The Anti-Aging Molecule that May Protect Against COVID-19

As researchers scramble to understand COVID-19, a question remains; Why are elderly at such an increased risk of perishing from this disease?  It may seem obvious given that older adults tend to have weaker immune systems, but historically, infectious diseases don’t always pose a higher risk for elderly.  

In fact, the Spanish flu of 1918 targeted younger people, so what is it about COVID-19 that poses a higher risk for our older population and those that are obese, diabetic or hypertensive?  The answers maybe among the studies focused on anti-aging and not infectious disease.

A hot topic in anti-aging medicine over the last decade has been the coenzyme NAD+.  This bountiful coenzyme plays a critical role in energy production, DNA repair, immune function and hormone synthesis.  As we age, concentrations of this essential molecule decline. 

So, is there a connection between NAD+ and severity of COVID-19?  It looks that way.

What is NAD+

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme that is found in all living cells.  This special molecule is part of the biochemical pathways that converts food into energy within the mitochondria. Additionally, NAD+ protects tissues from free radicals, supports innate immune function, boosts DNA repair, increases energy, and extends life span. 

We manufacture NAD+ from vitamin B3 delivered in our diet, but the majority of the NAD+ in the body is generated from the intricate recycling system within our cells.  

How Does Aging Affect NAD+?

As we age, NAD+ concentrations decline.  It’s not fully understood why.  Researchers hypothesize that the NAD+ recycling pathways lose functionality as we age or that we use more NAD+ for repair.  Many scientists believe it is a combination of both. 

To understand the complexity of NAD+ and aging, we have to introduce another important family of molecules, enzymes called sirtuins.  One of our favorite aging experts, David Sinclair PhD, has done extensive research on the relationship between NAD+, aging and sirtuin activity. He is the one who discovered that the red wine molecule resveratrol increased sirtuin activity in a similar way to caloric restriction. 

From a 2018 paper published by Alice Kane and David Sinclair: 

“The sirtuin family… are thought to be responsible, in large part, for the cardiometabolic benefits of lean diets and exercise and when upregulated can delay key aspects of aging. SIRT1, for example, protects against a decline in vascular endothelial function, metabolic syndrome, ischemia-reperfusion injury, obesity, and cardiomyopathy, and SIRT3 is protective against dyslipidemia and ischemia-reperfusion injury. With increasing age, however, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide levels and sirtuin activity steadily decrease, and the decline is further exacerbated by obesity and sedentary lifestyles. Activation of sirtuins or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide repletion induces angiogenesis, insulin sensitivity, and other health benefits in a wide range of age-related cardiovascular and metabolic disease models.” 

Because NAD+ is required for sirtuin activity, as NAD+ declines with aging, sirtuin activity declines as well, accelerating aging and reducing our body’s ability to generate energy, combat inflammation, repair tissue and fight infections. 

If you want a deep-dive on this topic, read Sinclair’s new book, Lifespan, Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To

The Connection Between COVID-19 & NAD+

The body’s initial response to an infectious threat like COVID-19, known as innate immune activation, depends on NAD+.  Viral infections deplete NAD+ because infections trigger a cellular defense cascade that results in increased NAD+ degradation to prevent the virus from taking over the cell. Significantly reduced NAD+ concentration has been shown in COVID-19 and some researchers think this is a major factor in why this virus is so deadly, especially to those with depleted NAD+ storage. 

Considering the populations at highest risk of perishing from COVID-19, this theory makes sense. Not only the elderly, but those in a constant state of inflammation such as people managing hypertension, diabetes and obesity, all live with depleted NAD+ concentration.  Now, more than ever, it’s critical that our bodies have the molecular resources to fight infection.

COVID-19 & NMN Case Study from University of Chicago

A case study was published on April 22, 2020 by Dr. Robert Huizenga MD at University of Chicago describing his response to a 55-year old woman who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 on March 16. Her condition continued to worsen and on day 13 she had obvious pneumonia, cytokine storm and extremely elevated hsCRP, a non-specific inflammatory marker.

Dr. Huizenga treated her with oral NMN, betaine and NaCl (known to reduce IL-6) and continued the zinc treatment she had been given prior. By day 15, her fever was alleviated and symptoms improved significantly. By day 17 she was discharged to go home. By day 23, she was asymptomatic.

Two other elderly patients were treated with the same “cocktail” and both experienced similar recoveries.

How to Increase NAD+

There are a handful of proven ways to increase NAD+.  While niacin-containing foods such as beef, liver, poultry, anchovies, salmon, mushrooms, peas, potatoes and yeast can provide substrate for NAD+.  However, it’s not possible to get enough niacin (Vitamin B3) in the diet to meet the high demand throughout the body.  Instead, NAD+ recycling pathways are the primary source of NAD+.  To increase NAD+, we need to use less or boost production. Here are effective ways to increase NAD+:


Fasting, or caloric restriction has been shown to boost sirtuins and NAD+, leading to increased longevity and anti-aging effects.  One of our favorite tools for fasting is Prolon FMD which has been shown to boost stem cell production and turn off aging and cancer pathways. 


