NuCell IM featured in the article ‘Nucleotides – the building blocks of life’

Functional Sports Nutrition (FSN) is the magazine for the individuals and professionals who are serious about sport, and features all the latest advances in sports nutrition. This July/August 2011 issue includes an article featuring the ground breaking research on the sports recovery supplement, NuCell IM, this article follows:

‘Nucleotides – building blocks of life’.




Click to download this article as a PDF.


[blockquote]“The problem is that foods rich in nucleotides are now rarely on our menu. Meat products from organs such as liver, kidney, intestines and lung are particularly rich sources of nucleotides, but are now rarely eaten.”[/blockquote]


DNA is the substance inside each and every cell that carries our genetic blueprint. As shown by the characteristic diagram, it is made from building blocks called nucleotides. There is a particular need for sufficiently available nucleotides in cells that divide often. This is the case for our immune cells, which have to divide rapidly in order to respond fast enough to an infection. But also the cells lining our digestive tract, called intestinal villi, are frequently replaced and are in of need of nucleotides for repair. The body is able to recycle old nucleotides from worn out cells (the salvage pathway) or to make new nucleotides (by de novo synthesis) from sources such as glucose and glutamine. However, this process is not very energy-efficient; it’s time-consuming and metabolically taxing. Thus, since the body has only a finite capacity to provide its own nucleotides, it is uniquely able to extract them from foods in our diet which contain them in substantial quantities.


Nucleotides and Immunity

In order to stay healthy, it is crucial for our bodies to be able to rapidly respond to special needs and stressful circumstances. For example, when infected with the Flu, millions of viruses invade our body: these need to be destroyed in order to regain normal health. It therefore becomes crucial that the body has the availability of sufficient nucleotides to rapidly and efficiently respond by producing enough new white blood cells to overcome the infection. If the nucleotide supply is insufficient, the Flu viruses will proliferate unhindered, which may lead to more severe symptoms and prolonged illness. Conversely, with enough nucleotides the infection can be quickly counteracted during its initial stages.


As with many other nutrients, the evidence of the effectiveness and importance of dietary nucleotides was first demonstrated in animal nutrition where they are widely used in fish, poultry, pigs, cattle and horses to enhance performance and to intensify and accelerate natural immune response. Nucleotides are not yet considered essential nutrients for humans, but stress, physical exertion, illness, poor diet and the excessive use of antibiotics and alcohol increase their need in order to facilitate timely and effective cell proliferation. Human breast milk is especially rich in nucleotides. Many infant formulas now contain them because studies have shown that babies fed nucleotide-supplemented infant formula experience better growth and development, maintain a healthier immune system, and have increased levels of beneficial intestinal bacteria which reduce gastrointestinal distress.


In adults, advantageous effects were found in markers of immune function: i.e. salivary immunoglobulin-A (sIgA), which is involved in the first defence against coughs and colds. From a more holistic point of view, it is interesting that both innate and acquired immunity need rapid and unhindered cell proliferation for proper functionality. Unfortunately, cells of the immune system lack the potential to synthesise nucleotides themselves. Other cells not capable of producing sufficient amounts of nucleotides include gastrointestinal and blood cells. Importantly, nucleotides do not stimulate innate or acquired immunity, but rather provide the resource for unhindered cell proliferation, gene expression, and response to special environmental and physical challenges. Their universal use and fundamental functionality and efficacy in every living organism make nucleotides a valuable management tool for many stress and health related conditions.


Dietary and Supplemental Nucleotides

Nucleotides have also gained interest in the area of food allergies or sensitivities because the gut and the immune system are dependent on their ready supply to meet the rapid “turnover” of cells. Nucleotides modulate the expression of inflammatory reactions in the intestine. In infants, nucleotides boost the production of Immunoglobulins and increase the tolerance of food. Another outcome, and probably the most interesting one, is the improvement of gut health: nucleotides strikingly increase the length of intestinal villi (shown in Figure 2), the structures in our gut which constitute the enormous surface of our gastrointestinal tract. For instance, the incidence and duration of childhood diarrhoea is reduced when supplemental nucleotides are given. Improvements were also found in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a very common gastrointestinal disease.


