Let’s begin with a high-level overview of Dr Rhonda Patrick’s supplement list. This list is up to date as of September 2019, and uses the latest information from Rhonda’s Twitter, podcasts, videos and exclusive Patreon subscriber content.
Dr Rhonda Patrick’s Daily Supplements
- Multivitamin – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E – 1 capsule/daily
- Vitamin D3 – Thorne Research – D3 (1,000iu) – 2 capsules/daily
- Vitamin K2 – Thorne Research K2/D3 Drops – 1 drop/every 2-3 days
- Fish Oil – Norwegian PURE-3 DHA – 6 capsules/daily
- Omega-3 Phospholipids – recently Wild Salmon Roe Caviar, previously Nordic Naturals Phospholipids – 4 capsules/daily
- Magnesium – Thorne Research – Magnesium Citramate – 1 capsule/daily
Additional Supplements Rhonda Uses:
- Nicotinamide Riboside – Thorne Research – NiaCel – For improved cellular mitochondrial function
- PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) – Life Extension – PQQ 20mg – For temporary boost in cognitive function
- Curcumin Phytosome – Thorne Research – Meriva SF – As a natural anti-inflammatory, alternative to ibuprofen
- Probiotics – Visbiome Probiotic sachets – Taken intermittently to top up healthy gut bacteria
- Hyrolyzed Collagen – Great Lakes – For improved joint and skin health
Rhonda’s Preferred Nootropics:
- Choline – Alpha GPC – NOW – Alpha GPC 300mg – Taken for public speaking events or podcasts to increase mental acuity
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir – Taken specifically for intense periods of work
- Sulforaphane – From self-grown broccoli sprouts, or when time constrained, Nutramax Avmacol
- Beet Powder – Activz Organic – Rhonda has recommended to her family members with high blood pressure
- Wild Salmon Roe Caviar – from Vital Choice – Natural source of EPA & DHA phospholipids
- Methylated B Vitamins – Swanson’s B Complex – Rhonda has recommended to family with C677TT/677CT MTHFR mutations
- Melatonin – Life Extension 300mcg – for those 50+, or with trouble sleeping
Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
- See this section below for more information
- 1 Rhonda’s Base Supplement List (Details)
- 2 Additional supplements Rhonda uses
- 3 Rhonda’s Preferred Nootropics
- 4 Additional Suggestions
- 5 Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
- 6 Multivitamin
- 7 Rhonda’s Method for Choosing Supplement Brands
- 8 Closing Remarks
Rhonda’s Base Supplement List (Details)
Rhonda takes Pure Encapsulations O.N.E multivitamin daily, which contains a broad spectrum of essential micronutrients. It has adequate doses of the essential micronutrients, in highly bioavailable forms.
For those aware they have the MTHFR mutation which reduces folic acid absorption, O.N.E contains methyl folate instead of folic acid.
Rhonda knows the importance of consuming adequate amounts of essential micronutrients, and thus has chosen a supplement that ticks as many of those boxes as possible. The only essential micronutrients it doesn’t contain (and isn’t covered in her additional supplements) are calcium, iron & copper; which Rhonda aims to get from her diet.
Pure Encapsulations O.N.E comes in 2 sizes, 60 capsules and 120 capsules.
Dosage: 1 capsule/daily
N.B. For those outside the USA, where Pure Encapsulations O.N.E is sometimes hard to obtain, see this section on comparable alternative multivitamins.
Rhonda views vitamin D intake as incredibly important to staying happy and healthy. Vitamin D plays a key role in serotonin regulation, which in turn regulates things like executive function, sensory gating, and social behaviour (see this paper for more details).
It’s not only negative to get too little vitamin D, it’s also negative to get too much. This is ignored by many supplement companies who liberally promote 5,000IU+ supplements. It’s hard to say exactly how much each person should supplement, because it depends on factors like diet, sun exposure and body composition. To get an accurate reading it’s necessary to get a blood test, which is the same way Rhonda checks hers.
Rhonda calibrates her vitamin D dosage by aiming to maintain 40 – 60ng/ml blood concentration. To achieve this, she suggests 4,000IU of daily supplementation, which she says should be enough to bring people who are deficient up to 30ng/ml safely (source: Rhonda’s vitamin D infographic).
