Why the anti-aging market is only superficial

We live in an aging world. The number of people aged over 65 is approaching one billion. Not everyone is thrilled about that, of course – so we have a large and growing market for anti-aging products (expected to grow from $60.42 billion in 2021 to $120 billion by 2030). Are they safe?

A recent article titled “Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN) as an Anti-Aging Health Product – Promise and Safety Issues”, published by a group of researchers from China and New Zealand, raised several concerns.

We age because of a process called “mitochondrial breakdown”. Mitochondria are part of our cells and are responsible for energy production, so they are the “powerhouses” of our body.

Over time, the mitochondria are unable to produce enough energy because there is a drop in levels of a biochemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+); this happens because NAD+ is consumed by enzymes such as NADase and sirtuins. NAD+ depletion is also associated with oxidative stress, DNA damage, and cognitive impairment.

So the trick in anti-aging is to keep NAD+ levels stable. Now, NAD+ is derived from another chemical called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), which is a bioactive nucleotide formed when a nucleoside comprising nicotinamide and ribose reacts with a phosphate group.

Profit over safety

NMN can be produced industrially as a dietary supplement that provides several benefits in addition to anti-aging – it helps against obesity and related complications, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral and cardiac ischemia and type 2 diabetes, note the authors of the article.

Today, NMN products are marketed as anti-aging and longevity supplements in the form of capsules containing more than 500 mg. The safety of these doses cannot be assessed because there have been no clinical or toxicological studies.

“Excessive consumer demand and high manufacturer profit margins are the primary driver for the release of anti-aging health products without adequate safety testing,” the document states. There is no regulatory authority for NMN products as they are often sold as a food product rather than a heavily regulated therapeutic drug.

Published on

July 24, 2022

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