Vitamin B3 for Muscular Wasting Disease
In my two newsletters on orthomolecular pioneer, Dr. Abram Hoffer (one,two), and his research on vitamin B3, I address the use of B3 to treat high cholesterol, mental illness, alcoholism, and schizophrenia.
I then went on to point out that, “vitamin B3, in the form of niacin (nicotinic acid), or niacinamide (nicotinamide), is converted in the body into its main metabolically active form: the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD). More than 400 enzymes require NAD to catalyze reactions in the body, which is more than for any other vitamin-derived coenzyme. Given the body’s many requirements for NAD, it has been argued that the most important role of B3 is to make NAD molecules. NAD is essential for certain critical biological functions, including energy production in the mitochondria (i.e. ATP), and cellular repair and defense”.
Thus, it made sense when this new study from an international team of scientists, led by University of Helsinki, reported that “vitamin B3, niacin, has therapeutic effect in progressive muscle disease”.
The researchers pointed out that rodent studies have shown vitamin B3 to boost energy metabolism, and that this is most likely due to B3 being a precursor for NAD, “a molecular switch of metabolism between fasting and growth modes”. And, fasting has been shown to promote health and longevity (though only in rodent studies, as far as they are concerned).
So, when the investigators, led by academy professor Anu Suomalainen-Wartiovaara, found lowered NAD levels in the blood and muscles of patients with mitochondrial myopathy, they decided to do some testing.
Mitochondrial myopathy is “characterized by progressive muscle weakness, exercise intolerance and cramps. Currently, no treatments that would slow down disease progression exist", said Suomalainen-Wartiovaara.
The researchers reported that “niacin treatment efficiently increased blood NAD both in patients and healthy subjects. Niacin restored NAD in the muscle of the patients to the normal level and improved strength of large muscles and mitochondrial oxidative capacity. Overall metabolism shifted towards that of normal subjects.” (Subjects received from 750-1,000 mg/day of niacin.)
The study concluded that, "Our results are a proof-of-principle that NAD deficiency exists in humans and that NAD boosters can delay progression of mitochondrial muscle diseases”.
Of course, these findings can be extrapolated to other diseases which involve mitochondrial malfunctions, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia. And, certainly, it behooves anyone dealing with ailments involving fatigue, muscle weakness, and/or muscular wasting, to experiment with taking B3. (Refer to the newsletters on Dr. Hoffer for recommended doses and forms of B3.) And for more on the subject of muscular wasting, see my newsletter, Preserving Muscle Mass as We Age.
Vitamin D Counterspin
After all the convincing evidence on vitamin D levels and reduced potential for catching COVID-19 (presented in a previous newsletter), it is no surprise that those opposed to natural therapies would put out a counterspin. This first one comes from the UK, where scientists from the University of Birmingham have published (in the journal BMJ, Nutrition, Prevention and Health) a vitamin D paper warning against high doses of vitamin D supplementation.
According to their study “there is currently insufficient scientific evidence to show vitamin D can be beneficial in preventing or treating Covid-19”.
The study opens with, “It is absolutely essential that advice given to the public is evidence-based, accurate and timely; anything less would mislead and has the potential to cause harm. Popular information channels, such as social media platforms, have been rife with misinformation that has been perpetuated by fear and uncertainty. This has been the case particularly for diet and lifestyle advice”.
They believe, evidently, that reports suggesting that high doses of vitamin D could reduce risk of catching COVID-19, and reduce severity of symptoms, are both wrong and dangerous.
Therefore, they apparently investigated current scientific material on vitamin D and its use for preventing and treating both COVID-19 and general respiratory tract infections.
After examining most all previous studies on the subject, they apparently found no evidence linking high doses (4,000 IU and up) of vitamin D with helping to prevent or treat symptoms of COVID-19, and that the general public should avoid such doses (without medical supervision), due to the dangers of hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood).
They went so far as to deny the validity of many studies that have found that lower vitamin D status is associated with acute respiratory tract infections.
These researchers claimed that since the majority of the data used in previous studies was taken from populations in developing countries, we cannot extrapolate the finding to the more developed countries (us), due to “external factors”.
The co-author of this paper, Professor Judy Buttriss, Director General British Nutrition Foundation concluded that, “In line with the latest Public Health England guidance on vitamin D, we recommend that people consider taking a vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms [400 iu] a day during the winter months (from October to March), and all year round if their time outside is limited.”
Okay, I can see being concerned about “high” doses, though I would not consider 4,000 IU daily to be of concern. And, if it were of concern, one would only need to also take vitamin K2, in order to ensure that any excess calcium drawn into the blood by vitamin D, would be redeposited back into the skeletal structure. But, recommending that the average person take the archaic amount of only 400 IU daily, even in the winter? That borders on criminal.
Here again are four studies I referred to in my newsletter Vitamin D Status and COVID-19 on the value of vitamin D in preventing contracting COVID-19, and reducing severity of outcome.
Vitamin D Insufficiency is Prevalent in Severe COVID-19
Vitamin D Supplementation Could Possibly Improve Clinical Outcomes of Patients Infected with Coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19)
The role of Vitamin D in the prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 infection and mortality
The Possible Role of Vitamin D in Suppressing Cytokine Storm and Associated Mortality in COVID-19 Patients
In addition, here are five studies I referred to in my newsletter Vitamin D and Viruses, showing benefit for preventing and treating all upper respiratory tract infections.
Vitamin D Deficiency Causes Deficits in Lung Function and Alters Lung Structure
Vitamin D and the Immune System
A review of Vitamin D effects on common respiratory diseases: Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis
Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data
Respiratory Epithelial Cells Convert Inactive Vitamin D to Its Active Form: Potential Effects on Host Defense