Rhonda’s preferred vitamin D3 source is Thorne Research D-1000. This comes in 1,000IU capsules, which allows for fine tuning total dosage.
Rhonda takes 4,000iu of vitamin D3 daily (on average). She takes 2,000IU of D3 via her multivitamin supplement (above), and then adds 2,000IU of Thorne D-1000, to make a total of 4,000IU.
Dosage: 2 capsules/daily
Vitamin K is required by the body to create proteins that are pre-requisites to blood coagulation (useful!), and it’s used in efficient calcium transport for bones and other tissues.
Rhonda supplements K2, despite already getting significant amounts of K1 through her consumption of leafy green vegetables.
When Rhonda supplements K2, its her insurance policy in case the K1 she consumes isn’t doing enough. The main worry with insufficient vitamin K consumption, is that it causes inadequate calcium transport, and thus deposits of calcium end up in the arteries. Later on this could result in higher blood pressure and risk of stroke.
In terms of supplementing K2, there are two key forms; MK4 & MK7. MK7 has a longer half-life, but MK4 is more studied.
Rhonda uses Thorne Research’s – K2/D3 liquid drops. Each drop contains 100mcg of K2 MK4 and 500iu of D3. This doesn’t replace her D3 supplementation, which she likes to keep at around 4,000iu per day. I say “around”, because she tests her blood levels of D3 and adjusts dosage based on the results.
Previously when she was taking NOW Vitamin’s K2-MK7, containing 100mcg per capsule, she was using it every 2-3 days. I would imagine that she is now using 1 drop of Thorne’s K2 every 2-3 days also (in her below update she didn’t mention frequency, only dosage).
Rhonda discussed switching to Thorne on her FoundMyFitness discussion board:
Dosage: 1 drop/every 2-3 days
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Omega-3 oils, EPA & DHA, are essential fatty acids. Specifically, they are incorporated into cell membranes all over the body, but are particularly concentrated in the brain and eyes (retina). They are also vital to processes that mediate lipids, which can be beneficial in the prevention of several diseases. Additionally, they are essential for proper fetal development and heathy ageing. Read more on their role here.
Rhonda currently takes an omega-3 supplement called Norwegian PURE-3, which is touted as being both extremely high quality, and having very low levels of oxidation. Specifically, Rhonda uses the high DHA version they sell (pink packaging). See this section of her Crowdcast where she mentions it.
Norwegian PURE-3 is currently only available direct from the manufacturer, who offer international shipping from their base in Norway. However, Rhonda suggests they will be on Amazon.com soon.
Dosage: 6 capsules/daily of Norwegian Pure-3 DHA
Prior to this product, Rhonda was taking fish oil from Nordic Naturals called ProOmega 2000. Nordic Naturals make high quality omega-3s, and are somewhat easier to get hold of on retail channels like Amazon.com.
See her 2017 tweet below where she mentions Nordic Naturals ProOmega 2000 (the tweet image links to the full tweet URL):
Krill Oil / Omega-3 Phospholipids
Previously Rhonda was supplementing Omega-3 phospholipids in addition to her regular Omega-3 supplementation. Specifically Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Phospholipids.
Side note – I take the Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Phospholipids as part of my supplement stack, and its worth noting, they’re really “strong” tasting – stronger than regular fish oil. You definitely want to throw them down with a substantial meal, don’t try them on an empty stomach!
Dosage: 4 capsules/daily of Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Phospholipids
Rhonda currently gets her omega-3 phospholipids via wild salmon roe caviar, rather than using supplements. She bulk buys her caviar from Vital Choice, who offer it in 2.2lbs packages that can be frozen, and then thawed for use one quarter at a time. She consumes this in addition to her regular omega-3 supplementation.
Prior to the Nordic Naturals, Rhonda was taking her omega-3 phospholipids via NOW Neptune Krill Oil 1000:
Magnesium can be found concentrated in leafy green vegetables (it actually composes part of the chlorophyll molecule). So, if you see dark green vegetables, you know you’ll be getting some of the bound-up magnesium from it. Despite this, approximately 1/2 the US population are thought to be deficient in it.
