The idea that simply taking vitamins to prevent and beat diseases isn’t a new one. People often reach for a Vitamin C supplement when they get a cold. The new rise in more destructive viruses like COVID-19 means that Vitamin C needs a new superhero wingman to help fight infection.
What if a group of B Vitamins that boost the most abundant molecule in the body (NAD) play a vital role in fighting infections and offer insight into the 4 main ways COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the body. We take a closer look at some of the startling research released in the last few weeks.
What is NAD+
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is well known as a vital molecule to help release energy in your cells from the food you eat. We also know that it has many health benefits including playing a vital role in messaging through your body, helping to elevate mood and fight depression and signalling when it finds damaged DNA in our cells. It is required for over 500 enzymatic reactions and plays key roles in almost everything the cells in your body does. We discuss its many roles in our blog here.
The Three Stages of a Virus Attack on Your Body
When a virus like SARS CoV-2 ( the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) infects your body there are three stages that all involve NAD+. In this article from Andrew Shao we learn about the 3 stages of a virus infection.
Stage 1 – The Virus ‘Hijack’
In the early stage of infection SARS-CoV-2, like other viruses, attempts to “hijack” the host cells’ machinery that makes things. All cells contain special parts (like natualr 3D printing machines) that are used to make all the molcules and structures we need. Viruses take this machine hostage in each cell and force it to just make copies of the virus and then use the cells natuarl packaging and distribution system to send these copies to other cells. In some cases so many copies are made that the cell simply explodes.
In response to this early Hijack the body responds by opening dialogue with the viral hijacker and doing everything to slow down the 3D machinery the virus is using to make copies. These molecules known as PARPS are activated and controlled by NAD+ and work to stop the 3D copier in a way similar to cutting the power or removing the raw materials needed to make the copies.
Stage 2 – Virus Hostage Negotiation
The defensive actions by the cell come at a cost. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has a “counter defense” to the cell’s defensive actions. As the power is turned off and raw materials are altered the virus uses a special tool called PARG to get the power back on and alter the raw materials back to what they need.
A negotiation and demands battle cycles between the PARG and the PARP actions that leave the cell exhausted and low in vital NAD+
Just published research using a coronavirus model, has shown that infection drastically upregulates PARPs, significantly depletes cells’ NAD levels and depresses host cell metabolism
Stage 3 – The Last Resort SWAT Team Rescue
As things get out of hand during the cell hijack and too many hostage cells are killed your body has no option but to opt for one final last ditch effort. By starting huge amounts of inflamation in your body ( mainly the lungs where the virus takes hold) it allows a number of special forces cells and molcules to arrive to take a rough and ready approach and destroy all the virus. These cells include things known as Natural Killer Cells, Macrophages and monocytes. These are like a SWAT team kicking in the doors, with snipers on the rooftops and tear gas and flashbangs being rolled into a hijacked building.
All this activity comes at a cost to NAD+ and the damage caused by this final showdown is literally life or death. As the inflammation response increases it can be that the response does deal with the virus, but destroys the building and all the hostages as well. This ‘Cytokine Storm’ as it is known is the bad outcome that is usually why COVID-19 patients die.
Battling the Cytokine Storm
Cytokines are released naturally by your body when you get an infection. They allow inflammation to occur in the parts of your body that need help and make your tissues more ‘leaky’ so that white blood cells and infection fighting molecules can shortcut to that part of your body quickly. Its like having ambulances and fire trucks stuck in traffic on a highway and someone quickly building an off ramp right next to them for emergency vehicles only so they can get to where they need to be.
Older patients have a tendency to have too much cytokine with some infections and this can lead to what is known as a ‘Cytokine Storm’ which is like someone building off ramps everywhere but everyone can use them again, leading to body gridlock and chaos.
The fine line between off ramps for emergency vehicles only and ‘body gridlock’ may well start with how much NAD+ a person has. We know that NAD+ declines with age and covered this in a more detailed blog here. The loss of control from these Cytokine Storms seems to start with NAD+ levels in the body dropping.
Boosting NAD+ Levels to help fight infection
Recent research showed a connection between NAD+ levels ( and Cytokine Levels) and the amount of Vitamin B3 taken. Vitamin B3 acts as a key ingredient to making and recycling NAD+ and the research on humans found less inflammation and a decreased chance of a ‘Cytokine Storm’ as a result. We also discussed other research papers covering this topic in a blog here.
Vitamin B3 Acts like a ‘Lung Body Armor’ for COVID-19 patients.
Jump forward to only a few weeks ago and an article in Nature makes absolute sense. We know that Vitamin B3 (naicin and nicotinamide) are building blocks for that essential NAD+ molecule .Discussing various approaches to both treat the symptoms and create a vaccine Dr Shi states…
vitamin B3 (niacin or nicotinamide) is highly effective in preventing lung tissue damage. It might be a wise approach to supply this food supplement to the COVID-19 patients.Dr Shi – Nature.com March 23rd 2020
COVID-19 and the NAD+ ‘Tug of War’
Dr Shi isnt alone in his thinking. Another recent research article from the Coldspring Harbor Laboratory here also describes the ‘tug of war’ of NAD levels between the immune response and COVID-19.
It is cellular warfare & the battleground is NAD…We now know that coronaviruses initiate a tug-of-war over cellular NADDr Brenner
This Scientist Thinks NAD+ Depletion Addresses all the Questions about COVID-19 infections
Perhaps the most compelling research paper in the last few weeks has come from this research paper which looks at the 4 major critical points that COVID-19 takes over a patients body. As well as the Cytokine Storm weve talked about already. We also know that NAD+ acts as a messenger in the body, is crucial to releasing energy to cells, maintains and helps mend damaged DNA and cell death .
COVID-19 interferes with a messaging pathway called RAS, causes stress to your cells by making it hard for them to release energy, causes your cells to ‘self destruct’ early ( known as apoptosis) and causes the Cytonkine Storm. All of these 4 effects of COVID-19 are caused by NAD+ level being lowered.
What all of these research papers have in common is the public cry to look closer into raising NAD+ levels in COVID-19 patients as a potential way to reduce symptoms and decrease the time patients need to recover.
COVID-19 and NAD+ After Battle Analysis
We aren’t saying the NAD+ ingredients like niacin, Vitamin B3 and others found in some supplements will cure or prevent COVID-19 on their own. What we are discussing is that they may play a role in recovery, reducing severity of symptoms or both. Given that NAD+ levels decrease with age its your own personal jump to consider if NAD+ boosting could even be the difference to life or death in a few cases.
We’ve recently launched a product called Clockwise that boosts NAD levels in your body in 3 ways
- Boosting the ingredients your body needs to make NAD itself
- Boosting NAD levels directly
- Boosting your body to recycle more used up NAD