We all want to be able to run faster, run for longer and, feel better when we exercise.
After all, we all know how good exercise is good for our physical and mental wellbeing.
Recent research into NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) suggests that we may have found a new key to unlocking our athletic potential.
To date, most research into NMN has been done on animals but this study measured the effects of NMN on “cardiovascular fitness in healthy amateur runners.” (Liao et al, 2021).
Liao et al, 2021 wanted to investigate “the effects of a combination of exercise training and supplementation with nicotinamide mononucleotide”.
We already know that NMN is a precursor to NAD+, a molecule that is crucial to our health and longevity. Evidence shows that NMN consistently and reliably boosts NAD+, which in turn gives our bodies the benefits of more NAD+.
If you didn’t know these are just some of the vital benefits NAD+ gives us:
- Facilitates DNA repair
- Fights aging
- Protects our cells from stress.
Given these NAD+ benefits a lot of research today looks at how a boost in NAD+ can affect human health and performance.
So Liao et al, 2021, used A six-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, including 48 young and middle-aged runners. These runners were separated randomly into 4 dose-controlled groups.
Group 1 - took 300 mg/day NMN
Group 2 - 600 mg/day NMN
Group 3 - 1200 mg/day NMN
Group 4 – 0 NMN (a placebo group).
The groups trained 5-6 times a week for about 60minutes a session.
The groups were given Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) before and after the 6-week experiment to assess the aerobic capacity of the participants.
Did NMN boost Cardiovascular performance?
Well before we discuss the results it’s important to note that the large doses given to the participants on a long-term regular basis were proven to be safe.
“During the intervention period, all participants had taken the NMN or placebo according to the requirements, and none of the participants reported an adverse event. No obvious abnormalities were shown on the ECG during exercise in the CPET.”
This was important as the doses given to participants in this trial (1200mg/day) were quite large compared to other human studies.
So the experiment showed that NMN was safe but did it show that NMN boosting NAD+ could increase cardiovascular performance in already healthy runners?
The cardiopulmonary performance of the participants was evaluated by CPET. Focusing mainly on VO2 levels, ventilatory parameters, metabolic parameters (respiratory exchange ratio, VT1, and VT2) and, exercise capacity parameters (workload and power).
NMN did increase cardiovascular performance!
Liao et al 2021, found that NMN boosted “oxygen uptake (VO2), percentages of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), power at first ventilatory threshold, and power at second ventilatory threshold.”.
Furthermore, to highlight the correlation between NMN and increased cardiopulmonary endurance “the positive effect was in a dose-dependent manner”.
This means that the more NMN was taken, the greater the positive effect was.
Liao et al 2021, wanted to see if NMN could increase aerobic capacity in humans and found that, yes, “NMN increases the aerobic capacity of humans during exercise training”.
While these results are exciting, we have recently started to see that NMN can increase athletic performance in a wide range of studies.
For instance, Igarashi et al 2021 looked at whether NMN boosting NAD+ in the body of older males would increase muscular performance. They found that it did increase muscular performance and concluded that “chronic oral NMN supplementation can be an efficient NAD+ booster for preventing aging-related muscle dysfunctions in humans”.
So while the findings aren’t surprising they are still quite exciting.
Benefits of NMN on Running Performance:
A lot of the terms they used are not so ubiquitous among the public.
What on earth is VT1 or VO2 Max?
Let’s look at the benefits of increases in these athletic measurements.
VT1 is the first ventilatory threshold where a person’s breathing requires more intensity. In a nutshell, VT1 is the first instance of when you can no longer comfortably talk while exercising. Boosting VT1 basically gives your body a larger threshold to exercise in without getting out of breath.
Imagine going on your 10km run without having to push through that uncomfortable feeling of breathlessness after 10 minutes. If you could delay that to 30 minutes how would you feel? An increased ventilatory threshold gives you this.
VO2 & VO2 Max
This study also found that power and VO2 max were increased at the first ventilatory threshold.
Vo2 is just a measure of the volume (V) of oxygen (O2) you have in your body at any one time. The more intense your exercise, the more O2 your body requires. VO2 Max is when you reach a point in exercise where you can no longer work any harder. Your body has reached the maximum oxygen consumption level and so it has no more ability to “burn fuel” to work any harder.
This is often why VO2 max is considered to be the gold standard for fitness measurement.
A larger VO2 max doesn’t guarantee you will perform better than someone with a smaller VO2 max but it does give you the resources to do so.
In this study Liao et al 2021, found that “the VO2@VT1, %VO2max@VT1, HR@ VT1, power@VT1..were increased significantly from the NMN supplementation compared with baseline.”
So, the participants were not only able to run for longer in comfort, but when they hit their VT1 they also had more power, better VO2 and, a lower heart rate!
NMN & Exercise
The benefits of exercise are well documented and using exercise to increase your health can improve:
- Weight Control
- Risk of heart diseases
- Mental health and mood
This study has shown that your aerobic exercise can be improved and potentially made more enjoyable with the aid of NMN supplementation. It also asks whether athletes should be looking at NMN as a way to boost their ventilation thresholds and VO2 Max.
More research is needed but as of now NMN certainly looks like an exciting way to boost your athletic performance and supplement your exercise regime.
- Liao B, Zhao Y, Wang D, Zhang X, Hao X, Hu M. Nicotinamide mononucleotide supplementation enhances aerobic capacity in amateur runners: a randomized, double-blind study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2021;18(1):54. Published 2021 Jul 8. doi:10.1186/s12970-021-00442-4
- Chronic nicotinamide mononucleotide supplementation elevates blood nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide levels and alters muscle motility in healthy old men