NR and NMN: A Scientific Adventure of NAD+ Precursors

Written by: Betr Labs


Time to read 3 min

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is like the wise older guru of NAD+ precursors. However, its relative, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), found in our Agemate supplement, is gaining attention as a promising newcomer (R, R).

What is NR and NMN?

Much like NR, NMN is a precursor to NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide), undergoing a chemical transformation to become this vital coenzyme. NAD+ plays a critical role as a coenzyme present in every cell of the body. Unfortunately, as the candles on your birthday cake multiply, your NAD+ levels tend to drop, emphasising the importance of substances like NMN and NR as crucial components (R).

Structurally, NMN and NR bear striking similarities, differing primarily in NMN wearing a snazzy phosphate group that makes it look a bit larger than NR (as depicted in the figure below). Historically, scientists believed that due to its size, NMN had to convert into NR before it could gain entry into cells. However, recent research conducted in mice has unveiled the existence of a transporter called Slc12a8 in specific tissues. This transporter aids in the direct entry of NMN into cells, bypassing the need for prior transformation into NR. Once inside, it transforms into NAD+. Some tissues prefer NMN over NR and are not afraid to show it! (R, R).

When NMN enters your cell, it has one foot in the NAD+ door, while NR has to take an extra step or two to get there. NR must play catch-up and transform into NMN before it can finally become NAD+. But NMN, on the other hand, needs just one little conversion step to become NAD+. It's like NMN is the VIP guest at the NAD+ party! (R).

NR and NMN

NR vs NMN Molecule

So which molecule reigns supreme? Currently, the result is inconclusive. That’s because they've never gone head-to-head in humans, so no comparison can be made. However, it's worth noting that both compounds have demonstrated the ability to increase NAD+ levels in humans and are generally considered safe for consumption (R).

Numerous human clinical trials have been conducted or are ongoing, examining the effects of NR and NMN on various aspects of human physiology and performance. For instance, NMN is flexing its muscles by supporting healthy insulin sensitivity in our muscles and boosting our aerobic capacity (R). On the other hand, NR supplementation has shown promise in increasing NAD+ levels in the brain and reducing levels of inflammatory cytokines in the central nervous system (R. R). These findings are based on different dosages and specific participant groups, necessitating further validation in larger, more diverse trials.

It's important to note that while these initial findings hint at a treasure trove of health benefits from NAD+ precursors, more research is required to ascertain whether the benefits of NAD+ precursor supplementation vary across different tissues and contexts.

Why Do You Need NR and NMN?

NR and NMN are fantastic because they're like the sidekicks of NAD+. And NAD+ is the unsung hero of your cellular world – it's the “most valuable player” when it comes to metabolism (turning food into energy), keeping your DNA in perfect shape, activating sirtuins (those are like cellular guardians), and a ton of other essential metabolic tasks (R).

You might think you're getting plenty of NAD+ from your diet by eating foods with NAD+ precursors. And you're not wrong – NR and NMN do pop up in tiny amounts in various foods. But you'd have to be a bottomless pit to eat enough of anything to give your NAD+ levels a real boost. So, that's where these supplements come in handy. They're like the turbocharger for your NAD+ engine, countering the age-related decline (R).

And guess what? Studies in humans and animals have shown some awe-inspiring health benefits from popping NR and NMN into the mix. It's like a secret weapon in the battle against the sands of time!

Now, here’s something interesting! NAD+ levels and the art of graceful aging go hand in hand. In a fascinating study published in the prestigious journal Nature Aging, Janssens and their team delved into the metabolic secrets hidden in the muscle tissue of both young and older adults. What they found was eye-opening! NAD+ became one of the most depleted metabolites in older adults, which echoes what earlier lab experiments had suggested.

But here's where it gets even more remarkable: The older adults experiencing physical challenges had an even steeper decline in NAD+ levels. On the flip side, older adults who were keeping active and hitting the gym were hanging on to NAD+ levels more in line with those of young adults. This confirms two things: NAD+ levels are closely related to your age, and increasing those NAD+ levels is the secret sauce to perfecting the aging process.

The NR and NMN Conclusion

So, which one wears the crown of supreme precursor? Well, that question is still unfolding, like an epic saga in science. NR and NMN have unique roles in this NAD+ adventure, but the final chapter is yet to be written and we plan on uncovering more secrets of NR and NMN. Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment in the world of NAD+