This is a post to share which supplements I take.
It’s worth noting that I don’t hold myself up as a picture of amazing health.
Rather, I’m just a student just like yourself, who continually tries to learn and improve.
Here’s what I take:
Supplements on the left, I take every day:
- Omega-3 Fish Oil – 1 capsule per day (700 mg EPA, 240 mg DHA)
- Magnesium Citrate – 200 mg per day
- Vitamin D3 – 4,000iu per day (I don’t get a lot of sun)
- Vitamin K2 MK7 – 45 mcg per day
Supplements on the right, I take regularly, but not necessarily daily:
- Vitamin C – 500 mg ~3-4x per week. I avoid taking after heavy exercise, due to it blunting the inflammatory repair response
- Selenium – 100 mcg – ~3-4x per week
- Zinc Picolinate – ~3-4x per week
The daily pill box isn’t put in the image by accident, I use it every day. I fill it and then keep it somewhere obvious, which helps with remembering to take them.
Whilst the above might not seem like a lot… that doesn’t mean I don’t try and experiment with other supplements. Here are *most* – but not all of the current supplements I have sitting on my shelf:
Currently all the supplements I take are essential micronutrients, with the goals being:
- Avoid essential micronutrient insufficiency, which can lead to premature ageing (see Bruce Ames’ triage theory on YouTube)
- Feel and function optimally
Omega-3 fatty acids – I eat sardines and/or salmon 3-4 times per week, and then add the fish oil supplement on top. Will check my levels via the Omega-3 index test, and then adjust based on that. Last test in 2021 was ~7%, which is lower than the desirable 8-12% range they suggest.
Magnesium – whilst I of course eat vegetables, I don’t think I get enough leafy greens, avocados and other foods to always reach the ~400 mg per day RDA. The next blood test I have will include serum magnesium, so I’ll adjust dose if need after that. Last result (2021) was in normal range.
Vitamin D3 – Even in summer I don’t get a lot of sunshine, so I supplement all year round. Last test (2021) was 59 ng/mL – so within acceptable threshold.
Vitamin K2 – If I was confident I was eating enough green leafy vegetables, or Natto, I might skip this. As it is, I take a small dose (45 mcg) 3-4x per week.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is important for a lot of functions, including endogenous collagen production. It’s also water soluble, which is handy as you don’t have to control dosage as tightly as fat soluble vitamins. I don’t really consume fruits, just vegetables, so in case I don’t get enough vitamin C, I supplement it. The vitamin C RDA for adults is 75 – 90 mg per day.
Selenium – In my previous heavy metals test I was selenium deficient, thus I’ve added it as a low-dose supplement and will re-test in the future. The selenium RDA for adults is 55 mcg per day.
Zinc – I started supplementing zinc more regularly during Covid, and haven’t stopped since. Will need to do a blood test for zinc levels then re-evaluate. The zinc RDA for adults is 8 – 11 mg per day.
Whilst my rationale for the current supplementation isn’t terrible, it could be much better. Inspired by Michael Lustgarten’s meticulous process, I’m interested in integrating Morgan Levine’s Phenotypic age calculator into future health decisions.
This calculator works by taking 9 blood test results, and calculating a “biological age score” from them. Just like all biological age calculators, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. From there, one can make diet and/or lifestyle adjustments, re-test and see if they improved or worsened your score.
^ Image shows the blood test results used as inputs to the test – source
One advantage of a blood based biomarker test over a DNA methylation test, is that you can see which specific markers have worsened and target them specifically. For example, if your glucose was higher than last time, you might tackle that differently to if your creatinine (kidney health marker) was higher.
Michael has meticulously created a document that lists his best understanding of the optimal levels for each biomarker.
I’ve used the Phenotypic age calculator once before, but haven’t yet got into a routine of testing it and using it to inform my supplement + lifestyle decisions.
Thoughts on other compounds
I had an email from a reader asking why I wasn’t currently taking:
They’re all interesting compounds, and I’ve shared my thoughts on them below.
Note that I refer a few times to the Intervention Testing Program (ITP), funded by America’s National Institute of Aging. Their idea was to test compounds over the lifespan of mice, versus a control group, and see which increase lifespan.
