Firstly, I’ll give a quick overview of Rhonda’s supplements. Then later in this post, I’ll go into details on each one, including usage and dosage.
Rhonda’s base supplement list:
- Multivitamin – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E
- Vitamin D – Thorne Research – D3 1,000iu
- Vitamin K2 – NOW K-2 MK7, 100mcg
- Fish Oil – Norwegian Pure 3
- Krill Oil / Omega-3 Phospholipids – Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Phospholipids
- Magnesium – Thorne Research – Magnesium Citramate
Rhonda’s preferred Nootropic “Smart Drug” Choices:
- Choline – Alpha GPC – Jarrow Formulas Alpha GPC, 300mg
- Lions Maine – Four Sigmatic Organic Mushroom Elixir
- Sulforaphane – From self-grown broccoli sprouts
Further supplements Rhonda uses:
- Probiotics – Visbiome Probiotics (until recently, she took VSL #3)
- Collagen – Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen
- Nicotinamide Riboside – Thorne Research – NiaCel
- Natural Painkiller/Ibuprofen Alternative – Thorne Research – Meriva
Further foods Rhonda has recommended:
- Beet Powder – Activz Organic – For high blood pressure
- Wild Salmon Roe Caviar – VitalChoice – Natural source of EPA & DHA phospholipids
This list is compiled through a combination of Rhonda’s tweets, and her podcast episodes. The intention is to keep it as up to date as possible. If you see something that needs changing, comment below.
Rhonda’s Base Supplement List (Details)
It contains methyl folate, which can be used by people with MTHFR gene polymorphisms (half the population). It also has other goodies she likes (lutein, CoQ10, Boron etc).
Dosage: 1 capsule per day
Rhonda’s choice of Vitamin D supplement is Thorne Research D-1000. This comes in 1,000iu pills, which are quite the contrast to the 5,000iu & 10,000iu pills on the market. And thus allowing much finer control over blood plasma concentrations of D3.
Rhonda’s preferred multivitamin supplement (above) already contains 2,000IU of vitamin D3. So she often supplements with an additional 2,000IU of D3, because she usually doesn’t get much sunlight.
Rhonda emphasises that its important to take vitamin D at the right dose; too little can be detrimental to health, but conversely, too much can be toxic. That exact dose will vary from person to person based on diet and sun intake. Her goal is to maintain a blood concentration between 40 – 60 ng/ml.
In an excellent infographic, posted on her blog, she suggests 4,000IU of daily supplementation is enough to bring people that were previously deficient up to 30ng/ml, without toxicity.
Its worth being careful not to overdo the vitamin D dosing; manifestations of vitamin D toxicity include: hypercalcemia and calcinosis, the associated calcification of soft tissues including organs such as the kidneys, heart, and lungs, along with blood vessels. Not nice stuff!
Dosage: 2 capsules per day (2 x 1,000iu) – in addition to the 2,000iu already in her multivitamin – making 4,000iu total per day
Rhonda’s go to choice for K2 is NOW’s Vitamin K-2 MK7.There are two popular forms of vitamin K2 commercially available. These are MK4 and MK7. MK7 is produced by bacterial fermentation of soy (referred to as ‘natto’), and it appears to have a longer half life then MK4.
Benefits of K2 are mostly related to bone strength and arterial health (reducing calcification or even decalcifying, with a possible reduction in blood pressure).
Dosage: Rhonda takes 1 capsule (100mcg) approximately 3 times per week (not daily).
Up until recently Rhonda took the Nordic Naturals – EPA Xtra omega-3s. It’s purified fish oil that comes from anchovies and sardines. Each serving of 2 soft gels contain 1060mg EPA and 300mg DHA.
She has recently switched to a product called Norwegian Pure 3 – which apparently has slightly better purity.
She gets them direct from the manufacturer, and suggests until they’re more easily available (e.g. via Amazon), Nordic Naturals EPA Xtra is a good omega-3 alternative.
Dosage: Rhonda takes 4 pills per day of Norwegian Pure 3, which equates to 2,000mg (2g) EPA & 800mg DHA.
Krill Oil / Omega-3 Phospholipids
Rhonda previously got her omega-3 phospholipids from Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Phospholipids, but recently she has switched to getting it from wild salmon roe caviar. She gets her caviar in bulk from VitalChoice, who offer it in 2.2lbs packages that can be frozen, and then defrosted one quarter at a time.
