiovascular health in aging populations, but there are still more superior strategies out there to support with such goals. Therefore, I would no run out and buy NMN for this purpose yet! Large-scale trials are necessary for a better understanding of the benefits in humans.
Can we consume NMN in food?
NMN is naturally present in small amounts in foods like avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, and edamame. While it's generally considered safe in tested doses, caution is advised due to the limited long-term data, and high doses may pose risks, including liver toxicity. You should always consult your medical doctor and/or registered dietitian before taking!
NMN, a form of Vitamin B3, is being studied for its potential to slow down aging and prevent age-related diseases by restoring declining NAD+ levels in the body. While it has shown promising anti-aging effects in animals, more research is needed to confirm its benefits in humans.
Caution is advised, as long-term effects and potential risks of high doses are not yet well-understood. NMN is naturally present in small amounts in certain foods, but the amounts used in clinical studies are much higher.
As always, if you want to see me in clinic to discuss dietary strategies to support healthy ageing, please send me a message.