The Great NMN Supplement War
The need for greater health and longer life is so large, people are willing to spend massive amounts of money.
After all, what good is your money to you when you’re dead?
Naturally, that attracts people who want some of that money to go into their own pockets.
When this greed is directed in a positive direction, we all benefit. Scientists discover new truths about how our bodies work – and why they sometimes don’t, and why we go downhill as we age, and how we might slow that down or even reverse it.
Manufacturers make, distribute and market products that help us.
Overall, the fields of health and anti-aging are far more advanced in both scientific knowledge and product availability than ever before.
But these fields – and the large sums of money involved – also attract outright scammers – and some . . . “questionable” events.
That’s where we stand today with one David Sinclair, a medical researcher and full Professor at Harvard University.
He’s been active in the field for decades. In fact, it was Sinclair who did the experiments that made resveratrol the highly popular anti-aging supplement it still is today.
But Sinclair himself was not widely known until a few years ago. He published his book Lifespan: Why We Age�and Why We Don’t Have To, in 2019, and began making the podcast rounds to promote it. For a limited number of episodes, also has his own podcast.
Much of aging comes from a decline in sirtuin function. The sirtuins are a family of seven signaling proteins that control a lot of metabolic functions in our body.
They control or influence such vital activities as DNA repair, energy regulation, resistance to stress, inflammation and programmed cell death.
If your sirtuins go downhill, they drag your health – and lifespan – down with them.
Therefore, the key to living longer is to activate the sirtuins.
Sinclair’s early message was that resveratrol did that for SIRT1 – though that’s still up for debate.
However, what’s not debatable is that all the sirtuins depend on nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, more commonly known as NAD+.
Our NAD+ does go downhill as we age. So, it’s entirely plausible that raising NAD+ would lengthen our healthspan and, maybe, lifespan.
NAD+ is Vital
It supports our body’s turning glucose from food into energy. It also supports cellular maintenance.
When NAD+ is high, so is energy production and cellular repair. When it’s low, so too is energy production and cellular repair.
Can’t we take NAD+ as a supplement?
That’s not possible. It’s a highly unstable molecule. And it’s quite large. Even if you could consume it, your digestion would just break it down.
But our bodies don’t make NAD+ from scratch. It has what are called precursors.
These include nicotinamide, nicotinic riboside (NR), nicotinic acid and, last but not least – nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN).
Although this sounds complicated, and is, when you get into the weeds, these are basically all variations of Vitamin 3.
David Sinclair has been contending that taking more NAD+ precursors leads to more NAD+ available to your sirtuins, which results in a slowing down or even reversal of the aging process.
And, he says, based on his experiments, the most effective precursor is NMN.
Part of the “war” is this is not supported by all the research done, or by all experts.
The critical role of sirtuins and NAD+ to our bodies and good continuing health are not at issue.
The effectiveness of NMN in increasing NAD+ and improving health is disputed, however.
But many people taking NMN say it’s helped them, and it’s now the most popular of all anti-aging supplements.
Don’t go running to Amazon to buy some, however.
The real war started last year, when Amazon banned sales of NMN supplements.
The Back Story Doesn’t Start with Amazon
Did Amazon ban NMN because it’s not safe?
No. Nobody has ever claimed taking NMN itself harmed them. When Amazon did sell NMN, it also allowed low-grade quality products from Chinese companies that had questionable levels of purity. According to one study that tested all the NMN brands then for sale on Amazon, only three contained the full amounts of NMN they claimed. So Amazon isn’t worried about the quality of its products.
Amazon’s February 16, 2023 ban on NMN came because the FDA released a letter in November 2022 stating it would no longer recognize NMN as a dietary supplement effective November 2023.
FDA regulations don’t allow compounds to be sold as dietary supplements if that compound is being investigated as a potential medicine.
That is: if a pharmaceutical company has obtained permission from the FDA to research turning Vitamin Z into a prescription medicine, the FDA won’t let supplement companies sell Vitamin Z – no matter how useful Vitamin Z is in its simple natural form.
Or how many consumers want to buy Vitamin Z in its normal form as a vitamin.