Studies show that omega-3s phospholipids outperform regular DHA/EPA triglycerides for normalizing blood lipid profiles. Its only possible to get phospholipid omega-3s from certain biological origins, such as fish eggs (roe) and krill (tiny crustaceans that look like shrimps).
Because Rhonda consumes quite a lot of EPA & DHA (2,000mg EPA & 800mg DHA), she consumes her omega-3 phospholipid sources in addition to her regular omega-3 supplementation.
Dosage: 2x capsules per day, in addition to her non-phospholipid Omega-3 supplementation
Recently, on her podcast with Tim Ferriss, Rhonda discussed supplementing specifically with Thorne’s Magnesium Citramate. Magnesium is an essential micronutrient, crucial for mitochondrial function, and approximately 1/2 the US population is deficient in it.
Thorne’s Magnesium Citramate combines magnesium citrate with magnesium malate. Both of these forms are highly bioavailable, and can lead to increased absorption.
Dosage: 1 pill (135mg) per day
Rhonda’s preferred Nootropic “Smart Drug” Choices
Rhonda’s approach to smart drugs is quite different from most. She stays away from compounds that are inhibitors of enzymes in the brain (which rules out a large number of traditional nootropics). She also stays away from compounds that humans haven’t evolved alongside, on the basis that with novel substances, its hard to know the potential long term side effect profile.
Choline – Alpha GPC
Rhonda takes a form of choline called alpha-glycerophosphocholine (aka Alpha GPC) to sharpen her brain ahead of public speaking events. On these occasions she takes 600mg, with the aim to increase her attention and focus. Noting that 300mg didn’t appear to be enough to see benefits.
She doesn’t take this supplement very often. However, she does make a point to include natural sources of choline in her diet, such as eggs, almonds, spinach, broccoli and chicken.
Whilst there are different forms of choline, Alpha GPC is good because it is quick to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Dosage: 2x 300mg caps of Jarrow’s Alpha GPC. Taken when she needs to sharpen her brain for events such as public speaking (not daily)
This is a mushroom, also known as yamabushitake, which has been shown to have a number of benefits, including the stimulation of nerve growth factor.
Rhonda uses it for intense periods of writing / creative work.
Dosage: She takes 2x 1.5g packs of Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixir in a session.
Sulforaphane – From Self Grown Broccoli Sprouts
Sulforaphane is heavily touted for its potential life extension properties (see this separate post on its benefits). However, Rhonda also suggests it has mild nootropic abilities, based on its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (tested in mice models), coupled with its anti-inflammatory properties and positive effects on the immune system.
Rhonda explains the nootropic benefits of sulforaphane in her latest podcast with Tim Ferriss. See this excerpt for the details.
Whilst there are sulforaphane supplements available (such as Avmacol), Rhonda chooses to grow her own broccoli sprouts and then blend them into smoothies.
It’s really simple to grow broccoli sprouts, you just need a seed sprouter (Rhonda uses Ball jars + sprouter lids, but any jar + mesh will do), and some organic broccoli sprout seeds. This video gives a good overview on how to produce your own.
The dosage used in clinical trials often ranges from 30-60mg of sulforaphane. Estimates land fresh broccoli sprouts at a concentration of about 1 gram fresh weight to around 0.45mg of sulforaphane. So to achieve 30-60mg, you’d need to consume between 67-134g of sprouts.
Rhonda says (on her latest Tim Ferriss podcast) she consumes up to 4 ounces (113g) of broccoli sprouts a few times per week. Broccoli seeds yield approximately 5:1. So this means if you start off with 1 ounce of broccoli seeds, you’d end up with approximately 5 ounces of sprouts.
To achieve Rhonda’s 8 ounces consumption per week, you need to grow approximately 1 and a 1/2 ounces (43g) of seeds each week. To put a price to that, Todd’s seeds (for example) are $24 per pound (1lb = 16 ounces). So you’re looking at a cost of $2.25 of seeds per week. That’s not very expensive, given the potential long term health benefits.
Granted, if you’re consuming 4 ounces of broccoli sprouts in one sitting, its a lot. You’ll probably want to emulate Rhonda, and blend them in with a smoothie. Her blender of choice (like Joe Rogan) is the Blendtec Classic. But any decent blender will do.