Rhonda supplements with Thorne’s Magnesium Citramate supplement; this contains a blend of magnesium citrate and magnesium malt. The combination helps increase absorption.
Dosage: 1 capsule/daily
Additional supplements Rhonda uses
Nicotinamide Riboside (NR) is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD+ is a key co-enzyme used by the mitochondria in every cell of our bodies. With aging our NAD+ levels unfortunately drop. The intention is that by supplementing NR (a precursor to NAD+) we can in turn increase NAD+, and make muscles, organs and tissues perform closer to younger versions of themselves.
Rhonda talked about this supplement in the Tim Ferriss podcast titled “Exploring Smart Drugs, Fasting, and Fat Loss”. Where she said (transcript source):
“ I mix in some other supplements like the meriva formulation of curcumin, which I already talked about earlier, and I am just starting to mix in a little nicotinamide riboside into the mix.
I’m afraid that the supplement I’m taking right now, which is by Thorne and only has 125 mg per capsule, won’t quite cut it to meet some of the robust results being seen in animal studies. I think there is potential here but more studies in humans definitely need to be done at this point. Still interested though. ”
Rhonda previously discussed taking Thorne NiaCel, containing 125mg of nicotinamide riboside chloride, produced by Chromadex. However Thorne have recently discontinued this product, possibly because it was hard to compete with Chromadex’s own product; Niagen, which contains 300mg per serving as standard. On the plus side, NiaCel customers can switch to Niagen, and know it contains the same core ingredient.
Whilst pregnant Rhonda actually stopped taking any non-essential supplements (including Nicotinamide Riboside) that could pose even the slightest risk to her child. But she said in her March Patreon Q&A that she will carry on experimenting with nicotinamide riboside once she finishes breastfeeding.
Dosage: 1 capsule/daily
PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone)
On a recent Q&A webinar for her Patreon subscribers, Rhonda mentioned that she had started taking PQQ.
In a paper published in 2016 (link), Japanese researchers found that PQQ improves cognitive function (measured using the stroop test), by increasing blood flow and oxygen metabolism to the right prefrontal cortex. Which in theory is exciting, especially as PQQ is naturally produced by the body, thus you’re not introducing a foreign substance to it. However when I dug into the research on PQQ, the evidence for its effectiveness seemed borderline inaccurate, and it definitely needs more study. I’ve summarised my analysis of PQQ in this post.
Rhonda takes 1 capsule daily(20mg per serving) of Life Extension- PQQ Caps with BioPQQ. BioPQQ is the PQQ disodium salt that was used in the above study.
Dosage: 1 capsule/daily
Meriva (Curcumin Phytosome)
Rhonda uses Meriva as an anti-inflammatory, in the same way that someone might use Ibuprofen or other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Whilst ibuprofen is very effective, the goal with using Meriva is to be able to use it on a long-term basis without risk of side effects.
Meriva is derived from the turmeric root, which contains a natural anti-inflammatory in its pigment called curcumin. Tangentially, it’s actually curcumin that gives curries their yellow coloring. To produce Meriva the curcumin gets extracted and concentrated, then combined with phosphatidylcholine complex from sunflower seeds. By packaging the curcumin in a phospholipid its possible to increase its absorption within the body.
The way in which curcumin extract (Meriva) reduces inflammation is really clever. Inflammation itself is not a bad thing, in fact its an incredibly important survival mechanism that helps our bodies fight illness and heal injuries. However if there’s too much inflammation, or inflammation in the wrong places we have a problem.
Proteins within our body called cytokines control cell signalling to stimulate or reduce inflammation. When this system has issues regulating itself correctly, this results in unnecessary inflammation of the body. Curcumin has been shown to reduce release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (source).
Rhonda’s go to supplement brand is Thorne, and their Meriva-SF formulation is 250mg per pill (serving of 2 capsules, so 500mg total). They also have a higher strength version called Meriva-500-SF (500mg per pill, 1g per serving).
Rhonda also likes to utilize turmeric in its organic form for her smoothies.
