My Supplements for Longevity & Biohacking
Supplements for Longevity, Focus, Health; Importance of Micronutrients
Some of you have asked me what supplements I take, so I decided to write a post on it. I will also be writing in more detail later on why some of these supplements are important for longevity and why you should be thinking about your diet in terms of micronutrients (vitamins & minerals).
Why are supplements and micronutrients important?
Before I list out my supplements, let me try to answer the questions people most frequently ask: “Should I be taking supplements? Aren’t they “artificial”? Can’t I get the necessary supplements from my diet? Our ancestors didn’t take supplements, so is it safe to?”
“Should I be taking supplements?”
Yes, you should be taking supplements! Micronutrient deficiencies affect up to 2 billion people globally (nearly 30% of the world’s population) resulting in increased morbidity and mortality, irreversible impairment to physical and cognitive development, and substantial losses in individual and national productivity. Of course, you can get tested for your levels of vitamins & minerals before you decide to supplement.
“Can’t I get the necessary supplements from my diet?”
The chances that you are getting all the micronutrients needed from your diet is very low. And often times, even if you tried to get all the necessary micronutrients from your diet, you’d have to eat such massive quantities of the food, that it might not be possible. Then there are questions around the bioavailability of nutrients from different types of food, but I won’t go there.
“Our ancestors didn’t take supplements, so is it safe to?”
Our modern lives are very different from the lives our ancestors lived. For example, let’s look at Vitamin D, which you can get from the sun and from a supplement. Our ancestors lived in the open, getting plenty of sun. How many of us make it a goal to get even 30-40 minutes of sunlight everyday? Vitamin D deficiency is quite common (I used to be severely deficient before I started supplementing!) specially among African and Indian populations, and has many negative consequences, including low energy levels and depression. Vitamin D deficiency is also highly correlated with contracting a severe form of COVID-19!
Lastly, most of our ancestors (hunter gatherers) didn’t live beyond the age of 40. Extended lifespan sometimes comes with additional care. In fact, Dr. Bruce Ames, who popularized the Micronutrient Triage theory talks about how deficiency in micronutrients comes to haunt you only as you age. He is my hero and I’ll be dedicating an entire post on his theory later. In his words: “Folic acid deficiency does the same thing as radiation! Everyone is worried about Fukushima and radiation coming from Japan, which is incredibly tiny amounts, meanwhile they are eating these bad diets that do the same thing.”
Now, onto my supplement stack:
Coffee: I’ve written about how coffee can reverse DNA damage, boost athletic performance, and also its impact on sleep here. (Video summary here) Sure, I drink coffee for its benefits, but also because I love coffee and yes I’m pretty much addicted to it. My recent favorite is this Starbucks Iced Coffee. The flavor is so great!
MCT Oil: I sometimes add it to my coffee. It helps me focus and keeps me feeling fuller before I eat my first meal. I try to limit its usage, however, since I have an APOE4 gene and should be limiting my saturated fat because of it. But, its my go-to nootropic when I need it. This is the one I use.
NMN: I’ve written about the importance of NMN here. It raises NAD+ levels which is used by sirtuins to repair DNA damage. If this sounds gibberish, don’t worry, I’ll be writing about it soon and you will learn why NAD+ might be as important as water! Actually, you would die if you didn’t have any NAD+ in your body. Anyway, note that the positive effects of NMN have only been noted in mice studies and anecdotal human accounts, so take at your own risk. I use this brand.
If you don’t want to take a supplement to boost NAD+ levels (specially if you are in your 20s and 30s and living a decently health life, you can afford to wait for more clinical data), then you know what else boosts NAD+ levels? Exercise and Fasting! If you know me, you know I’m a huge proponent for exercising. It is the best medicine and has immense benefits. And guess what? 15 minutes is all it might take! But if you can, please lift some weights too. Muscle mass is important, specially as we age. More on it later. I’ll also be writing more extensively on why fasting is the best known measure we have for boosting longevity so far.
Vitamin D: As I wrote earlier, Vitamin D is extremely important for mood, regulation of blood pressure, immune functioning, and for the central nervous system. Vitamin D, along with Omega-3, is the common supplement in every scientist / biohacker’s list! 70% of the population in the United States is deficient in Vitamin D, so please get tested for it (should be on your blood test) and supplement. It’s fat soluble and better absorbed if you take it with healthy fats such as avocados. Thorne is my go-to brand.
Omega-3 / Fish Oil: Cannot overstate its importance! Important for cognitive functioning, fighting depression & anxiety, brain health, preventing cancer, fighting mental disorders, improving sleep etc. You get the point. It’s important. You can get it by eating fish if you don’t want to supplement. If you are vegan, try algae but you will have to take larger doses of it. My supplement here.
Zinc: Important for immunity, metabolism, DNA synthesis. I take it everyday. My brand here.
Vitamin K2: Important for heart health and bone health. Vitamin D and Vitamin K2 often go together. I take it once in a while. Buy here.
Magnesium L-Threonate: Known to improve focus and calmness and help with sleep. I was taking it every night ~30 minutes before bed, but I recently ran out of it and didn’t buy more. Matt Walker, the sleep expert, recently talked to Andrew Huberman about how everyone thinks magnesium helps with sleep, but the data points to the fact that it only helps those who are deficient in Magnesium. So, perhaps it’s not necessary to spend money on supplementing with it. But if you wish to supplement with it or are deficient in Magnesium, you can buy it here.
To get magnesium from dietary sources, your best friend is Macadamia nuts! Doug got me into these delicious nuts. He eats a lot of nuts!
