Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is a chemical needed for most crucial aspects of our cell functioning, such as DNA repair and energy creation. On the other hand, nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a precursor for NAD and has been demonstrated in vivo to increase levels of NAD.
Decreased NAD levels have been implicated in various diseases and contexts, including aging, diabetes, and obesity, as well as neuroprotection and Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, NMN has been shown to alleviate some of these age-related changes in vivo. As such, there are numerous ongoing clinical trials to learn about NMN's beneficial effects and to establish an optimal dosage.
Erectile dysfunction causes
Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects up to 30 million men in the US, with an ever-increasing prevalence and incidence. Although ED has various causes, such as medications, SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), and neurological issues, the most common reason stems from blood vessel issues. For example, atherosclerosis, especially in the context of diabetes, is a common cause.
NMN and erectile dysfunction
NMN and NAD are thought to be beneficial concerning vascular dysfunction and, as such, may be beneficial for ED as well. However, studies haven't found a correlation. Proper erectile function depends on nitric oxide (NO). This vasodilatory molecule ensures that blood vessels dilate and the penile tissue becomes erect. Of note, popular ED medications such as Viagra (sildenafil) enhance this NO-created vasodilation by delaying the breakdown of NO and associated molecules.
Furthermore, from a NAD perspective, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase, an enzyme found in blood vessels and white blood cells that contains NAD, is tied to atherosclerosis and ED. In this context, several studies in mice demonstrated that NMN supplementation assisted with regaining NO-mediated dilatation as well as reduced oxidative stress by regulating NADPH-oxidase function. Additionally, in different studies, NMN supplementation has also been shown to reverse age-related changes in vascular function. This indicates that NMN could be a favorable therapeutic against diseases hallmarked by vascular dysfunction, such as ED.
All in all, the current data indicate that NMN and NAD supplementation may be beneficial in the context of ED. However, no studies have been done to demonstrate this. Although the benefits of NMN and problems associated with particularly age-related NAD decline are evident, the optimal dosing regarding the supplementation is unknown. From a safety perspective, higher levels of NMN were shown to be toxic for neurons, and lower dosages may be safer and more effective. It is also known that NAD metabolism is sped up in cancer cells, and thus NMN supplementation may enhance tumor growth.
How to increase NAD+ levels naturally?
Increasing the daily intake of NMN supplements may be appropriate to boost NAD levels. That's if they are from a trusted source and can demonstrate the applicable purity and potency. However, there are also natural ways to increase NAD levels:
- Eat fruits and vegetables. NMN is found in avocados, tomatoes, broccoli, and cucumbers.
- Exercise. Studies show that regular aerobic/endurance exercise increases an enzyme that is the bottleneck for NAD salvage in the body, where NMN also exerts its effect.
- Improve sleep. Getting sufficient sleep has also been shown to increase NAD levels.