A recent randomized controlled trial showed that a bioavailable form of curcumin improved memory in older people with mild memory complaints. The curcumin group had a 28% improvement in their memory/attention abilities and fewer amyloid plaques and tau tangles in the brain, compared to the placebo. The latter (amyloid plaques and tau tangles) affect optimal brain function, and are hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial showed antidepressive effects in patients with major depression1
The bioavailability of curcumin can be increased with the addition of fat and a component of black pepper called piperine. For fat sources, Rhonda adds avocado to her smoothies that have turmeric (see her Instagram post on this).
For more on turmeric/curcumin & Rhonda Patrick, see my separate post.
Rhonda is keenly aware of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome. At the time of writing, Rhonda takes Visbiome probiotics sachets every 1-2 weeks to top up on healthy gut bacteria. The rest of the time she relies on her diet to meet those needs.
Last year Rhonda had a baby boy, and began breastfeeding. During this process she was taking Visbiome sachets once daily. This move was based on research from a study that showed mothers who supplement with the probiotic Visbiome during late pregnancy and while nursing, had lowered inflammatory biomarkers in their breast milk. It also improved symptoms of colic in their newborns2.
Visbiome comes in sachet and pill form. Rhonda opts for the sachets which contain 4x as many live bacteria.
Dosage: 1 sachet/Every 1-2 weeks
Visbiome vs VSL#3
Before switching over to Visbiome, Rhonda was taking VSL #3 probiotic, which had been the subject of over 25 publishes studies, showing efficacy in IBS, IBD, colitis and c. diff. However, it turns out the new formulation of VSL #3 differs significantly from the old one3, and thus should be treated with caution at minimum, and at maximum, avoided. I mention this section because for some people Visbiome is hard to get hold of, and up until now, it was thought VSL #3 was a satisfactory alternative. Below summarizes the details:
VSL #3 was originally created by Professor Claudio De Simone, and produced by VSL Inc. All the clinical studies before 2016 were performed on the “original formula” of VSL#3. However, when Di Simone parted ways with VSL Inc. in 2016, manufacturing was switched from USA to Italy and the formulation was changed. Between 2016 and 2019, VSL Inc. claimed that the beneficial effects of the formula remained the same. However in a federal lawsuit that concluded in 2019, VSL Inc. were found liable for false advertising related to the composition and clinical history of the new VSL #3 formula. This was in part backed up by a study4 performed by De Simone, showing that the new VSL#3 formula was materially different to the old one.
For those looking for the benefits of the original VSL# 3 formula, this continues to exist under the Visbiome brand.
Rhonda has been using hydrolyzed collagen powder for a couple of years to help her joints. She consumes it by adding to smoothies and hot beverages.
Her original interest was inspired by a study that showed peptides in hydrolysed collagen actually make it intact to cartilage, which suggests its beneficial for joint health (source).
More recently, Rhonda’s interest was piqued by another study showing that in 26 healthy females who displayed visible signs of natural and photoaging in the face, daily supplementation with 1 gram of hydrolyzed collagen powder for 12 weeks led to a 76% reduction of skin dryness/scaling and a 13% decrease in global lines and wrinkles. Additionally, an 18% increase in the content of hemoglobin was found in the skin dermis suggesting improved microcirculation (study source).
Rhonda’s Preferred Nootropics
In a May 2017 podcast episode with Tim Ferriss, Rhonda discussed the 3 different nootropics that she uses and approves of. Nootropics are a category of drugs to enhance cognitive performance; aspects such as concentration, memory and mental alertness.
Rhonda’s approach when evaluating nootropic safety is:
- Avoid compounds that inhibit enzymes in the brain
- Avoid compounds that humans didn’t evolve alongside, because they haven’t been around long enough to fully understand their side effects
This makes the below list very “safe”.
Choline – Alpha GPC
Rhonda takes a Choline supplement on rare occasions when she is doing a lot of writing, or there’s an event she is speaking at. She finds it improves her focus and attention.
Rhonda also makes a point of including natural sources of choline in her diet, such as eggs, almonds, spinach, broccoli and chicken.
There are different forms of choline that can be supplemented, and Rhonda chooses Alpha GPC because it is quick to cross the blood-brain barrier. She takes 600mg, noting that 300mg didn’t appear to be enough to make a difference.