PQQ: I used to take it for better mitochondrial health. May start taking it again. My choice here.
Creatine: Helps with physical performance, mental performance, and exercise recovery! I’ve written about how its an underrated supplement here. Buy here.
Turmeric / Curcumin: I don’t take this in supplement form, instead I’ll add turmeric to my pot of veggies. Turmeric is important for fighting inflammation, which is linked to aging, and I’ve written about here. Buy turmeric powder here.
Other micronutrients / foods I eat:
Garlic: Rich in Allicin which is good for anti-aging and David Sinclair talks about it too in his book LifeSpan! I add garlic powder to my food. Buy here.
Kimchi / Sauerkraut: A recent study found how a diet rich in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, kombucha increased diversity of healthy gut microbiota and led to decreased inflammation, which is linked to aging. In contrast, simply eating a high-fiber diet did not change levels of gut microbiota or reduce inflammation. That is not to say that a high-fiber diet is ineffective, but the results don't seem to be as beneficial as they are with consuming fermented food (specially over a short time period). I take 1-2 servings of kimchi or sauerkraut every day. You can find kimchi here and sauerkraut here.
Electrolytes: Helpful when I’m fasting. Helps prevent headaches which usually occur because of low sodium and electrolyte levels in the body. Could help people with Intermittent fasting too. The Nuun lemon flavor is my favorite.
Eggs / Choline: Choline is important for the brain, liver, and kidney. Choline can also boost mental performance. The body doesn’t make enough so be sure to get it from your diet. I get it from eggs.
Selenium / Brazil Nuts: Selenium is important for proper thyroid functioning, among other things. Eating 2-3 brazil nuts everyday will give you the required amount of selenium needed. Buy here.
Nutritional yeast / Folic Acid / Vitamin B12: As I mentioned above, Dr. Bruce Ames noted how “Folic acid deficiency does the same thing as radiation! Everyone is worried about Fukushima and radiation coming from Japan, which is incredibly tiny amounts, meanwhile they are eating these bad diets that do the same thing.” I get my folic acid (Vitamin B9) from nutritional yeast. Doug makes this delicious yeast and cashew mix which we add to our salad. It’s so tasty that I eat tend to eat spoonfuls of it! It’s simply ground nutritional yeast, cashews and some salt. Most vegetarians also tend to be deficient in Vitamin B12 and I get mine from this yeast and cashew mix. Buy nutritional yeast here.
Cruciferous Vegetables: I’ve written about their importance in preventing aging, cancer, and inflammation here.
Ketogenic Diet: The keto diet has been my best friend as a nootropic, biohacking and focus tool! I’ve been doing it for nearly 2 years now and it’s been a game-changer for my energy levels. I don’t get any blood sugar or post-lunch crashes anymore and keto also makes it much easier to fast. Besides, data points to how it can boost NAD+ levels (see point on NMN above) I do understand that keto is not for everyone though, so I’m not one of those die-hard keto folks.
What are supplements taken by Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss & others?
That’s enough on my supplement routine and diet for now. If you want to know some of the supplements taken by Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss and other longevity experts like Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Peter Attia, check out this page.
Finally, a note on explanations and their importance for longevity
I’m a huge advocate for understanding the reasoning behind why you should take a particular action or bring about a change in your lifestyle. Good explanations make it easier to implement decisions that comes with it. While I’ve tried to provide you some information on why these vitamins might be important for you, I’ll be writing in more detail about some of them later, so watch out for that.
Ultimately, all of this feeds into longevity and slowing aging. And once you begin to understand that aging is not inevitable and what aging really is, it’s an easier decision to make better lifestyle choices.
Explanations matter. Decisions matter. Make your decisions based on good explanations. Seek good explanations.
To provide you with an explanation on aging, I am writing an Aging: the what, the why, the fix series. And don’t worry - it’s not super technical; if you don’t know by now, I write in the form of stories, conversations and comics to make longevity science more accessible and fun for everyone! Yes, science can be cool! Part 2 of the Aging series talking about DNA Methylation is in the form of a fictional story - go have fun & learn some science! Part 3 on Epigenetic clocks to be released next week, so stay tuned.
If you want to read an entire book on aging and what’s being done to reverse it, I recommend LifeSpan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair. It can change how you think about your life and world going forward. Below is a quote from the book:
“When we stay healthy and vibrant, as long as we feel young physically and mentally, our age doesn’t matter. That’s true whether you are 32, 52, or 92.”
Want more tips on science-backed lifestyle choices for longevity?
I hope I’m doing my bit to convince you that lifestyle choices matter for longevity and for staying healthy and vibrant even at the age of 92! It is possible! Some of my lifestyle actions for longevity do not require a full post, but I document them on Instagram @longevitycomics and sometimes Twitter @livelongerworld, so make sure to follow me there if you’re curious to learn more.
If you are enjoying my work and are learning from it, please like, comment, subscribe, share, and support! Any of those actions help and keeps me writing more to help with your longevity :)
Note: Some of the links to products above are Amazon affiliate links. You can support my work by using those links to buy your supplements. I do not have any affiliations to any of the brands mentioned.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical practitioner and not offering any medical advice. These are simply the supplements I take. If you are worried about anything, please consult your doctor.
Thanks - this was super helpful advice, especially since there are so many supplement brands out there; the choice paralysis is maddening. Can you also write a post maybe weighing pros/cons of taking a generic multivitamin vs specific vitamins like you have listed out here?