Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) has been getting a lot of buzz in recent years as researchers and aging and longevity experts like Harvard University professor David Sinclair have dug into its potential to help you live longer.
So the FDA’s recent decision ban NMN as a supplement comes as something of a buzzkill.
The FDA recently published letters to NMN suppliers saying that NMN can no longer be sold in the U.S. as a supplement.
The reason: NMN, a NAD+ precursor, “has been authorized for investigation as a new drug.”
NMN suppliers and people who take NMN as a supplement are understandably upset, though Huberman Lab neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, Ph.D. shared on Twitter that so far, there hasn’t been a call to remove NMN supplements from sale.
There was a FDA ruling that NMN is now a drug. There has not (yet) been a call to remove it from supplement sales. There has been a flood of orders. No one knows if/when sales will be halted. My suggestion: learn about NMN vs NR & stand by for more.— Andrew D. Huberman, Ph.D. (@hubermanlab) November 15, 2022
While it’s anyone’s guess what this means for companies that sell NMN supplements—and people who swallow them—it makes sense that NMN is being looked into as a drug, given the potential benefits researchers have sussed out so far.
What is NMN?
NMN is a naturally-occurring molecule and a precursor to NAD+, a coenzyme that’s central to various cell functions including metabolism. As you age, your NMN levels decline, which means your body makes less NAD+, which may contribute to age-related health conditions like cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
A growing body of evidence suggests NMN may be a key component in increasing NAD+ levels in humans.
NAD+, produced from NMN, is critical to the functioning of mitochondria—the powerhouses of your cells that convert nutrients from food into a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a form of energy that the cell can use—and helps with DNA repair (1).
As such, NMN supplements are being studied to accumulate evidence that they may slow the aging process, delay the progression of age-related diseases, and help you look and feel younger for longer (2).
In addition to potential increases in NAD+ production, research has hinted at some possible direct benefits of NMN supplementation. So far, they’ve uncovered that NMN may:
Some studies have found that NMN supplements increased longevity in mice, so, after more research, there may be the potential for the effects of it on humans as well (3).
Subdue age-related weight gain
In some mice studies, regular intake of NMN supplements resulted in a decreased rate of weight gain, something that many people experience as they age (2). The researchers suggest that this may be due to factors like enhanced metabolism and increased physical activity.
Enhance insulin levels
A study found that when participants—overweight or obese postmenopausal women with prediabetes—took 250 mg of NMN per day for 10 weeks, they displayed greater insulin sensitivity (4).
Improve brain health
It’s thought that NMN supplements can better brain health by improving blood flow to the brain in addition to neurovascular coupling (5). This results in enhanced cognition.
Improve heart health
A study showed increased cardiac function in a group of mice that consumed NMN over a period of time (6). This is promising for the positive effects it could have on humans.