NMN supplements are being touted as a way to help your body turn back the biological clock, but how much should you be taking?
Wouldn’t we all love to turn the body clock back a few notches. Well, now it seems we can, or at least slow it down, thanks to a growing number of supplements which boost levels of NMN in the body in order to increase the supply of NAD+. While each of these supplements make bold statements, do they actually have any benefits and what are the potential side effects?
What is NMN?
NMN is a precursor of another molecule called NAD+. Research has shown that this could be critical in holding back the process of aging. As we grow older, our bodies naturally become more susceptible to various diseases, heart conditions, obesity and many other problems.
NAD+ could hold the key to preventing them. It is consumed by key enzymes which are critical in repairing damage to DNA, fuelling up our cells and keeping our metabolic and immune systems ticking over nicely. One of the reasons that we experience more health issues as we age is that levels of NAD+ naturally decline.
If we can keep those NAD+ levels reasonably high, we can slow down that process and even, in some situations, start to wind it back a little. This is where NMN comes into play. It is an NAD+ precursor that the body uses to produce more levels of NAD+.
Benefits of NMN supplements
Studies so far have hinted at a number of NMN benefits including:
- Lowering obesity: Increased levels of NMN stimulate the metabolic system which enhances the body’s ability to turn food into energy and can be a tool in reducing the risk of obesity. However, this should happen alongside an active lifestyle and healthy diet.
- Reducing the risk of heart disease: The heart works 24/7 throughout your life without a breather. It produces huge amounts of energy and will need all the NAD+ it can get its hands on.
- Improving fitness and muscle endurance: Our bones and muscles consume glucose and fatty acids in order to continue functioning. NAD+ helps them to be metabolized into the system. Without it, everything slows down and muscle endurance declines.
Inside the body NAD+ produced by NMN supplements stimulates the activity of mitochondria which are critical to our metabolisms. They transform glucose into energy and serve as the batteries of the cell. Without them, cells would lack energy and would die.
It also activates sirtuins which repair our DNA. Each time our cells divide our DNA becomes a little bit shorter. Eventually, these begin to damage our DNA. Sirtuins reduce this process by stabilising these ends known as telomeres. Studies in mice show that feeding them NMN can elongate telomeres, offsetting the risk of damage to DNA.
Side effects of NMN supplements
Some NAD boosting supplements – when taken at high levels – have been reported to have side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, flushing, stomach discomfort and indigestion. However, people involved in studies with NMN supplements have reported no significant side effects at dosages of 500mg and more.
Harvard Professor David Sinclair, speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast, claimed to take as much as one gram of NMN every day with only an occasional upset stomach to show for his pains, but his experiences refer only to him.
In terms of clinical trials, a human study in Japan found no ill effects at doses up to 500mg, while another study into endurance found issues at dosages of up to 1200mg. Research is still ongoing, but there are not currently any significant safety fears over NMN supplements.
The biggest safety concern, though, surrounds the number of cheap and fake imitations out there. Products are available which make the same claims, but at a fraction of the price. Many of these are not pure NMN but have been bulked out with other compounds. These could have safety issues if the manufacturer has not been clear about what’s in there. To be safe look for recognized brands and those which have been independently approved.
While there have been no side effects reported there is still no consensus on what the right amount of NMN is. Supplement providers will often make their own recommendations about correct levels based on their own research and observations. Some will suggest varying the doses by weight with heavier people being recommended higher doses.
NMN supplements will often come in sizes between 100gm and 500mg with doses of between one and six tablets recommended. Check the manufacturer’s label to see how much they recommend taking.
Rather than being concerned about safety, though, many people will be focusing more on cost and understanding how much NMN is necessary in order to achieve a desired effect. Because NMN is so difficult to manufacture, products tend to be fairly expensive. You will therefore be keen to ensure you take as much as you need and no more.
Clinical understanding of NMN supplements is still evolving with each trial and piece of research enhancing our knowledge a little bit further. What those studies have revealed so far is that it appears to offer genuine benefits in terms of health and life span and that side effects are very few.