About four years ago I shared my supplements list with a mildly- to un-interested world. Seems like a good time to do it again, since there's been some Big News in the non-prescription nostrums I take every day to keep disability, disease, and death at bay.
I've gone from 22 supplements to 19.
Gone are two algae oil sources of DHA and EPA, as I've replaced these with Ultimate Omega fish oil. Even though I'm a vegetarian, I decided that consuming fish oil was OK, karma-wise, since there doesn't seem to be an equally good non-animal source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Garlicin and gingko biloba bit the supplement dust. Vegetarian glucosamine was replaced by Celadrin, a joint health compound (that also contains some animal stuff) which has some decent research behind it. Pygeum and saw palmetto were dumped in favor of two prescription prostate-symptom-reducing drugs, dutasteride and tamsulosin (brand names: Avodart and Flomax; I take generics).
I added Super Zeaxanthin for eye health, and -- most recently -- Astragalus for telomere lengthening and general health promotion. Having telomeres that are as long as possible seems to be pretty important, according to anti-aging research cited in Scientific American.
Peter Pan stayed forever young in Neverland. In real life, some scientists are looking at telomeres, or regions of repetitive DNA at the ends of our chromosomes, to try to arrive at something like a real version of this story.
Telomeres consist of up to 3,300 repeats of the DNA sequence TTAGGG. They protect chromosome ends from being mistaken for broken pieces of DNA that would otherwise be fixed by cellular repair machinery. But every time our cells divide, the telomeres shrink. When they get short enough, our cells no longer divide and our body stops making those cells. Over time, this leads to aging and death.
Astragalus appears to slow down this process.
New York-based T.A. Sciences claims to be the only company in the world manufacturing a supplement in a pill form that has been lab tested and shown to stop telomeres from shortening, in hopes of halting the aging process. The product, TA-65, comes from extracts of the Chinese herb astragalus, which has been used for medicinal purposes for more than 1,000 years, says Noel Patton, chief executive officer of the company.
I'd take TA-65, but it's freaking expensive: $219 for 30 capsules, but it looks like the cost could be $1,000 a month for a higher dosage. I'd like my telomeres lengthened, yet not that much. And there's good reason to be skeptical of what T.A. Sciences is up to. So I bought some Solaray Astragalus for $6.54 per 100 capsules through Life Extension.
Hey, if I feel like my telomeres are longer, maybe they actually are. (Please compliment me on my pleasingly lengthy telomeres if you see me in person; that'll help with my placebo effect.) Dr. Oz is big on astragalus, for what that's worth.
By middle age you’re not only feeling exhausted; your cells are also starting to wear out. The reason? Shorter telomeres. Every time a cell divides, a little chunk of telomere gets spent. When you run out of telomeres, the cell stops replicating. My secret cell supercharger is astragalus, an herb that’s been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. New studies suggest that a compound in astragalus can affect telomere length in cells. I recommend taking up to 1,200 milligrams of astragalus with a glass of iced coffee or green tea. The caffeine in these drinks naturally boosts metabolism, helping you burn calories.
Here's my updated supplement list. Like I said before, "Do your own research. Make up your own mind."
Acetyl-L-carnitine 620 mg
Alpha lipoic acid 100 mg
Astragalus 400 mg
Aspirin 81 mg
Bilberry fruit extract 120 mg
Celadrin 1050 mg
Cold-FX 200 mg
Co-Q-10 60 mg
DHEA 25 mg
Fish oil 1000 mg ("Ultimate Omega")
Green tea extract 725 mg
Lutein 12 mg
Melatonin 1 mg
Multi-vitamin ("Doctor's Choice for 50-Plus Men")
Pomegranate extract 500 mg
Resveratrol 250 mg
Vitamin D 400 IU
Brian - you should email your pill list to Ray Kurzweil and see if he gives you his blessing. He may ask for a fee - after all, he needs money to buy all of his supplements, too (he is a multi-millionaire but that's not relevant).
Posted by: Willie R | December 31, 2011 at 08:03 AM
The obvious reason for taking supplements (I still take a few and, at times, have taken many, though never as many as your heroic list) is that our food doesn't provide the nutrition necessary to maintain good health. There is a movement in cutting edge gardening circles to remineralize the soil so that our food can provide the nutrition we need to keep us healthy. Well-known garden gurus like Steve Solomon are involved in this movement and Solomon is, in fact, writing a book on the subject which will come out next year. Solomon testifies to eating less and feeling fuller. Soilminerals.com is a website that explains this in more detail. Taking all these natural supplements is beginning to me to seem unnatural.
Posted by: Randy | December 31, 2011 at 02:09 PM
I have done more than my share of study on diet and nutrition. Like spirituality, I have found that the more I study about it, the less I know.
I tend to agree with Randy, it may be unnatural to overdo it with supplements. It seems every month there is a new super anti-oxidant or superfood being hyped and for the most part I think that is what it is... hype. We all have to earn a living you know.
Can we get too many anti-oxidants?....
I am not against supplements. I take some myself for general health and specific issues I have. For example, I frequently have tinnitus, ringing in the ears, from noise exposure and possibly genetics or just getting older. So, currently I am taking pycnogenol, a french maritime pine bark extract that has been researched pretty thoroughly and has a long history of use. A double blind study showed decreased tinnitus perception in a majority of study participants who took pycnogenol vs the placebo group.
I can see from Brian's supplement list that he is concerned with heart/vascular health either due to family history or a current medical condition or test results. He may not have a condition but it looks like he is concerned about the issue. What he is doing beats taking statin drugs any day.