Intestinal villi

Intestinal villi

The problem is that foods rich in nucleotides are now rarely on our menu. Meat products from organs such as liver, kidney, intestines and lung are particularly rich sources of nucleotides, but are now rarely eaten. Modest vegetarian sources include yeast extract, mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower. In the light of a widespread tendency to cut down on adequate animal-derived foods and the common low consumption of vegetables, it seems reasonable that our overall intake is substantially lower than in pre-industrialised times and populations where a hunter-gatherer type diet was common. Adding nucleotide-rich foods or taking supplements derived from yeast may improve gut integrity, digestive processes and possibly diminish some food intolerances. It may also be relevant for patients of celiac disease in helping speed up the recovery of the gut villi damaged by a gluten-containing diet.


There are a couple of contraindications for taking nucleotides as supplements: because of its purine content, people who are genetically predisposed, have a history of, or suffer from gout are generally advised not to supplement nucleotides. Furthermore, the strong immune-enhancing effect prohibits the use of nucleotides for sufferers of auto-immune diseases and users of immune-repressive medications.


Nucleotides for Athletes: Improved Recovery and Muscle-to-fat Ratio

Body tissue is constantly catabolised during training and competition and has to be rebuilt. Without prior physical training and concomitant tissue break-down, no muscle build-up, strength enhancement or performance improvements will occur. Furthermore, the more quickly cells are resynthesised after workouts, the faster and better will be the recovery. Tissues or cells with a high turnover rate such as the skin, gut-lining, white and red blood cells, as well as growing and recovery tissues, need a steady resynthesis of DNA and high turnover rate of RNA. Particularly, in phases of intensive training, an additional supply of nucleotides through dietary intake is important. Nucleotides are essential for muscle function in different ways: besides protein synthesis, they improve oxygen transport and reduce the effects of lesions in the intestinal tract and muscles.


Hard physical training is a significant stress factor for athletes with various negative outcomes. For example, the levels of immunosuppressive substances like the stress hormone cortisol increase and thereby reduce the defence forces of our body. As a result, decreased levels of the important immunoglobulin sIgA have been found in athletes prone to physical stress. Nucleotide supplementation for 60 days significantly increased sIgA compared to a placebo. Additionally, in the liver and muscles, lower serum levels of stress indicators like creatinase and lactate deyhdrogenase were found after nucleotide supplementation versus the placebo, demonstrating improved recovery from physical stress.


Regarding lipoprotein metabolism, nucleotides are advantageous for endurance and strength athletes alike. Nucleotides are first transported to the liver where they promote the synthesis of protein instead of fatty acids, thereby optimising the muscle-to-fat ratio. This effect is not only significant for lean muscle build-up, but also for weight management. In conjunction with lipoprotein metabolism, effects of nucleotide supplementation have demonstrated increased levels of (good) HDL-cholesterol.


Dietary nucleotides offer pre-absorptive benefits in that they serve as fuel to the gut flora (e.g. bifidus bacteria), which improves intestinal health and nutrient absorption. Our gut is the organ with the highest immune capacity of the body. Therefore, a sufficient supply of nucleotides reduces the incidence of intestinal infections. Improved gut health is positive on overall health in general. The absorption of all nutrients like amino acids, minerals, vitamins and other micronutrients takes place in the gut.


NuCell IM – a clinically tested nucleotide supplement

For the serious athlete, supplemental nucleotides may constitute the extra building blocks that are needed during times of extraordinary demand, such as during recovery from strenuous exercise or injury and as prophylaxis to prevent or overcome infections. Even the harmful effects on gut flora from antibiotics may be reversed more rapidly. In several studies*, supplemented nucleotides were shown to more rapidly restore reduced hematocrit values (red blood cell counts) which in turn, improved oxygen supply and uptake.


One double-blind study demonstrated reduced cortisol values after 60 days of NuCell IM supplementation compared to the placebo and pre-supplementation, along with improved sIgA levels. Cortisol is a stress marker and its reduction after physical exercise points to reduced exertion and improved recovery. Because cortisol is also a testosterone inhibitor, its reduction is also advantageous for protein synthesis and muscle build-up. As mentioned above, the increased sIgA values indicate a strengthening of the athletes’ immunity. The measured differences on IgA and cortisol were highly significant (p<0.0001) [1] and the results have been confirmed in another publication by the same authors (2).


An unpublished study done by McNaughton et al. with NuCell IM found substantially enhanced (good) HDL-cholesterol of 15% vs. placebo and even a drop in the control group after supplementation for 60 days (see Figure 3). Additionally, slightly lower (bad) LDL-cholesterol levels were measured. Earlier studies on nucleotides examined the influence on immunity with respect to cold and flu symptoms. NuCell IM supplementation for 28 days reduced the symptoms of a common cold or flu infection or secondary infection: painful sinuses, earache, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, and headache (3).


