What Is NMN? A Look Into the Supplement in Delaware and Beyond

The vitamin B3 derivative is getting major attention for its reported benefits, which advocates say includes everything from enhanced blood flow to better vision.

Touted as an elixir of youth, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) dietary supplements are drawing rapt attention from folks who want to live fitter longer and intense scrutiny from government regulators.

NMN, a vitamin B3 derivative found naturally in avocados, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers and edamame, is converted by the body into cellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a co-substrate for enzymes that are key to the aging process.

Kids under age 16 have lots of naturally occurring NAD+. The rub is NAD+ levels fall to less than half that amount by the time people hit middle age, and wrinkles, aches and pains, and weight gain creep in. The theory behind NMN supplements is that when NAD+ levels go up, it slows the aging trajectory.

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Citing limited scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned NMN as a supplement in the U.S. in 2022, saying the substance should be considered a drug and undergo rigorous testing. Amazon banned the product from its site, although NMN and nicotinamide riboside (NR), also an NAD+ precursor, are widely available online. The substance has not been banned in Canada or Europe.

Advocates say NMN contributes to enhanced blood flow, increased endurance, improved healing, more elastic skin, better vision and weight loss. Side effects can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, gas and upper respiratory issues.

Studies on mice show that NMN reversed signs of aging, restoring blood flow and increasing endurance. Essentially, elderly mice who were given NMN were soon outperforming younger mice, amping up their treadmill time by up to 60%. Research published in Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal says “orally administered NMN is quickly synthesized into NAD+ in tissues in mice. NMN has been able to suppress age-associated weight gain, enhance energy metabolism and physical activity, improve insulin sensitivity, improve eye function, improve mitochondrial metabolism, and prevent age-linked changes in gene expression.”

NMN Wonderfeel
Engineered by cellular-health scientist and Harvard professor Andrew Salzman, M.D., Wonderfeel combines NMN, resveratrol and vitamin D3 to protect against issues related to oxidative stress and inflammation, two major causes of cellular decline and aging. Courtesy of NMN Wonderfeel

A small study on humans published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition examined the impact of NMN on amateur runners during training. In a six-week experiment, 48 runners ages 27 to 50 took oral NMN supplements at 300, 600 or 1,200 milligrams per day, or a placebo.

Runners who received NMN in addition to their regular exercise had increased aerobic capacity compared with runners who received the placebo. Runners administered higher doses showed the greatest benefit.

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Early studies suggest taking NMN supplements at doses of up to 1,200 milligrams daily may offer health benefits related to diabetes, aerobic function and fatigue, with low risk of side effects. In theory, individuals who are too elderly or physically frail to exercise could realize the same cardiovascular gains they would reap from regular workouts.

Other research indicates substances that boost NAD+ show promise far beyond a leg up on physical fitness.

A University of Delaware researcher who worked with a team at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded that the dietary supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR) can enter the brain, offering hope for people at risk of Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain diseases.

The discovery was made by Christopher Martens, director of the Delaware Center for Cognitive Aging Research, and Dimitrios Kapogiannis, M.D., a senior investigator at the National Institute on Aging, a division of NIH. Their work was published in the journal Aging Cell.

“The brain is particularly vulnerable to alterations in NAD+ content during aging due to the high energetic demand of neurons, and brain-specific decline in NAD+ concentration during aging has been reported in several species, including humans,” Martens and his co-authors wrote. “Restoring brain NAD+ concentration using the dietary NAD+ precursor nicotinamide riboside (NR) has shown strong efficacy in animal models and has improved key features of neurodegenerative disorders.”

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David Sinclair, a Harvard researcher whose reports of rejuvenation of mice created a stir, has reported that he takes 1,000 milligrams of NMN each morning with yogurt mixed with the supplement resveratrol, a compound from red grapes reported to confer anti-aging benefits in studies on rodents.

There’s also evidence that wellness enthusiasts can increase their NMN without supplements. Research published in Physiological Reports says levels of NAD+ in older adults were higher after a 12-week regimen of aerobic and resistance exercise.

Before making supplements a part of your wellness regimen, talk with a healthcare professional about your personal needs and goals so you can weigh the risks and benefits. If you opt to take supplements, look for products that have been lab-tested to determine their purity.

Related: 11 Ways to Promote Brain Health in Delaware

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