In lieu of human RCTs, it’s some of the best data we have for whether or not specific compounds *may* increase human lifespan.
Of course, we’re not mice, so we still need the human studies. But what it does do is help us to prioritize where to direct the huge sums of money needed to do the applicable tests in humans.
Of the compounds mentioned above I’m most excited about Rapamycin. It has shown life extension benefits in every animal model its been tested in so far. However, it hasn’t yet been clinically tested for lifespan extension in humans.
I have personally experimented with dosing it once weekly for around 8 months. In terms of side effects, at higher (for me) doses, I do get the often reported mouth ulcers. If I reduced the dose then they didn’t occur. Fortunately they were the only side effects I noticed. I didn’t observe any effects day to day – which is interesting.
Possibly I felt slightly more inclined to get out and exercise in the day or two after taking it, but that could have been placebo, as it wasn’t particularly pronounced.
In this post I’ve made a note that I want to experiment using the Levine phenotypic age clock – so I will probably resume the Rapamycin after I’ve done the next set of blood tests needed for it.
A website with a lot of ongoing discussion on Rapamycin is rapamycin.news.
Whlist metformin is interesting from the point of view of reducing blood glucose in those with chronically elevated blood glucose. Particularly if dietary modification to resolve the issue is not taking place. I’m still unclear of the benefits for people with healthy blood glucose.
In terms of the intervention testing program, it didn’t increase lifespan on its own, but it did increase lifespan in synergy with rapamycin.
^ The graphs above compare metformin and metformin + rapamycin in both female and male cohorts of mice. Source
In the paper’s supplementary information, Table 4, they demonstrate that rapamycin + metformin appeared to outperform rapamycin on its own, based on their historical testing data.
If there were no potential downsides, then I could see rationale for taking metformin “just in case” it helps. However, there is some early data suggesting in interferes with some of the beneficial adaptations to exercise, such as:
- Reduction in gaining lean muscle mass whilst on an exercise program, compared to placebo1Metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to progressive resistance exercise training in older adults: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, multicenter trial: The MASTERS trial – Walton et al (Sept 2019).
- Inhibition of mitochondrial adaptations and improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness by 50 percent and diminished whole-body insulin sensitivity after aerobic exercise2Metformin inhibits mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training in older adults – Konopka et al (2018).
Thus as someone with blood glucose in the normal range, who typically fasts for 16+ hours per day, and exercises regularly, I don’t currently see rationale for taking metformin. However, this is open to change.
I think the idea of boosting NAD levels as they decline with age sounds theoretically beneficial.
Another compound that’s also an NAD precursor, called Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), was tested via the Intervention Testing Program (ITP) and interestingly didn’t extend the lifespan in the mouse models it was tested in (source).
Currently NMN doesn’t have a lot of human data, so I’m waiting for positive data in those studies before I take it.
A recent study that raises questions around whether NMN will be beneficial is this one.
The study appeared to find that NAD levels were temporarily boosted over the 16 week test period, however by week 16 NAD levels had returned to baseline.
The image below shows this (from figure 6 of the study):
This raises the question of whether or not homeostasis is kicking in and adjusting down endogenous production of NAD.
We will need more studies to elucidate if this is actually happening, and if it is, whether that means all benefits are negated (or not).
Whilst resveratrol didn’t extend lifespan in the ITPs (source), it does have interesting human data around it.