Aerobic and resistance exercise has been shown to reverse aging by increasing NAD+ production. 

Reverse Inflammatory Conditions such as T2 diabetes and hypertension

One effective way to boost NAD+ is to reduce the demand.  Inflammatory conditions can often be reversed with tailored nutrition and lifestyle therapies.  To learn more about reversing chronic disease, schedule a free 15-minute consult with out functional nutritionist, Megan Barnett, MS.

Take NAD+ enhancing supplements

NAD+ boosters include nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) and nicotinamide riboside (NR).  While both seem have some efficacy for boosting NAD+, only NR has been shown to increase mitochondrial levels of NAD+ in humans. NR has been shown to be safe up to 2000mg/day for 12 weeks. NMN has currently only been shown to increase levels in animal studies and interest in this molecule is gaining ground. Researcher David Sinclair, the foremost expert on NAD, takes 1000mg of NMN daily. 

We are impressed with the NR supplement Tru Niagen which has been shown to increase NAD+ by 40-50% after 8 weeks of supplementation with 300mg/day. Over 5 completed human studies have shown the safety and efficacy of this powerful supplement. Two other supplements containing NR and NMN can be found here on our website. One of these, NAD gold, by quicksilver labs, uses NMN in a sublingual enhanced delivery form which may improve systemic absorption.  An as yet unpublished case report shows rapid improvement of the cytokine storm in a Covid hospitalized patient who was taking that product.

NAD+ injections and infusions

Our clinic and many others around the country have been offering NAD infusions with interesting results. Most patients report increases in energy, mental clarity and a reduction in the desire to drink alcohol or use drugs. This is consistent with what is observed at other clinics. NAD IV is used extensively in the fields of anti-aging as well as addiction medicine. A recent study in Sept, 2019 shows a dramatic increase in serum and urinary levels of NAD during and after infusion.

High Quality NAD+ Supplements & Infusions

$5 flat-rate shipping on all NAD+ supplements purchased by 5/15.

Buy TruNiagen

$73.50 – 30 day supply

Help drive cellular energy production and promote cellular repair with TRU NIAGEN® PRO 500. This supplement delivers the highest dose available today of NIAGEN® nicotinamide riboside (NR). With 500mg of NR in each capsule, it increases NAD+ an estimated 80%.

• Significantly increases NAD+
• Supports ongoing mitochondrial health

• Increases cellular energy production*

Buy Resveracel

$44.00 – 30 day supply

ResveraCel supports healthy aging in several ways. 300mg Nicotinamide riboside (NR) supports the multiple functions of cellular mitochondria‚ helping to regulate cellular aging and providing positive support for metabolic syndrome. 150mg Resveratrol mimics the effect of calorie restriction by activating the sirtuin group of proteins and has shown promise in clinical studies by attenuating the effects of several age-related conditions. 250mg Quercetin phytosome also enhances sirtuin activity – research indicates that it slows the breakdown of resveratrol in the body. Betaine provides premier support for methylation‚ a crucial body process that contributes to the health of the heart‚ blood vessels‚ brain‚ nervous system‚ and liver.

Buy NAD Gold

$90.00 – 50 day-supply

The only liposomal source of NMN, the most direct and stable precursor to our body’s natural ‘anti-aging’ molecule, NAD+. With the addition of TMG to support methylation, this powerful formula promotes the replenishment and rejuvenation of your cells and metabolism.

Schedule NAD+ Infusion

$500-$750 (500mg-1000mg)

Infusion has been shown safely deliver NAD+ and recent studies suggest it is quickly utilized and drawn out of the bloodstream. This “direct route” of delivery bypasses the digestive system where NAD+ precursors may be poorly absorbed and excreted.

Want to Learn More?

Reach out to us anytime with questions or to customize an optimal wellness plan based on your biochemistry at or schedule HERE.

Megan Barnett, MS

You Might Also Enjoy...

Movement is Medicine Podcast

In this episode, Dr O and Jeff Grimm cover a wide range of topics: coronavirus (Covid-19), benefits of Vitamin C, healing properties of mushrooms, cancer, the importance of vitamin D, hydration, how to boost your immune system, importance of sleep, stress,

Tips for Cooking and Eating Well in Quarantine

Even for those of us that were already in a regular food prep and cooking routine, this is a whole new level.  I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize how much I relied on grabbing a salad on-the-go or popping into Whole Foods to pick up dinner from t