Much potential exists for the use of nucleotides in a sports person‘s supplement regime. By supporting a more rapid turnover of immune, digestive, muscle and blood cells, along with improving anabolic vs. catabolic drive, this “new” type of nutrient can be a real support to the training and recovery processes of a serious athlete.


Figure 3 – Nucleotide supplements increase HDL


*Studies on nucleotides in athletes were undertaken at the University of Bath, with the supplement corresponding to NuCell IM, manufactured by Swiss biochemical company Pro Bio Ltd.



[list type=”3″]

  • 1. McNaughton et al (2006). The effects of a nucleotide supplement on salivary IgA and Cortisol after moderate endurance exercise. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 46:84-89.
  • 2. McNaughton et al (2007). The effects of a nucleotide supplement on the immune and metabolic response to short term, high intensity exercise performance in trained male subjects. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 47(1):112-118.
  • 3. Davidson et al (2002). A randomised, double blind placebo controlled Phase II exploratory trial to assess the effect of Nucell® supplementation on perceived symptoms of the common cold and markers of immune function. Queen Margaret University College, Dep. of Dietetics, Edinburgh, Scotland.


Other Nucleotide studies:

[list type=”3″]

  • Grimble, G.K. (1996) Why are dietary nucleotides essential nutrients? British Journal of Nutrition, 76:475-478.
  • Jyonouchi, H. (1994). Nucleotide Actions on Humoral Immune Responses. Journal of Nutrition. 124:138S-143S.
  • Uauy, R. (1994). Nonimmune System Response to Dietary Nucleotides. Journal of Nutrition. 124:157S-159S.
  • Van Buren C.T. (1994). The Role of Nucleotides in Adult Nutrition. Journal of Nutrition. 124:160S-164S.
  • Köppel, P. (2001). The Role of Nucleotides in the Body. Unpublished, Pro Bio, Switzerland.
  • Tanaka et al (1980). Improved Medium für Selective Isolation and Enumeration of Bifidobacterium. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 40(5):866 ff.



[blockquote]About the Author

Dr. Peter Koeppel has a PhD in Biochemistry and Immunology. He was trained in Biochemistry with a special interest in clinical Immunology at the Institute of Virology at the University of Zürich. He then worked as a researcher in osteoarthritis and osteoporosis in a pharmaceutical company in Basel. Since 1989 he has been involved in producing special additives for human nutrition for ProBio Ltd, laterally becoming the managing director of this company in year 2000.[/blockquote]

What is the point to acupuncture?

I think most people are mystified by the notion of acupuncture. In the past it has often been conveyed as a wacky Far Eastern form of healing and pain relief that has no scientific explanation. This actually is far from the truth. Indeed, acupuncture can now be obtained, if you have the lucky postcode, on the NHS. Currently, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that acupuncture is considered as a treatment option for one condition: lower back pain1.


This year a researcher, Mark J. Zylka, a neuroscience (brain and nervous system) researcher at the University of North Carolina, announced that his research paves the way for “making acupuncture a hundred times more effective”. Zylka admits that he had never previously held in much regard acupuncture, because he thought there was no credible scientific explanation.


Previously, researcher, Goldman, and his team, found that needle stimulation caused the localized release of nucleotides and adenosine at acupuncture points, thereby reducing sensitivity to painful stimuli*. (Goldman et al: Adenosine A1 receptors mediate local anti-nociceptive* effects of acupuncture. Nat Neurosci 2010, 13:883–888.)


Zylka’s new research is all about advancing this knowledge that traditional acupuncture needles can stimulate the release of nucleotides in our body that convert into adenosine, which makes us less sensitive to pain. Nucleotides, and especially the nucleoside, adenosine, are the body’s natural painkillers. Nucleotides are found naturally in the foods we eat, and our body makes billions of them every day, for a multitude of vital purposes, not least to dull chronic pain.


Back to Zylka’s research! He has been working with an enzyme that makes adenosine in the body. This enzyme is used in hospitals, where it is injected into the spine, in order to provide pain relief for a few days. Because this is an invasive procedure, it generally is only used for those in excruciating pain. Zylka’s research uses this protein in combination with acupuncture needles, which act as the delivery system. The research of the team aimed to mimic the pain relief that occurs with acupuncture, but have it last longer. This research has been in relative small scale so far. But, with these enzyme injections applied in typical acupuncture fashion, successfully outlasting the pain relief of traditional acupuncture one hundred times over, more exhaustive research is bound to follow. The aim is to provide up to six days of relief, lasting even longer than a dose of anaesthetic, which typically only lasts a few hours. This research was published recently in the journal Molecular Pain; (Zylka et al, Molecular Pain 2012, 8:28 doi:10.1186/1744-8069-8-28).


