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What Foods Contain NMN?

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is an extremely important chemical in our energy metabolism, such as when we oxidize fatty acids to create energy. On the other hand, scientists discovered nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) in 1963 as a precursor of NAD+ and have been shown to increase its levels. NMN occurs naturally in numerous plant and animal food sources such as broccoli or shrimp.

Key takeaways:

What is NMN?

NMN is a precursor to NAD+ and has been shown to participate in more than half of all physiological processes in helping activate countless enzymes related to different disease processes, DNA repair, or age-associated deterioration. The body synthesizes NMN from Vitamin B3; however, this process is comparatively slow, so it produces a bottleneck for NAD+ metabolism. Thus, it also makes logical sense that NMN supplementation would benefit and increase NAD+ levels.

NMN vs. NAD+: what's the difference?

Simply put, there would be no life without NAD+. NAD+ is found in all living cells and is mainly tasked with transporting electrons in the process of energy generation. Because NAD+ is so important, not only is it synthesized directly from tryptophan or aspartic acid, but it is also recycled. NMN comes into play during this recycling and plays a role in the most crucial step of this salvage pathway. Thus, NMN helps prevent NAD+ levels from declining and ensures the proper functioning of this crucial salvage pathway.

NMN benefits

There has been incredible interest in NMN, as NAD+ is necessary for all life. NAD+ levels decline with age, and enhancing NAD+ in worms and flies has been shown to extend life. Additionally, NMN supplementation has been shown to have exceptional therapeutic effects on various metabolic processes. From an insulin and diabetes standpoint, NMN has been shown to ameliorate impairments in insulin secretion and improve insulin action. Furthermore, NMN has been shown to protect the heart from ischemia/reperfusion, such as may happen during a heart attack. NMN has also been shown to improve mitochondrial and cognitive function in Alzheimer’s disease models in mice, improve hearing loss, maintain muscle stem cell function, and prevent DNA damage and hepatocellular carcinoma formation.

Where can you find NMN?

NMN is naturally occurring and found in many foods, such as healthy vegetables, nutrient-dense fruits, and some animal-based foods. Furthermore, due to increased interest in and associated scientific studies of NMN, there are now countless supplements containing NMN.

However, as not all supplements are properly tested nor require FDA or a similar regulatory authority’s approval, the onus is on the consumer to ensure that the supplement is not adulterated. The FDA publishes a list of adulterated supplements, and it includes some NMN supplements.

The company Hello100, for instance, provides NMN supplements in their bioavailable form, tested and approved by Independent Labs

Foods rich in NMN

NMN is found mainly in vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cucumbers and fruit such as avocado and tomato:

FoodNMN Per 100g
Tomato (medium-average sized)0.28 mg
Edamame0.5–1.5 mg
Broccoli0.25–1.12 mg
Cucumbers 0.6 mg
Shrimp 0.22 mg
Ran beef 0.06–0.42 mg

Does NMN have side effects?

NMN is well tolerated and without noticeable toxicity or serious side effects in countless rodent studies. A single dose of 100-500 mg of NMN was not found to have any side effects in healthy adults, contrary to other metabolites in the NAD+ metabolism, such as NA and nicotinamide (NAM), which may cause liver damage and painful flushing.

Can NMN cause cancer?

There has been concern about whether NMN causes or promotes cancer by enhancing NAD+ in cancerous cells and possibly conferring some immunity from some types of chemotherapy. However, several studies demonstrated that NMN does not prevent the formation of lung cancer, retrain tumor growth, or promote tumor growth in mice models. So, at least, NMN has no negative cancerous effects and, at best, may have some protective effects.

How can you increase NAD+ levels naturally?

One of the best ways to increase NAD+ levels naturally is regular aerobic exercise. Exercise training increases nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT), the bottleneck enzyme in the salvage pathway for NAD+, where NMN comes into play. Interestingly, in the same context, a mouse obesity model study demonstrated that nine weeks of exercise and 18-days of NMN injections had similar benefits on metabolic dysfunction and hepatic fat metabolism. Furthermore, caloric restriction has also been shown to improve lifespan and increase NAD+ levels, particularly in the context of a healthy diet rich in the forms of vitamin B3 or tryptophan. Finally, ensuring sufficient sleep in an appropriate circadian rhythm also has been shown to ensure high NAD+ levels.

Best way to take NMN: Supplements or diet

NMN doses of up to 500 mg have been utilized in various studies on humans. However, there seem to be different optimal doses based on the intended outcome elucidated by different studies. As with most other metabolic processes, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet with hydrating fruits, delicious and nutrient-dense vegetables, and protein from animal sources is the best way to ensure you’re getting sufficient amounts of NMN. Increasing your daily intake of NMN supplements can also be appropriate, granted you trust the supplement source, and it has demonstrated its applicable purity and potency.

Please be aware that from the fall of 2022 NMN is under an investigation as a potential new drug by the FDA. That puts the legality of the product as a dietary supplement in question. It’s a complicated situation that’s not yet solved. However, it is important to note that since we are not a manufacturer or retailer, we do not take any responsibility for the availability of the product as a dietary supplement after having lost its dietary ingredient status.

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Sharon Olson
prefix 1 year ago
This should not be a pharmaceutical supplement since physicians know nothing about nutrition and detoxification! I am a physician of 50 years doing nutrition with my patients but I can guarantee you 99% of physicians have zero intelligence regarding healing the body! They sure do wanna drug the body with toxic chemicals though. Just as an example I recently saw a patient who was severely alcoholic and it did cause liver damage but out of the seven or eight consulting physicians, no one told him he must do Thiamine! Am I the only doctor that was taught that all alcoholics have thiamine deficiency? I don’t believe it! I think doctors don’t want to correct patients problems because the insurance CEO demands they drug people for profit. That is the reason I quit taking all insurance.
Why in the world do patients keep going to their physician for help? Would they continue to take their car to a mechanic who admitted the mechanic never studied how to make the car well but they can try lots of expensive experiments? That’s sheer insanity!
prefix 1 year ago
Hey Sharon, thanks for bringing up this parallel consideration of where to get nutrition advice. Down here visiting Costa Rica we gringos have a saying, which is when asking Ticos be sure to "triangulate". This is because they are going to give you directions if you ask, even if they are clueless, because helping is their thing, so be sure that two out of three agree. I get info online, and online it's easy to find sources that share the same erroneous info, just like doctors do, with good intent. If several sources agree, then I did deeper to find and test that their logic goes to sound science. A nutrition doctor in the USA specializing in longevity looked at the info form I filled out when we first met, and he told me my osteoporosis was caused by not eating meat. I straightened him out on his error and he became a useful source for blood panels to check nutrients as I explored *useful* dietary changes. Just because someone tells you they know nutrition and longevity...don mean a ting.