Dosage: 2 capsules of NOW – Alpha GPC 300mg
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
The Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) is generally consumed for its cognitive benefits. A study (source) showed that it can increase nerve growth factor, which is involved primarily in the growth, maintenance, proliferation, and survival of neurons.
Another study (source) showed that it improved cognitive impairment in a placebo controlled group of 30 adults aged 50-80. They consumed 3g per day of Lion’s Mane powder for 16 weeks. At weeks 8, 12 & 16 they showed significantly increased scores on the cognitive function scale compared with the placebo group. Four weeks after stopping the Lion’s Mane supplementation their scores decreased significantly.
Rhonda was using Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane tea for intense periods of writing and creative work up until she got pregnant in 2017. At which point she stopped all non-essential supplementation, including Lion’s Mane, in order to minimize any risk to her baby.
On her August 2018 crowdcast, Rhonda mentioned she hasn’t yet gone back to Lion’s Mane, due to concern over heavy metals, which mushrooms are good at absorbing from soil. She plans to look into it more in the future and check lab tests.
Off the back of her comment, I did look briefly into Four Sigmatic’s testing, and it appears they do indeed test for heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) + other toxins & chemicals (source). They apparently used to provide lab reports on request, but have stopped doing so since having multiple batches live for sale at any one time, such that the report they send may not apply exactly to the batch you have. That said, they guarantee to have < 1 PPM of arsenic, < 0.1 PPM of Cadmium, <1 PPM of lead and < 0.05 PPM of Mercury.
Dosage: 1x 3g pack of Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixir
Sulforaphane – From Self Grown Broccoli Sprouts
There’s two things to talk about here, the first is regarding sulforaphane; what it is and why Rhonda ensures she gets a lot of it. The second thing to discuss is how to get sulforaphane, whether you’re self-growing broccoli sprouts, or you’re taking a supplement.
The What & Why of Sulforaphane
Plants contain chemicals which are used for their self-defence (phytochemicals). Generally, the plants evolved these chemicals to be toxic to organisms smaller than humans (for example pathogens). Thus, what may be toxic to a pathogen, has a lesser effect on a human. Ingested in small amounts, some of these phytonutrients exhibit positive effects in humans. But if you consume them at high amounts; they become toxic. This is referred to as hormesis, or, the hormetic effect – and is illustrated by the image below:
Bringing this back to sulforaphane, which is a product of a chemical reaction between glucoraphanin and myrocinase, the glucoraphanin itself is a plant-based phytonutrient that triggers a positive hormetic affect in humans.
Specifically, ingested sulforaphane activates what’s called the NRF2 pathway, which increases expression of a battery of cell protective genes, that regulate things like:
- Glutathione (GSH) – Essential in function of Glutathione peroxidase and GST for redox balance and detoxification.
- Haemoxygenase-1 (HO-1) – Redox-regulating, broad protection against oxidative stress. Anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties.
- Quinone reductase (NQO1) – A multifunctional redox-regulating and detoxifying enzyme, including protection against oestrogen quinone metabolites. Stabilises the p53 tumor suppressor protein.
- Metallothionein – Removal of heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.
- Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor – Regulator of adipogenesis and central integrator of glucose metabolism, energy homeostasis and skeletal metabolism.
And that’s just a snapshot, NRF2 affects even more. This information comes via an incredible paper by Christine Houghton et al. (source) – which is highly worth reading.
As a result, sulforaphane is under continued study for its potential role in life extension, cancer prevention and more. To learn more about Sulforaphane, see Rhonda’s highly detailed video on the subject.
