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:
- Multivitamins – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E
- B-Complex – Swanson Ultra Activated B-Complex
- Vitamin D – Swanson Higher Potency Vitamin D-3 2,000iu
- Vitamin K2 – Swanson Ultra Natural Vitamin K2 with MK7 from Natto
- Fish Oil – Nordic Naturals EPA Xtra
- Krill Oil – NOW Neptune Krill Oil 1000mg
- Magnesium – Thorne Research – Magnesium Citrate
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 – VSL #3 Probiotic
- Collagen – Great Lakes Gelatin Collagen
- Nicotinamide Riboside – Thorne Research – NiaCel
- Natural Painkiller/Ibuprofin Alternative – Meriva (curcumin phytosome) – Thorne Research – Meriva
Further foods Rhonda has recommended:
- Beet Powder – Activz Organic <- For blood pressure
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Amphora Nueva: Berkeley Olive Oil Works
View the full list on Amazon here.
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)
According to her blog she takes Pure Encapsulations multivitamins blend. She chooses it because of the ratios of the vitamins and minerals in it. 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, CoQ, Boron etc).
Rhonda previously took an ‘activated’ B-Complex produced by Swanson Ultra (see this tweet), in addition to the B vitamins contained in her multivitamin ONE. 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.
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. Other supplements 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.
Rhonda Patrick also has a tool with which you can use to analyze your SNPs, located at foundmyfitness.com/genetics.
Rhonda emphasises in her video on Vitamin D that its important to take it at the right dose. In an excellent infographic, posted on her blog, she suggests 4000IU of daily supplementation is enough to bring people that were previously deficient up to 30ng/ml, without toxicity. Her target range is 40 – 60 ng/ml. To achieve this tight range, vitamin D blood testing is a necessity.
Rhonda’s preferred multivitamin supplement (Pure Encapsulations ONE) contains 2,000IU of vitamin D3. So then she often supplements with an additional 2,000IU of D3, because she doesn’t get much sunlight (which our bodies can use to produce vitamin D). She has mentioned previously taking Swanson’s D3 supplement and NOW D3 supplement (both 2,000IU).
Rhonda highly recommends people test their Vitamin D levels.
- To ascertain you’re not deficient in Vitamin D
- To understand the impact that supplementation is having (or not having).
Manifestations of Vitamin D toxicity, from overdosing, 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!
Swanson’s K2 supplement, which derives its MK7 from Natto, is Rhonda’s go to choice. There are two popular forms of vitamin K2 commercially available. These are MK4 and MK7. MK7 is produced by bacterial fermentation of soy, and 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).
According to Twitter, Rhonda takes the Nordic Naturals – EPA Xtra fish oil supplement. Its purified, lemon flavoured fish oil that comes from anchovies and sardines. Each serving of 2 soft gels contain 1060mg EPA and 300mg DHA.
Rhonda takes NOW Neptune Krill Oil 1000mg. The benefit of taking the Krill oil on top of the EPA is that it has DHA Phosphatidylserine. Which is a vital phospholipid component of brain and nerve cell membranes.
Previously Rhonda has spoken about taking calcium and magnesium in a 2 to 1 ratio. Specifically Swanson’s formulation with 600mg of Calcium and 300mg of Magnesium.
Most recently, on her podcast with Tim Ferriss, she also discussed taking magnesium citrate by Thorne. This is actually a different form of magnesium, compared to the Swanson formulation above, which uses magnesium oxide. 90 caps at 135mg per cap.
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.
To achieve a dose similar to Rhonda’s 600mg, you’d need 2x caps of Jarrow’s Alpha GPC.
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. She takes 2x 1.5g packs of Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixir in a session.
Sulforaphane is heavily touted for its potential life extension properties. 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 and once every 2 weeks. And then relies on her diet for enough fibre and nutritional diversity to maintain a healthy gut. The probiotic she takes is one called VSL #3, which actually gets shipped with a cold pack, to preserve the active probiotic ingredients.
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. Taking directly from the post, 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 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.
This recommendation comes via Rhonda’s Instagram post on olive oil. She talks about a study which showed around half the “extra virgin” olive oils on the market may actually be adulterated with cheaper, lower quality oils.
Because olive oil has so many health benefits, this is a concern. According to Rhonda:
“A recent study found that extra-virgin olive oil protects nerve cell structure and function, improves learning memory and reduces the amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain in mice genetically engineered to get Alzheimer’s disease.The polyphenols in olive oil activate autophagy, which leads to the clearance of plaques and tangles in the brain.”
As a result, she gets her olive oil from a company called Amphora Nueva: Berkeley Olive Oil Works. They are unusual in that they analyze all of their oils for polyphenol content, oxidized lipids, etc. and list the data on their website.
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.