Its worth also taking a look at Rhonda’s video on tripling the bioavailability of sulforaphane your sprouts. Essentially you heat your broccoli sprouts to 70C, hot enough that it disables the epithiospecifier protein, but not too hot that it disables the myrocinase enzyme (responsible for converting the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane). We do this because glucoraphanin can be converted into two forms of sulforaphane (regular sulforaphane, the stuff we want, and sulforaphane nitrile, which does not contain the anti-carcinogenic properties we want). By knocking out the epithiospecifier protein, which is needed for converting glucoraphanin to sulforaphane nitrile, we increase potential conversion to regular sulforaphane (yay!).
She uses a Famili temperature monitor to ensure she gets the water at 70C.
Further supplements Rhonda likes
Rhonda takes a maintenance dose of probiotics between once per week or once every 2 weeks. And then relies on her diet for enough fibre and nutritional diversity to maintain a healthy gut. Up until recently, the probiotic she took was called VSL #3, which actually gets shipped with a cold pack, to preserve the active probiotic ingredients. VSL #3 has been the subject of over 60 human clinical trials as a medical food in the dietary management of gastrointestinal and liver disorders
Since Rhonda had a baby boy, and began breastfeeding, she has upped her probiotic intake to once daily. This move was based on research from a new study that showed mothers who supplemented with the probiotic Visbiome during late pregnancy and, while nursing, lowered inflammatory biomarkers in the breastmilk and improved symptoms of colic in their newborns. Rhonda currently takes Visbiome, which is touted to be equivalent to VSL#3, and is around $15 cheaper per pack.
Both Rhonda and Tim Ferriss take a collagen supplement by Great Lakes. Its beneficial for the connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints and bone.
Rhonda is cautiously optimistic on this supplement.
“Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) levels in humans.
NAD+ is a key co-enzyme that the mitochondria in every cell of our bodies depend on to fuel all basic functions.
NAD+ levels drop as we age and when our bodies are stressed by disease or chronic inflammation.
Research in mice used NMN (Nicotinamide Mono-Nucleotide) to increase NAD+ levels can “turn back the clock” and make muscles, organs and tissues in older mice resemble that of much younger animals.
Research in humans has shown that both NMN and NR raise NAD+ levels, which helps to ameliorate some age related conditions, although it is too soon to know yet how effective it will be.”
She takes a version of the supplement from Thorne called NiaCel.
Meriva (Curcumin Phytosome)
Rhonda cites a number of examples where NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) such as Ibuprofen are potentially quite bad for our health. And suggests an alternative, a highly bio available form of curcumin, known as Meriva. Specifically Rhonda takes Thorne Reasearch’s Meriva.
Further foods Rhonda has recommended:
This recommendation comes via Rhonda’s Instagram post on beets. She talks about the many studies that have shown positive effects of beets on blood pressure, endothelial function, heart health, improved blood flow to the brain, and endurance performance. Apparently beets are one of the highest sources of nitrate (which then gets converted into nitric oxide) and is thought to increase blood flow to the brain. Beets are also high in vitamin C, which prevents the conversion of nitrates into nitrosamines (those carcinogens that are formed from the nitrites which are used as preservatives).
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the post is her anecdotal story of using beets (powder) to help rid her mother and mother-in-law of high blood pressure (without meds!). Rhonda says:
“My mother was diagnosed with high blood pressure (after multiple visits) and her physician wanted to get her on blood pressure meds. She opted to wait and see what I said (thank you, mom). I got her some organic beet extract powder to use once or twice a day. She used 9 grams a day for two weeks and went back to get her blood pressure measured again. Her blood pressure was completely normal and now she does not need the blood pressure meds! After this, I ordered some for my mother-in-law who was also diagnosed with high blood pressure. The same thing happened to her…her blood pressure is normal! While this is not a clinical trial, I’m pretty happy that the beetroot extract seemed to help lower blood pressure in two people that I care about deeply. The product I got for them was by Activz”
High blood pressure is a huge issue for people as they get into later life, as it increases the risk of a haemorrhagic stroke in the brain. So if this anecdote is applicable to even a small % of people with high blood pressure, that’s huge. The Activz Organic Beet Powder Rhonda used for her family has the equivalent of 1 cup of beet juice per 9 gram scoop.
Wild Salmon Roe Caviar
Rhonda particularly likes VitalChoice’s wild salmon roe caviar as a source of omega-3 because the fats are in phospholipid form, which has greater bioavailability to be transported into the brain via the mfsd2a transporter. This is the form that is best taken up by the brain (including the developing fetal brain). It also has a good amount of astaxanthin which protects the omega-3’s from oxidation and does the same for neurons.