Getting Sulforaphane via Self Grown Broccoli Sprouts
Rhonda opts to get her sulforaphane primarily through self-grown broccoli sprouts, using the Avmacol supplement as a fall-back when she doesn’t have time to grow broccoli sprouts. Sprouts are really easy to grow with a bit of initiative. To emulate Rhonda’s exact broccoli sprout growing setup you’ll want:
- Ball Mason jars – specifically quart size, wide mouth
- Sprouter lids – wide mouth to fit the Ball jars
- Organic broccoli sprout seeds – a good example being Sprout House Organic Non-GMO**
**Its been pointed out in the comments that a number of broccoli seed retailers are, in fact, selling “Rapini/Raab/Rabe” seeds – marketed as regular broccoli speeds. They’re actually a different family of brassicas than broccoli – despite looking vaguely similar when fully grown. Until research says otherwise, we don’t know if they contain sulforaphane, so is worth watching out for (to avoid) when buying seeds. The sprout house seeds linked above, according to the seller, are “usually the cultivar Calabrese” (link) – which is a regular broccoli type that will contain sulforaphane. Out of curiousity I bought both seed types, in case it was possible to visually tell the difference between the unsprouted seeds (it’s very hard) – you can view the pictures here.
See her IG post for the size of mason jars she uses, and see her video on heating sprouts for brand of jars. She was previously running 6 jars in rotation, freezing them in ziplocks as soon as they’re ready. However, more recently (mentioned in her August 2018 crowdcast) she has stopped freezing them, instead opting to put them in the fridge post-harvest. This is because (for unknown reasons) her and her partner Dan were finding they had stomach distress on the sprouts consumed from frozen, compared to if they consumed them fresh.
Rhonda harvests every 3 days, based on research from Jed Fahey, suggesting the sprouts contain more glucoraphanin whilst young.
Rhonda suggests that the best data we have on dosage comes from the clinical trials done. She references these 3 in her sulforaphane video:
- 60mg sulforaphane tablets (= 140g fresh broccoli sprouts) – Study showed sulforaphane slowed the doubling rate of a cancer biomarker (known as prostate specific antigen or PSA) by 86%
- 40mg sulforaphane sprout powder (= 100g fresh broccoli sprouts) – Study showed sulforaphane lowered serum triglycerides by 18% and lower oxidized LDL ratio by 13%. Overall, this reduced the trial participants atherogenic index by 50%.
- 40mg sulforaphane sprout powder (= 100g fresh broccoli sprouts) – Study showed sulforaphane reduced inflammation in type 2 diabetics: TNF-alpha by 11%, CRP by 16%.
These studies suggest you want to aim for between 40mg & 60mg sulforaphane (100g to 140g fresh weight sprouts) if you want to emulate their results. This is based on the approximation that 1 gram of fresh weight sprouts is equivalent to 0.425mg of sulforaphane.
To put this into perspective, the quart size Ball mason jars Rhonda uses yield approximately 280g fresh weight per jar when full – which brings 1 jar close to 120mg sulforaphane content.
Rhonda said (on her last Tim Ferriss podcast) she consumes up to 4 ounces (113g) of broccoli sprouts a few times per week.
In terms of consuming them, you’ll probably want to emulate Rhonda, who adds the sprouts to smoothies and blends them in her Blendtec – to mask the taste with other flavors. You want to avoid juicing, as this will discard the pre-biotic fiber that is beneficial to our gut microbiome.
Increasing Broccoli Sprouts Bioavailability
Rhonda had previously created a video on tripling the bioavailability of sulforaphane in the sprouts via heating. However, after discussing the process with John Hopkins researchers Jed Fahey, she has since stopped it – based on Jed suggesting that this is not necessarily. This also avoids the risk of overheating the sprouts, and therefore disabling the myrocinase enzyme – which would be sub-optimal.
Whilst the ultimate low-cost alternative to high end sulforaphane supplements is sprouting your own (see above), often this can be inconvenient. It takes time, preparation, and isn’t always possible when travelling or busy with work. Currently Rhonda is a young mother, still nursing her child, and as a result of time constraints she is taking Avmacol, rather than growing her own sprouts. However, in the long run she plans to go back to growing sprouts.
Below we’ll look at the best sulforaphane supplements on the market.
Jed Fahey of John Hopkins University, one of the leading researchers in sulforaphane/NRF2, warns us to be careful of which supplement we use. His lab, which has analyzed dozens of supplements over the years, has found that many are terrible, and don’t contain what they say they do. For more info on Jed, see Rhonda’s interview with him.
