Which Form of NMN is Best? Comparing Liposomal, Powder, Sublingual, and Capsule NMN
In the burgeoning field of longevity research, scientists and anti-aging fanatics alike are increasingly interested in compounds that boost NAD+ levels. Declining levels of NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) play a significant role in how quickly — or slowly — our cells, organs, and bodies age. As a coenzyme, NAD+ helps other enzymes and proteins to function correctly and is needed by virtually every one of our cells.
However, by age 60, our NAD+ levels drop by roughly half of what they were in our youth. This reduction in NAD+ levels increases the risk of accelerated aging and dysfunction in organs and cells. Fortunately, NAD+ levels can be maintained or elevated by supplementing with a direct precursor to NAD+, like the compound nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). But many people are rightfully confused about which form of NMN is best — liposomal, powder, sublingual, or capsules? Let’s dive into the research and find out.
Which Form of NMN is Best?
Oral consumption of NMN in a typical capsule form is thought to be less effective than sublingual powder, lozenges, or acid-resistant capsules. This is because stomach acid can destroy or degrade NMN before it reaches where it needs to go — the bloodstream, where it can reach its target cells and tissues.
Recent research has also looked into liposomal technology for delivering various compounds, like sulforaphane, vitamin C, and glutathione. But are liposomes needed for supplemental NMN to fully benefit human health? The short (and probably frustrating) answer is — we just don’t know yet.
First things first — what are liposomes? Essentially, liposomes are nano-sized bubbles with a unique molecular structure that acts as a delivery vehicle to facilitate the transport of drugs and other compounds into the body.
Liposomes consist of a double layer of phospholipids surrounding a liquid center. Phospholipids are fat-based compounds that make up our cell membranes, consisting of both a water-loving (hydrophilic) “head” and a water-hating (hydrophobic) “tail.” Liposomes have a water-based center, so the second layer of phospholipid heads lines up to face the inside of the bubble. The double-layered bubble safely protects the compound inside, allowing it to travel through the harsh digestive tract and bloodstream until it meets our cells. From there, the liposome merges with our cell membranes and releases the inner nutrient contents into the cell.
So, due to the increasing amounts of research showing that liposomes enhance the delivery and absorption of other compounds and nutrients, could the same go for NMN? Some researchers, like Christopher Shade, Ph.D. (the president of Quicksilver Scientific), think so.
He states, “Recently, it has been found that nicotinamide mononucleotide is traded cell-to-cell in these small vesicles that look like liposomes and are in a certain size range, and so we created our liposomes to be mimics of the ways that your cell trades nicotinamide mononucleotide. [S]o the liposome doesn’t just help the initial absorption; some of the liposomes will break down as they’re absorbed, and as a result, the NMN gets into the system, but some will be intact as these little nano-liposomes of NMN, and the body knows how to work with those little packages — even better than the NMN released directly into the blood.”
However, there is no research (yet) to back this up. While it is likely that liposomal NMN would have a greater absorptive capacity than capsules, the effects may be similar to that of sublingual or gastric acid-resistant capsules. Plus, as we know that NMN degrades relatively quickly in water and becomes unstable, liposomal NMN in liquid or gel form would be ineffective — the liposomes would need to be in capsulated form.
So, what’s the answer? As of now, liposomal NMN may be beneficial for absorption, but we don’t have clinical research to back this up. And, sublingual NMN or even acid-resistant capsules may be just as effective in boosting bioavailability and absorption. But let’s take a look at the other available forms of supplemental NMN.
Absorption of NMN Powder
You can take NMN powder by mixing it into water or another liquid, allowing you to self-administer whichever dose of NMN you prefer. Powdered NMN also allows you to add the compound to food. (Prominent longevity researcher Dr. David Sinclair famously adds his NMN dose directly into his yogurt in the morning.)
Alternatively, a recommended direction is to allow the powder to dissolve directly under the tongue for rapid absorption into the mouth's mucus membranes and blood vessels. This bypasses digestion in the stomach so NMN can be quickly delivered into the bloodstream.
Absorption of Sublingual NMN
NMN can be taken sublingually via either powder or lozenges, which dissolve within minutes under the tongue. Plus, ProHealth Longevity NMN lozenges contain erythritol, a sugar alcohol that is thought to act as a catalyst to improve NMN absorption into the bloodstream.
Absorption of NMN Capsules
Capsules are your typical supplement form; this method also allows for a slower release of NMN into the bloodstream. However, ProHealth Longevity uses a patented delayed-release capsule to bypass the harsh and acidic stomach environment and deliver NMN directly to the small intestine for greater bioavailability.
Releasing NMN directly into the small intestine may be similarly ideal to sublingual modalities because of the recent discovery of the NMN-specific transporter Slc12a8, which is found in the small intestine.
Key Takeaway — Which Form of NMN is Best?
The jury is still out on whether or not liposomal NMN is the most effective strategy for boosting NAD+ levels. As of now, we don’t have enough — or any — evidence-based research comparing liposomal NMN versus other delivery systems.
We know that sublingual NMN can be absorbed directly into the blood vessels in the mouth and under the tongue, increasing its bioavailability by avoiding the harsh acidity in the stomach. For this reason, delayed-release gastric-release capsules may also be a beneficial choice.
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Sinha R, Sinha I, Calcagnotto A, et al. Oral supplementation with liposomal glutathione elevates body stores of glutathione and markers of immune function. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018;72(1):105-111. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2017.132