What concerns me is the synergystic effect of piling on supplements thus creating a virtual "stew" of substances in our bodies. Do we know the effect of the interactions of all these potent substances when combined together? One multi-vitamin I saw recently had about 50 different herbs and bio-active agents in addition to the vitamins and minerals it contained. Is it possible that many goodies all at once could actually be bad for us? I don't think anyone knows. Being too well nourished may actually encourage some cancers.
So, I tend to just eat nutritious whole foods in sufficient variety as seasonal availability and quality permit. I try not to overeat and to eat only when truly hungry which is difficult when you have a wife who loves to cook and is very good at it. I am not into fasting, but I think it is beneficial to frequently be hungry for short periods of time. Helps to keep your insulin metabolism healthy and to stay lean, obviously. I exercise moderately and leave the rest to nature, destiny, Allah, genetics, chance, karma or whatever you feel is in charge.
Let's face it. We might like to avoid it and postpone it as long as possible with supplements, but the day will come no matter what we do when death will "tap us on the shoulder."
But who knows, maybe a little astragalus can buy an extra year or three.
I ain't knockin' it.
Posted by: tucson | January 01, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Have you had any blood work done to determine current Vitamin D status? Seems like 400 IU Vitamin D3 is quite low - especially given winter conditions in Oregon.
I try to go about 5 hours between meals most days - no snacking - helps to exercise the liver and keep insulin levels balanced.
BTW, you may enjoy Mastering Leptin by Byron Richards - great book!
Posted by: Bob | January 04, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Bob, in 2010 my vitamin D level was 38. I guess that's at the low end of normal. Can't remember if I was taking the 400 IU supplement at that time. I also get 800 IU in a multivitamin, and I drink soy milk with D added. So I'm getting over 1200 IU from non-food sources, plus whatever additional I get from food. That seems enough to me.
Posted by: Brian Hines | January 05, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Here is a good website on Vitamin D.
Posted by: Bob | January 05, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Thanks. I did read a book about six years years back on leptin by a Dr. Rosedale.
I learned it was an important puzzle piece few Dr's take into consideration and few in the public have ever heard of.
I sometimes go for most of the day on little food (after a good breakfast) but I drink a lot of tea. Right now I'm into a mate' herbal mix from Argentina called "Cachamate". I make it real strong but it doesn't give you a buzz like coffee, rather a slow steady energy that seems to keep you going.
S. American Indians have used mate' this way for many centuries.
Posted by: tucson | January 05, 2012 at 10:00 PM
benefits of red wine exaggerated:
Posted by: tucson | January 12, 2012 at 09:27 AM
tucson, yes, but red wine likely still is beneficial. And I like it regardless. See:
Some resveratrol researchers were not concerned by the fraud allegations and still believe the compound can improve longevity.
"I don't expect this news to have a big impact on what we work on," Dr. David Sinclair, a resveratrol researcher at the Harvard Medical School, told CBS News in an email. Sinclair had been featured in the 2009 60 Minutes report. Sinclair said his research focuses on sirtuins and aging, while a lot of the published research papers in question focused on heart health.
"There is a comprehensive body of literature in mouse and rats indicating that resveratrol is effective in preventing numerous diseases in those animals, including type II diabetes, neurodegeneration, fatty liver, and inflammation, Sinclair said. "These results would not be in question, even if some of his work is retracted."
Posted by: Brian Hines | January 12, 2012 at 09:35 AM
I'm still taking Astragalus, but my wife discovered a side effect: her lip began to peel after she started to use Astragalus. When she stopped, the peeling went away. Here's another report of the same peeling problem:
Posted by: Brian Hines | February 02, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Bump the D3 up to 5000 iu per day. The astragals.. you need to make your own powerful tincture .. 1/2 lb per 750 ml Everclear ..let soak for 3 weeks. Take 1 oz every other day one week on/one week off. Take reishi mushroom tea.. 1oz boiled 5 hours every other day..Start taking 1500 mg per day carnosine.. take a week off once a month. Best of luck m8
Posted by: opaque | November 28, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Hi Brian,I'm calling from England. I got as far as Washington State but never made it to Oregon much to my regret!I was talking to a Washingtonian in a bar in Tacoma who said that Oregon was Gods own Country, so I guess it must be nice? I never caught sight of bigfoot in Washington State so I might have had more luck in Oregon. I actually E-mailed about your food supplements comments. I am 72 and have taken supplements since I started weight training when I was 15.I still compete in drug free power lifting and I am still completely pain free. Over the years I have kept up with the research and take as wide a spectrum as a poor person on a state pension can afford. I have been practising Chi Kung as taught by Mantak chia in his books and find it really is the dog's bollocks ,as we say in the UK ! I would heartily recommend his books to you all. I had developed a nasty case of Panic attacks etc from being too long on the Oil rigs and the ONLY thing that totally cured it was Chi Kung. I would like to say HI to all you guys in the US of A and please believe me when I say that the greatest allies and friends of America are the much maligned Brits. The working people of the UK LOVE America and vastly prefer you all to the left wing European Union pooftahs! I hope I will be allowed to talk to you guys again if Brian will allow it. David
Posted by: David holloway | February 28, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Hi. I recommend shia seeds. Its FULL of Omega 3 :) Much better than fish oil.
Greetings from Norway.
Posted by: mariane | September 13, 2015 at 11:09 AM
I think astragalus is one of the better adaptogens, along with Rhodiola Rosea for most people. Then again it's a highly personal thing using any supplement really, so as always test slowly and titrate up as you go
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