To complicate matters, there are 3 main ways to consume sulforaphane:
- Pure Sulforaphane – Average bioavailability of 70%*
- Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase – Average bioavailability of 35%*
- Glucoraphanin only – Average bioavailability of 10%*
* Bioavailability numbers come from Jed Fahey’s research at John Hopkins (source).
Below is a list of the sulforaphane supplements tested and used by Jed Fahey’s team at John Hopkins University in their clinical studies:
A French manufacturer called Nutrinov currently makes the only free-form stabilized sulforaphane supplement on the market; Prostaphane. So far it’s only available in France. Rather than containing sulforaphane glucosinolate like most sulforaphane products, it contains a free-form stabilized version of sulforaphane. They market it to help with an aging prostate, but as it’s pure sulforaphane, it has many other benefits.
For those outside of France, the best alternative is a product by Nutramax Laboratories called Avmacol. It contains the glucoraphanin (sulforaphane glucosinolate) extracted from broccoli seeds, alongside the activation enzyme myrocinase. Adding the myrocinase makes the glucoraphanin more bioavailable than without it.
The last sulforaphane supplement that has been tested by Jed Fahey and his team is Thorne’s Crucera-SGS. This contains glucoraphanin (sulforaphane glucosinolate, or SGS), but doesn’t contain the additional myrocinase enzyme. Interestingly, our guts do contain bacteria that convert glucoraphanin into sulforaphane. The amounts vary from person to person, and aren’t as optimal as consuming active myrocinase.
- The 3 supplements above have been tested and used in clinical trials by John Hopkins University – so we can trust they contain what they say, unlike many other broccoli sprout supplements that are ineffective.
- The most bioavailable supplement is Prostaphane, but this is only distributed in France.
- The next most bioavailable product is Avmacol, which is available in the USA.
Another benefit of using Avmacol over home grown sprouts is for situations where risk of infection must be minimized – including pregnant mothers and those with compromised immune systems. Home grown sprouts run the risk of bacterial contamination, if they’re not kept completely sterile, whereas sprouts processed into Avmacol do not carry this risk.
Whilst Rhonda doesn’t supplement beet powder herself, she did use it successfully to lower her mother and mother-in-law’s blood pressure, and thus avoid them getting on blood pressure medication (see Rhonda’s Instagram post on this topic for more info).
Additionally, 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. Beets are apparently 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).
The Activz Organic Beet Powder Rhonda used for her family has the equivalent of 1 cup of beet juice per 9 gram scoop (~3 teaspoons). Her Mum was taking 9g per day for 2 weeks before she got her blood pressure re-tested.
Wild Salmon Roe Caviar
Rhonda is a big fan of wild salmon roe caviar, which is a potent source of omega-3 phospholipids (~438 mg of EPA and ~514 mg of DHA per ounce).
Omega-3 phospholipids are great for a few reasons. Firstly, they are readily absorbed by the brain via the mfsd2a transporter. Secondly they contain astaxanthin, which protects the omega-3s from oxidation, and does the same for neurons.
See this post and this post on Instagram for Rhonda talking more about caviar. Additionally, Rhonda wrote a paper on how omega-3 phospholipids can reduce risk of Alzheimer’s in ApoE4 carriers, which I’ve summarized here.
Rhonda buys her salmon roe caviar in 2.2lbs bulk quantity from Vital Choice. It comes frozen in quarters, allowing you to use one section at a time.
Vitamin B Complex
Rhonda doesn’t take B vitamins in addition to the B vitamins in her multivitamin. In part, because Rhonda does not have 677CT or 677TT MTHFR mutations that indicate poor vitamin B absorption.
However, for those like her mum who are T-homozygous the MTHFR gene (SNP = rs1801133), which leads to poor uptake of folate, they may benefit from up to 800 micrograms supplementation of 5 methylfolate. If you were to take O.N.E multivitamin, which contains 400mcg, 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.
Swanson’s B-Complex is the B vitamin Rhonda took previously (source), before she cut back on B vitamins, and its particularly useful because it contains methylated versions of the B vitamins. Which is an exception, rather than the rule for vitamin B complex supplements.
