In the Anti-aging Debate, Do You Favour NMN, NR, or a Bit of Both?
None of us can stop getting old, but it is true, to a certain extent, that age is purely a number, and you are only as old as you feel. Today, we are fortunate that when it comes to the aging process, we don’t have to simply accept the results as previous generations have been forced to do. No longer do we have to feel jealous of those who never seem to age and who leave us scratching our head, wondering what it is about them that allows them to look as if they are just fifty years old when they have just celebrating reaching pensionable age.
Certainly, genetics has its role to play, as a youthful appearance can be a delightful genetic gift from our parents or grandparents, but it doesn’t have to be purely down to luck how we age as adults.
How to combat the aging process
There used to be a two-pronged attack we could take to combat the visual, and physical effects of aging. First was predominantly lifestyle based, and how the healthier the lifestyle we led, the healthier and younger we would look. Those who smoked and drank heavily, who would spend hours in the sunshine without protecting their skin, and who were happy to ‘burn the midnight oil’, would show clear signs of aging well before those who were more respectful of their health and wellbeing.
The alternative, excluding cosmetic surgery, was to apply anti-aging creams, which are still popular today, but which now contain a multitude of chemical supplements that we didn’t even know existed twenty years ago. However, the religious application of anti-wrinkle creams and skin-rejuvenating creams has tended to be the domain of women who, traditionally, were generally always more conscious of their appearance.
The use of cosmetic enhancements, such as Botox and ‘derma fillers’ are frequent ‘quick fixes’ to combat the signs of aging, but as with all ‘external’ anti-aging treatments, the principal area of focus would be the face, neck and hands, and the results would generally be classed as ‘temporary’ or ‘superficial’.
Not just looking young, but also feeling young
The problem with looking as young as you can through many treatments and procedures is that such youth is only ‘skin deep’, and it all seems to miss the point. We don’t just want to look young; we also want to feel young. We don’t just want to just postpone the visual signs of aging; we want to help our body to function as well later in life as it did when we were younger. In other words, we are looking more at a ‘prevention is better than cure’ approach to aging, which is where supplements come to the fore.
The advantage of taking health supplements
Many of the supplements we take for our health tend to be based on centuries, if not millennia of historical evidence. While many may look upon herbal supplements and homeopathic medicine as ‘alternative’ treatments which have been superseded by modern synthesised chemical-based medicines, many of the more traditional ‘remedies and cures’ were employed through their reputation, not because we understood, physiologically, how they worked. They just did! And that’s the point regarding supplements, whether synthesised or naturally occurring, they do work.
Today, science has allowed us to have a greater-than-ever understanding of how the body functions, and what the body needs to remain healthy. It is with this increased knowledge bank that we have been able to understand the full importance of the roles of nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR). However, in this article we don’t want to delve too deep into the scientific aspect of how these two chemicals work, but more simply explain what, exactly, it is that they do and their role in the anti-aging process.
How the body ages
In our youth, our body has a high level of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) which plays a critical role in the health of the body’s cells. NAD+ is responsible for helping enzymes that protect our DNA and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARPs) which repair any damaged DNA. Part of the physical signs of aging, such as dry, wrinkled skin and skin with blemishes, is the visual representation of damaged DNA.
The science behind combatting the aging process
So, to combat the aging process, it makes sense to have your body physiologically optimised to ensure that those enzymes and PARPs which protect and repair our DNA are in plentiful supply. To do so, why don’t we just take these enzymes and PARPs as supplements to our standard diet? The easiest way to answer that is to provide an analogy between enzymes and PARPs, and tomato plants.
We grow tomato plants in order to produce tomatoes. We can’t just conjure up tomatoes out of thin air, but instead we have a plant that requires water, light and nutrients to grow, after which it will produce tomatoes. In a similar manner, PARPs require what are called precursors, such as NR and NMN, that can be converted into NAD+ to then repair DNA. The older we get, the less our body has a naturally sufficient level of NAD+, which is why taking NR and NMN now appears to have potentially positive benefits in the anti-aging process.
Encouraging results from trials using NR and NMN
Much of the research is in its infancy, but there are a sufficient number of clinical trials that lead scientists to believe that taking NR and NMN as a health supplement will help to combat the effects of the aging process, and not just in relation to physical appearance. The following is a summary of the potentially identified benefits of taking supplements like NR and NMN, but it should be made clear that these are not categoric claims as to their efficacy, simply the reporting of encouraging results:
- Raising levels of NAD+ with the administration of NR and NMN has shown to increase the lifespan of certain organisms, including yeast, worms, and mice, and it also has a positive impact on the metabolic function in animals.
- NR might improve blood pressure and aortic stiffness and has displayed anti-inflammatory properties.
- A combination of NR + pterostilbene may potentially be a useful measure in ALS treatment.
- NMN has been identified as a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
- Based on early results, clinical trials are now being carried out to gauge the effectiveness of NR and NMN-based drugs to combat fatty liver disease.
- NR and NMN have been shown to increase suppleness in skin.
So, between NR and NMN, which is best to take as an anti-aging supplement?
More is known about NR and, consequently, it is more readily available with what appear to be good results. Its popularity as an anti-aging supplement would tend to support its potential efficacy. NMN is the ‘new kid on the block’ and is receiving very positive reviews as a health and wellness supplement.
One of the main reasons why NMN is catching people’s attention is that where its chemical composition is concerned, it is nearer to NAD+ and therefore, presumably, more easily converted by the body into NAD+ than NR. NR has to combine with a phosphate to convert it into NMN, before it can then become an effective precursor to NAD+. So, in answer to the question ‘Which is best?’, the answer isn’t yet known, but both, on the face of it, appear to be beneficial supplements in the anti-aging process.
The alternative to taking either NR or NMN is cycling between the two of them
Cycling supplements can be a smart move. Let’s look at dieting to help you understand the situation better. If we reduce our calorie intake in an attempt to lose weight, we will see immediately successful results. However, after a while, the body’s metabolism gets accustomed to a lower fuel intake and adapts by slowing down, at which point weight loss becomes dramatically curtailed.
With NR and NMN, the body produces a certain amount, depending on your age. However, there is the risk that if you introduce a higher-than-natural-level of these two precursors, the body’s metabolism may readjust and produce less of its own after a while, thus negating the benefits of a supplement. To counteract this problem, it is worth considering ‘cycling’ the two, by taking either NR for, say, a two-week period, then switching to NMN for a two-week period, then switching back to NR again, and so on… Another approach may be to alternate every day. Further studies are needed in this area.
It is also worth noting that not everyone’s metabolism is the same, and as is the case with many health supplements, there may be a natural disposition for one to work better for certain individuals than others. For this reason, if you are taking NR or NMN for the first time, we recommend you keep a diary and note down any changes you notice about how you feel, or look, over the time-period you are taking the supplement. If you get satisfactory results from the first one you trial, you may decide to continue with it, but if you take the second of the two supplements, then you will have added assurance and peace of mind that taking one or cycling both is working best for you.
We also found this excellent FoundMyFitness short, five-minute video created by David Sinclair which we feel you will find good to watch.
Please note that the information contained in this article is for the purposes of providing information on NR and MNM. However, such information should never take the place of advice from a qualified dietician or medical practitioner, and before taking any new dietary supplements, here at Longevitybox we feel it is always best to seek the advice of your doctor.