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy people3An Antiinflammatory and Reactive Oxygen Species Suppressive Effects of an Extract of Polygonum Cuspidatum Containing Resveratrol – Dandona et al (2010)
- Improvements in memory tasks for obese, but otherwise healthy 50-75 year olds4Effects of Resveratrol on Memory Performance, Hippocampal Functional Connectivity, and Glucose Metabolism in Healthy Older Adults – Flöel et al. (2014)
- Improvements in metabolic and cardiovascular markers, in people with obesity5Calorie Restriction-like Effects of 30 Days of Resveratrol Supplementation on Energy Metabolism and Metabolic Profile in Obese Humans – Schrauwen et al. – Cell Metabolism Journal (2011), hypertension, type 2 diabetes6Pilot Study of Resveratrol in Older Adults With Impaired Glucose Tolerance – Barzilai et al. (2012)7Resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress and activates the Akt pathway in type 2 diabetic patients – Wittmann et al. (2011)8Antihyperglycemic Effects of Short Term Resveratrol Supplementation in Type 2 Diabetic Patients – Netticadan et al. (2013)9The Effect of Resveratrol Supplementation on Cardio‐Metabolic Risk Factors in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double‐Blind Controlled Trial – Mozaffari‐Khosravi et al. (2019), fatty liver disease10Resveratrol improves insulin resistance, glucose and lipid metabolism in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized controlled trial – Mi et al – Digestive and Liver Disease journal (2015)11Resveratrol supplementation improves inflammatory biomarkers in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – Hekmatdoosta et al – 2014 – Nutrition Research Journal and cardiovascular disease12Consumption of a grape extract supplement containing resveratrol decreases oxidized LDL and ApoB in patients undergoing primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: A triple‐blind, 6‐month follow‐up, placebo‐controlled, randomized trial – Espín et al – 2012 – Molecular Nutrition & Food Research Journal13One-Year Consumption of a Grape Nutraceutical Containing Resveratrol Improves the Inflammatory and Fibrinolytic Status of Patients in Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease – Espín et al – 2012 – The American Journal of Cardiology.
I may add it again at some point in the future.
Glycine & Collagen
These are compounds that I’m still learning about. Glycine did in fact increase lifespan in mice via an ITP study (source).
Glycine is a non-essential amino acid. When amino acids are connected together in chains we refer to them as protein. There are essential and non-essential amino acids, and glycine is non-essential. Ie our body can synthesize it via choline, serine, hydroxyproline, and threonine14Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review – Razak et al..
Collagen is made up of amino acids, specifically glycine (~30%), proline and hydroxyproline, and requires vitamin C (ascorbic acid) as part of the process.
Our body can sythnesize collagen from the amino acids that we consume. Therefore if we never ate isolated glycine or isolated collagen powder, we would still produce collagen internally, which is great.
Getting adequate amino acids via meat and dairy is fairly straightforward. In vegetarian or vegan diets, it can be a bit more complex to ensure one gets enough.
Regarding getting collagen from the diet, without supplementing it, eating fish, such as tinned sardines (with the bones and skin in), also bone broth, will provide natural sources of collagen.
I think the jury is still out on whether or not people eating diets that contain adequate animal protein, and some collagen sources, need to supplement glycine or collagen. For now I’m not.
This is another compound I’m still learning about. In my last blood test for metals my lithium levels were within normal range. I’m not taking it for now, but that could also change.
Those are the supplements I currently take – and the rationale for others that I don’t.
No doubt things will change as we continue to learn more.
- 2Metformin inhibits mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training in older adults – Konopka et al (2018)
- 5Calorie Restriction-like Effects of 30 Days of Resveratrol Supplementation on Energy Metabolism and Metabolic Profile in Obese Humans – Schrauwen et al. – Cell Metabolism Journal (2011)
- 6Pilot Study of Resveratrol in Older Adults With Impaired Glucose Tolerance – Barzilai et al. (2012)
- 8Antihyperglycemic Effects of Short Term Resveratrol Supplementation in Type 2 Diabetic Patients – Netticadan et al. (2013)
- 10Resveratrol improves insulin resistance, glucose and lipid metabolism in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized controlled trial – Mi et al – Digestive and Liver Disease journal (2015)
- 11Resveratrol supplementation improves inflammatory biomarkers in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease – Hekmatdoosta et al – 2014 – Nutrition Research Journal
- 12Consumption of a grape extract supplement containing resveratrol decreases oxidized LDL and ApoB in patients undergoing primary prevention of cardiovascular disease: A triple‐blind, 6‐month follow‐up, placebo‐controlled, randomized trial – Espín et al – 2012 – Molecular Nutrition & Food Research Journal
- 13One-Year Consumption of a Grape Nutraceutical Containing Resveratrol Improves the Inflammatory and Fibrinolytic Status of Patients in Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease – Espín et al – 2012 – The American Journal of Cardiology