Shelter-in-place orders during the coronavirus pandemic have brought our attention to the need to create healthy and nutritious routines at home. Some are baking, some are growing gardens, and others are taking charge of their nutrition. No matter your preference or skill level, one truth remains the same — we can responsibly use nutritional supplements to help get through this pandemic in a healthy way.
Some key vitamin supplements support immune function and reduce stress, while others help us get better sleep. Enzymes and digestive aids tend to our bodies as we transition into our respective “new normals.”
Many consumers have recognized the need for complete nutrition and have embarked on a search for science-backed dietary supplements. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc often top the list for anyone trying to stay healthy. Melatonin, adaptogens and nootropics have also exploded onto the supplement scene with proprietary formulas that promote desired effects. Health is the priority, and we now have the time to optimize our nutrition.
Among the many options, a cellular health supplement is currently available for purchase. Nicotinamide riboside (NR), is a unique form of vitamin B3 that supports cellular defense and cellular repair. Essentially, NR is a building block — or a “precursor,” as scientists say — to a coenzyme that is present in all of our cells. This coenzyme, called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (or NAD+), is critical for our cellular energy and metabolism. NAD+ levels in the body decrease over time as we age, and they can be negatively impacted by things such as metabolic or physiologic stress, overeating, and viral infections.
Recently, researchers at three U.S. universities studied NAD+ and the effects of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, in infected cells, infected ferrets, and in a deceased patient’s lung tissue. They found that the virus significantly depleted NAD+ levels and the gene expression profile indicated that infected cells sought out NR to replenish NAD+ levels. More research is needed, but the preclinical results pave the way for clinical human studies.
At the consumer level, several companies market NR in different formulations and doses, so it can be confusing to choose the right one. In general, it’s best to consult with your primary care doctor when starting a new supplement regimen. It’s also smart to choose products from brands you know and trust. Also, look for products that have been certified by an independent third party, such as NSF, USP or UL. Companies that operate with high standards around ethics and safety are more likely to provide a quality product.
As we navigate a “new normal” and choose the best health habits this year, it’s important to combine nutritious food, regular exercise and select dietary supplements to create a complete and well-rounded health routine. The powerful combination of all three could be the very thing that helps with stress, sleep and fatigue during this chaotic time. Who knows — it could even be the beginning of a new habit that helps you feel better than before and last for years to come.
By Andrew Shao, PhD