Studies looking at DHA and EPA levels in red blood cells have shown a correlation between higher omega-3 status and having a to 2 cm larger brain volume. Therefore getting omega-3 into and keeping it in the brain is definitely a brain aging priority for Rhonda. Salmon roe provides ~438 mg of EPA and ~514 mg of DHA per ounce.
One way in which she likes to eat them, is to put them on half an avocado with some fresh lemon juice.
Rhonda opts to buy her salmon roe caviar in bulk from VitalChoice. It comes frozen and sectioned into quadrants, so she thaws one quadrant at a time. Rhonda opts for their bulk 2.2lbs option, which has big cost savings vs smaller quantities. See this post on Instagram for Rhonda talking more about VitalChoice’s salmon roe caviar.
Rhonda previously took an ‘activated’ B-Complex produced by Swanson Ultra (see this tweet) in addition to her multivitamin ONE (which already contains the B vitamin complex). Swanson’s B vitamin supplement is specifically formulated for high bio availability. It includes 400mcg of folate (for those of the population who can’t process folic acid efficiently). More info can be found on the Swanson product page.
Rhonda has since stopped adding a B complex, because she gets enough B vitamins from her diet + daily ONE multivitamin. Rhonda does not have the 677CT or 677TT MTHFR mutations that lead to poor B vitamin processing, and thus a need for increased intake.
However, for those like Rhonda’s Mum who have are T-homozygous on their MTHFR gene (SNP = rs1801133), which leads to poor uptake of folate, they may benefit from up to 800 micrograms supplementation of 5 methylfolate. ONE multivitamin has 400 micrograms, so this means you would need an additional source such as Swansons B-Complex, which has 400 micrograms per capsule. Other B vitamins that may be of benefit for this issue are B6 and B12.
Why is poor folate uptake a potential problem? Folate influences homocysteine levels. Low folate can mean high homocysteine, which can lead to hyperhomocysteinaemia, which can result in a number of problems, including cardiovascular disease.
For clarity on what T-homozygous means in the above context (because it confused me at first), the homo part of the word means “same/identical”. And the zygous part refers to the allele (a gene in a certain position). The “T” part refers to thymine, one of the four compounds that connect to the helixes that make up our DNA.
The one in particular to watch out for in your genetic report is 677TT, which has the worst enzyme activity, compared to the most common genotype 677CC. TT has 30% of the mean activity compared to CC individuals. Heterozygous individuals (CT) have a mean MTHFR activity of 65% compared to CC. (PubMed Source – unfortunately the abstract doesn’t include these figures, but I’ve checked, and the full text does).
If all this talk of MTFHR gene mutations has you curious, you can get your SNPs sequenced quickly and easily. Thus allowing you to access your genetic data. SNP sequencing costs as little as $79 from Ancestry. Or $99 from 23andMe. The main differences between the services will be the online interfaces which you use to collect your results + the version of the Illumina chip they’re using to sequence on.
23andMe also offer a $199 service, which provides health analysis on top of ancestry. But you don’t need this. With both their $99 and $199 packages you can export your SNPs, and run them through the promethease service for $5, which lets you drill easily into your relevant SNPs, and thus effectively access your health data even if you didn’t pay for that part of their service.
Rhonda Patrick also has a tool with which you can use to analyze your SNPs, located at foundmyfitness.com/genetics.
So that’s quite a lengthy list of supplements! And the somewhat frustrating thing is, nootropics aside, if you purchase them and take them, you may not notice any difference in how you feel.
As discussed in Rhonda’s interview with Bruce Ames, the body prioritizes micronutrients for survival and reproductive activities over using them for activities related to longevity. This means that micronutrient shortages over time can reduce our long term health. This is analogous to car maintenance. Short term, keeping a car well maintained may seem expensive, and over the top, but long term, the car will be running smoothly whilst other cars its age will be running into issues.
I think its important to remember that, the next time you pop your supplements, and don’t feel anything remarkable as a result. Its a long term strategy.
If you appreciate this post, remember of course that none of it would be possible without Rhonda Patrick’s hard work in understanding biological mechanisms, and explaining them to the wider world (us!). We can support her by donating to her Patreon campaign. This also frees her up to continue communicating all this great science to us, over at her website, FoundMyFitness.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:
- Rhonda Patrick’s Diet Details – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (article link)
- Rhonda Patrick’s Pregnancy + Baby Product Recommendations (article link)
- Best Sulforaphane Supplements for Nrf2 Activation – Containing Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase (article link)
- Tim Ferriss’ Preferred Nootropic Choices (article link)