How to Choose an NMN Supplement
Written and Reviewed by: Elysium Health
NMN supplements contain the molecule nicotinamide mononucleotide, a precursor to NAD+ that shows promise in supporting multiple aspects of human health. This guide covers the variables to consider when choosing an NMN supplement, from delivery method and dose to quality and purity.
- There are different methods of NMN delivery, but only oral supplementation has been clinically proven to be effective.
- Dosage varies across the NMN supplement market, so it’s important to know what is considered safe and effective in published clinical trials.
- The quality of supplements varies widely. Look for 3rd party certification to ensure quality and purity.
- Look for complementary ingredients that can support the beneficial effects of NMN.
- Signal: This daily, oral supplement combines 250mg of the NAD+ precursor NMN with a SIRT3 Activation Complex to boost NAD+ levels and promote mitochondrial health for healthy aging and metabolic support.
In the year 2000, Elysium co-founder Leonard Guarente, Ph.D., and members of his lab at MIT discovered the connection between NAD+ and sirtuins—a family of proteins that are crucial in maintaining cellular health. The discovery that sirtuins could only function in the presence of NAD+ was a “eureka moment” that paved the way for supplementing with NAD+ precursors for healthy aging. Since then, scientific papers about NAD+ have increased dramatically as researchers race to see how boosting NAD+ levels can impact health. The NAD+ precursor nicotinamide riboside (NR) came first—we launched Basis with NR in 2015—and now there are a number of supplements available containing nicotinamide mononucleotide, or NMN. We launched our NMN supplement, Signal, in 2022.
With so many options, from capsules to liposomal skin serums, how can you separate a groundbreaking health product from an NMN boondoggle? This guide to choosing an NMN supplement uses the available clinical research to inform your decision, covering all of the variables you may want to consider: delivery method, dose, quality and purity, and complementary ingredients.
What are NMN supplements?
NMN supplements contain the molecule nicotinamide mononucleotide, a nucleotide made up of a nitrogenous base (nicotinamide), a sugar (ribose), and a phosphate group. NMN is found naturally in our cells primarily in the nucleus, mitochondria, and cytoplasm. Its main role is as an intermediate or step in the creation of NAD+. In other words, NMN is a building block for NAD+.
The purpose of NMN supplements is to provide NMN—usually in capsule or powder form—that can be used for the creation of more NAD+. Some NMN products also contain other complementary ingredients. For example, the natural ingredients in Signal’s SIRT3 Metabolic Activation Complex—honokiol and viniferin—are designed to complement the NAD+ boosting effects of NMN by activating SIRT3. Together, the ingredients promote mitochondrial health and biogenesis, which in turn supports metabolic health.
What is NAD+?
The purpose of supplementing with NMN is to boost NAD+ levels. NAD+ is a coenzyme present in every living cell, from bacteria to birds to humans, and it plays an essential role in cellular energy metabolism and mitochondrial function. Without it: no cellular energy, no life. Beyond energy production, NAD+ is vital for maintaining healthy DNA, activating sirtuins, and fueling hundreds of integral processes at the cellular level.
NAD+ is essential to our health and survival, and research shows that by middle age we have about half the amount we had in our youth, a finding that’s been confirmed in various tissues, including the blood, skin, and brain. A recent study published in Nature Aging further supported the correlation between NAD+ levels and age—and concluded that NAD+ abundance is directly associated with a healthy aging status.
What are the benefits of NMN?
A variety of studies in humans and in animals suggest that there are many possible health benefits of nicotinamide mononucleotide. One important way that increasing NAD+ with NMN is helpful is that it promotes healthy metabolic aging at the cellular level by supporting mitochondrial health. As we age, our cellular metabolism becomes dysregulated and less efficient. NMN can help get your metabolism back on track.
Here are some human and animal studies on NMN and the reported potential benefits:
- Okabe et al., demonstrated in a human clinical trial published in Frontiers in Nutrition that 4 weeks of daily, oral supplementation with 250 mg of NMN resulted in a 40% increase in NAD+ levels in blood. No adverse events were observed.
- A human clinical trial published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition by Liao et al., examined the effects of NMN supplementation on middle-aged runners’ oxygen utilization capabilities. The results corroborate preclinical studies: Oral supplementation of NMN supports the body’s ability to absorb and use oxygen, which is important for athletic endurance. The effects were dose-dependent with greater effects observed at higher doses (600 or 1200 mg/day).
- Yoshino et al., demonstrated in a human clinical study published in the journal Science that oral supplementation with NMN provided metabolic benefits to aged women with prediabetes by supporting healthy muscle insulin sensitivity.
- A human clinical trial published in the journal Nutrients by Kim et al. investigated the impact of 12 weeks of NMN supplementation on sleep quality, fatigue, and physical performance in older Japanese adults. The study found that taking NMN in the afternoon improved lower limb function and reduced drowsiness.
- Another human clinical trial by Igarashi et al., published in npj Aging found an improvement in gait speed (translation: walking speed) in healthy, elderly men who took NMN for 12 weeks.
- Many animal studies have looked at the role of NMN in improving health. These preclinical studies show that NMN supplementation can, among other things, improve blood flow and increase athletic endurance in elderly mice, and support brown fat thermogenesis. Other animal studies show that NMN can enhance mitochondrial function; improve cognition; improve biomarkers in age-induced type-2 diabetic mice; protect kidney function; restore gene expression linked to circadian rhythm, inflammatory response and oxidative stress; and improve hepatic insulin sensitivity. Further research is needed to see whether some of these results can be extrapolated to humans.