Currently, NMN is now in that process. You can still buy it directly from manufacturers. Make sure they use GMP certified facilities and have third parties test it for purity.
Supplement manufacturers are negotiating with the FDA to overturn the ban, so whether or not NMN will be available beyond November 2023 is still up in the air.
How Did This Happen?
That’s an interesting question, with an interesting answer.
A pharmaceutical company asked the FDA to ban supplements of “natural” NMN to protect its propriety version of crystalline NMN: MIB-626.
What company? Metro International Biotech.
According to the company’s website: “Metro International Biotech is a privately-owned clinical-stage pharmaceutical company that has established the most comprehensive portfolio of proprietary NAD+ precursors in the world.”
So, clearly, they’re focused on NAD+ precursors.
But, who do they think they are, trying to shut down consumer access to NMN to benefit their own proprietary medicine – which is still undergoing research and may never even be sold?
Why do they think they know more about NAD+ precursors than David Sinclair, the Harvard researcher who kicked off interest in NMN?
The answer is also on their website. We find the names of two “co-founders.” They are not company officers or managers, but they both now sit on the company’s scientific advisory board:
One is: Rajendra Apte, M.D., Ph.D.
The other . . . drumroll, please . . .
Interesting, eh what?
War has Been Declared
The pro-NMN faction of the anti-aging community reacted with lots of anger. Many people justifiably feel betrayed.
Everybody has read Sinclair’s book and watched him on podcast after podcast pushing NMN as the scientifically certified Fountain of Youth.
It now seems he has spent years building up demand for NMN, only to yank the rug out from everybody he’s persuaded.
I’ve proven NMN will keep you young for decades, Sinclair claimed. Now I’m making sure you can’t get it.
If he teased a child with a toy, then broke it in front of the child, we’d see it as raw cruelty.
In a sense, it’s worse than that, because our health and longer lives are at stake – according to Sinclair.
Sinclair reacted by pretending to be mystified by the negative reaction, and distanced himself from his own company, saying he didn’t control it.
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! I am still the great and powerful longevity guru.
Everybody’s sure Sinclair did this for the money, but how’s it help him? MIB-626 is not yet a medicine approved for the treatment of anything. It won’t be for years, if ever. We don’t even know if it’s better than natural NMN or not, or by how much.
If it is ever approved by the FDA, it will be for a specific disease, not general age (which medical science doesn’t recognize as a “disease.”)
Therefore, if Sinclair gets his way, the general public will never again have access to NMN supplements. If MIB-626 gets approved to treat a disease, and you have the disease, you’ll have to pay a highly inflated price.
More likely, he believes preventing people from buying NMN in supplement form will enhance his company’s market value. In 2008, he sold a company manufacturing a proprietary form of resveratrol to SmithGlaxoKline for $720 million. This proprietary form of resveratrol NEVER became a medicine, and SGK shut the company down five years later, writing off its failed investment. But of course Sinclair kept his share of the $720 million.
When doing podcasts, he did hint his laboratory was working on ways to enhance NMN effectiveness, and declined to recommend any particular NMN supplement manufacturer. So I did expect him to eventually sell his own version as a supplement. Nobody realized he was going to take it to the level of a medicine – and then make all NMN supplements illegal.
What You Can Do
1, Simply take care of your health through diet, exercise, and sleep. Nobody, including Sinclair, has scientifically proven NMN lengthens life.
2. Take ordinary Vitamin 3 – suggested amount 50 mg. This too is a NAD+ precursor, and, as an ordinary vitamin, can’t be banned. Vitamin 6 may also help increase NAD+.
3. Take NR. It’s also a NAD+ precursor. Sinclair says it’s not as good as NMN, but he’s taking NMN off the market.
4. A company in the UK sells a supplement using nicotinamide as a precursor, and combines it with ingredients it says address the REAL reasons we run short of NAD+ as we age. (According to them, it’s NOT a shortage of either NMN or NR.)
5. Get plenty of quercetin and apigenin from food and, if necessary, supplements. Those are phytonutrients that may help increase NAD+.