Acupuncture is also used to reduce the painful symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and is effective for some sufferers. There are registered acupuncturists2, who have been trained in the use of acupuncture techniques to reduce the symptoms of cramping, pain, and other IBS symptoms.


Perhaps we should also look at our dietary intake of these wonderful pain dulling nutrients, namely nucleotides. This could be a way of making acupuncture even more effective at pain relief for IBS sufferers. Some foods naturally contain high levels of nucleotides, offal, meat, fish, and yeast extracts hold the greatest content. Unfortunately, the Western diet generally does not include much offal, such as liver, kidneys and tripe. Such foods are predominant in the diet of the countries, such as China, where acupuncture is used as a front-line treatment. Could the higher content of nucleotides in the diet of people in the Far East be one of the main reasons why acupuncture is so effective and therefore so predominent in the Far East?


It is unlikely that many people in the West will be prepared to eat offal foods, so perhaps more consideration should be taken to supplementing the diet with nucleotide-rich health products, such as IntestAid IB or NuCell IM, which are formulated with purified nucleotides, including adenosine. Clinical research on health supplement IntestAid IB conducted using participants with the symptoms of IBS, showed a significant effect on reducing abdominal pain.


What’s the point, acupuncture? So, perhaps eating or taking more nucleotides as a health supplement is the ‘point’ for the effectiveness of acupuncture and supporting the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome!


1. NHS Choices

2. British Acupuncture Council

3. British Medical Acupuncture Society

4. Nucleotide Nutrition Ltd, IntestAid IB, NuCell IM

DNA, nucleotides – your life depends on them!

Our body is jam packed full of DNA and nucleotides. Indeed the DNA in each cell of the body is built from 3 billion nucleotides. Yet, do we actually know what they are, and do we care? We should do, our lives depend on them.


Before we can appreciate how important they are for our continuing healthy life, we first of all, need to understand what DNA and nucleotides are. There is a great ‘computer’ analogy accredited to Bill Gates, the creator of Microsoft, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” Software is a set of instructions for a new program in a computer, likewise, DNA, contains a set of instructions for the assembly of parts, namely proteins, within a cell.


You can also think of DNA as like a written language. For example, both b-o-y-s and y-o-b-s contain the same four letters, but convey different meanings based on their sequence alone. When sequenced correctly, nucleotides, the building blocks in the DNA, tells the cell to mobilise to link amino acids into proteins. The precise sequence of these amino acids, specified by the DNA, is crucial to ensuring that a protein is properly assembled and functional. Damage to the DNA creates errors in assembly, and also to its own replication, namely the sequence of the five different nucleotide building blocks.


So, now we know what DNA and nucleotides are, and why they are so important. We also need to understand how we can protect our DNA, and help to ensure normal DNA and gene replication, and reduce the risk of cancer development. There have to be a number of changes to the genes within a cell before it turns into a cancer cell.


5 ways to protect yourself:

[list type=”3″]

  • Prevent damage to the skin from sun burn
  • Avoid living and working in areas of high pollution
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid asbestos
  • Eat healthily



A study funded by Cancer Research UK has estimated that a third of cancer cases in the UK are linked to smoking, alcohol, diet, or being overweight. In the western world, many of us eat too much red and processed meat and not enough fresh fruit and vegetables. This type of diet is known to increase the risk of cancer. Drinking alcohol can also increase the risk of developing some types of cancer.


Recently, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, discovered that early on in a cancer, there aren’t enough DNA building blocks, nucleotides, to support the rate of DNA synthesis. When this happens, the genome (total genetic material) can become unstable and develop mutations that further deregulate the cancer. Bester et al. Nucleotide deficiency promotes genomic instability in early stages of cancer development. Cell. 2011 Apr 29;145(3):435-46.


This research suggests that a new way to prevent precancerous cells from developing could be to increase the amount of available DNA building blocks, nucleotides, so that the DNA could be synthesized properly and with fewer additional mutations.


A diet rich in ‘nucleotides’ would include foods such as liver, kidney, yeast extract, meat, fish, mushrooms, broccoli, and pulses, so not untypical to Palleo and Wartime diets – Grandma did know best!. Additionally, there are supplements that include purified nucleotides.