Choosing an NMN supplement
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing an NMN supplement: delivery method, dose, quality and purity, and complementary ingredients.
NMN delivery method
NMN supplements are primarily available as capsules and in powder form. You’ll also find NMN supplements in chewable form, powder described as “sublingual,” intranasal spray, transdermal creams and serums, and liposomal formulations. A lot to choose from, right?
Here’s a factor that should influence your decision: The only delivery method tested to-date in the clinical trials mentioned above was oral supplementation of NMN in either powder or pill form (capsule or tablet). There is currently no published research on the safety or efficacy of NMN products taken sublingually (dissolved under the tongue), intranasally (in the nose), as lipsomal formulations (wrapped in a membrane of phospholipids), in chewable form, or as skin creams and serums. Furthermore, a preclinical study by Grozio et al., published in Nature Metabolism, identified an NMN-specific transporter (a molecule that enables NMN to enter cells) concentrated in the small intestine of mice, suggesting that the gut may indeed be “looking for NMN” from diet and possibly even the gut microbiome. Grozio et al., demonstrated that the orally administered NMN is immediately utilized for NAD+ biosynthesis. NMN can be found in small amounts in edamame, broccoli, cucumber, cabbage, avocado, and some fruit. Scientists think it’s possible that we get a sufficient amount of NAD+ precursors like NMN from our diet to support the NAD+ biosynthesis required for normal functioning, but not to replace the NAD+ lost with age.
Dosing varies across the NMN supplement market, so it’s important to know what is considered safe and effective in published clinical trials. Signal contains 250mg of NMN, which is consistent with dosing in peer-reviewed research. 250mg/day is also the amount that’s been shown to safely and effectively increase NAD+ levels by 40% in a clinical trial published in Frontiers in Nutrition by Okabe et al. This study also showed that discontinuation of NMN resulted in NAD+ levels falling to pre-supplementation levels, highlighting the importance of consistency in supplementation for long-term benefits. Here are the doses used in the clinical trials mentioned in the benefits section:
- Frontiers in Nutrition (Okabe et al.): 250 mg per day of NMN in tablet form over the course of 12 weeks
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (Yiao et al.): 300, 600, and 1200 mg per day of NMN powder (oral intake) over the course of six weeks
- Science (Yoshino et al.): 250 mg per day of NMN in capsule form over the course of 10 weeks
- Nutrients (Kim et al.): 250 mg per day of NMN in tablet form over the course of 12 weeks
- npg Aging (Igarashi et al.): 250 mg per day of NMN in tablet form over the course of 12 weeks.
NMN quality and purity
Supplements are not regulated as strictly as drugs. Drugs must be approved by the FDA before coming to market; in contrast, supplements are subject to manufacturing standards and rules against making false claims, but enforcement happens after a product is already on the market. In other words, it’s important that your trust the maker of your NMN supplement—and that they earn your trust. Reputable companies will publish their label claims and quality testing publicly, and they will rely on independent third-party certification to prove that what’s in the bottle is exactly what’s promised.
Our NMN product, Signal, is vetted by NSF Certified for Sport, the only independent third-party certification program recognized by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and recommended by major athletic organizations like the MLB, NFL, NBA, and more. The mark means that products don’t contain banned substances, the contents match the label, there are no unsafe levels of contaminants, and the product is manufactured at a facility that is GMP compliant and audited twice annually for quality and safety by NSF International.
Some NMN supplements contain complementary ingredients. If that’s the case, it’s helpful to look for a scientific explanation of why these ingredients are included. For example, Signal’s proprietary SIRT3 Activation Complex is designed to activate sirtuin 3, or SIRT3, a member of the sirtuin family of enzymes that depend on NAD+ to function. SIRT3 is a mitochondrial sirtuin. It plays an essential role in maintaining mitochondrial health and metabolic control: glucose metabolism, ATP production, fatty acid oxidation, ketone production during fasting, amino acid cycling, and nutrient sensing.
Can you get NMN from food?
You’ll find a small amount of NMN in edamame, broccoli, cucumber, cabbage, avocado, and some fruit. Our cells also synthesize NMN in two ways: from nicotinamide (NAM, the water-soluble form of vitamin B3), or from NR, both of which are also found in food. Scientists think it’s possible that we get a sufficient amount of NMN in our diet to support the NAD+ biosynthesis required for normal functioning, but not to replace the NAD+ lost with age.
Are there side effects of NMN supplementation?
No adverse events were reported in the clinical trials mentioned above and no study of increasing NAD+ levels in humans has reported serious side effects of any kind. That said, like any intervention, it will be necessary to track the long-term effects of upregulating NAD+ to better understand the benefits and continue to ensure that there are no side effects. It’s important to always speak with your doctor or a healthcare provider before changing or starting a new dietary regimen, including supplements.
The future of NMN supplementation
The science of NMN supplementation is evolving, as new studies explore different dosages, delivery methods, longer durations, and target different health outcomes. In the coming years, we expect to have a more complete picture of the possible health benefits of restoring youthful levels of NAD+ with NMN. Several other clinical trials are underway, studying the pharmacodynamics and tolerance of NMN at higher doses, NMN and cardiometabolic function, the effect of NMN on muscle recovery and physical activity, and more.
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