To understand your own bodies ability to absorb vitamin B, you need to sequence your SNPs. The cheapest way to do that is to use 23andMe’s $99 service (you don’t need their $199 service) or Ancestry’s $99 service. Once that’s done you can export your SNP data to services like Promethease ($10) and/or Rhonda’s genetics tool ($10).
Whilst Rhonda doesn’t actively supplement melatonin herself, she does suggest this can be a useful strategy either if you’re over 50 years of age (because natural melatonin production decreases), or if you have trouble sleeping.
The aspect of melatonin production decreasing with age is important (see this study for more discussion). We know that good sleep is absolutely crucial to overall health, so if we can supplement melatonin and measure a noticeable positive impact on sleep, that’s a huge (easy) win. This can be coupled with exercise, which also improves sleep quality (for both younger and older people).
With melatonin, it’s easy to fall into the trap of more = better. However an MIT study found that supplementing no more 300mcg (microgram) was ideal. Doses above this induced hypothermia (being too cold during sleep) and caused melatonin levels in the blood to remain elevated the next day (which can lead to groggyness).
It’s actually not so easy to get low dose melatonin supplement, because most are measuring in mg (milligram) range (such as 2mg, 5mg etc) which is much higher than 300mcg, but a company called Life Extension do offer a 300mcg supplement – which fits into the parameters of the MIT study.
For those outside mainland USA, Rhonda’s multivitamin; Pure Encapsulations O.N.E can be difficult to obtain. Four comparable multivitamins that have broad coverage of essential micronutrients are:
- Thorne Research – Multi-Vitamin Elite (High end, somewhat pricey supplement)
- Thorne Research – Basic Nutrients 2 / Day (Cheaper, but still very broad micronutrient coverage)
- Now Foods Special Two
- Optimum Nutrition – Opti-Men
The two options by Thorne contain methylated B vitamins, including folate in place of folic acid. With the Elite version containing extras such as vitamin K, curcumin phytosome and choline.
The Now Foods & Optimum Nutrition options don’t contain methylated B vitamins, but are still good options if Thorne products are hard to come by.
Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
First & Second Trimesters
Rhonda’s regular supplement regime contains products such as Lion’s Mane mushrooms and Nicotinamide Riboside that haven’t been tested on pregnant women. Therefore to maintain absolute safety, Rhonda removed all these supplements from her diet whilst pregnant, and only used the following:
- Multivitamin – Thorne Research Prenatal – 3 capsules/day
- Fish Oil – Norwegian Pure-3 DHA – 5 capsules/day
- Vitamin D – Thorne Research – D3 1,000iu – 2 capsules/day (total of 3,000iu per day, including the 1,000iu of D3 from Thorne Prenatal)
- Rhonda continued using the products above, and added Visbiome probiotics – 1 sachet/day. She didn’t take probiotics first or second trimester.
- Her third trimester blood test results came back showing iron deficiency, so she added an extra iron supplement: Thorne Research – Iron Bisglycinate. This won’t be necessary unless your blood test results indicate low levels. The prenatal multivitamin already contains 45mg of iron bisglycinate.
Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
- Multivitamin – Thorne Research – Prenatal – 3 capsule/day
- Fish Oil – Norwegian Pure-3 DHA – 5 capsules/day
- Probiotics – Visbiome Probiotic – 1 sachet/day
- Vitamin D – Thorne Research – D3 1,000iu – 5 capsules/day (6,000iu of vitamin D per day total, including the 1,000iu of D3 from Thorne Prenatal)
- PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) – Life Extension – PQQ – 1 capsule/day
- Vitamin K2 – Thorne Research K2/D3 Drops – 1 drop/every 2-3 days
The source for details on Rhonda’s breastfeeding supplement regime is 1hr 38mins into her October crowdcast video for Patreon supporters.
(It’s worth noting with the above study, that it was performed on people in rural China. It’s possible they were already mildly deficient in micronutrients, thus the multivitamin supplement had a noticeable impact on their children’s IQ. That being said, we know that even in developed countries like the USA, segments of the population are mildly deficient in essential micronutrients, so the study still holds value. What has not been proven is that a multivitamin could improve IQ where no deficiency exists).
Research has shown that pregnant women need more of certain nutrients than they would otherwise. Rhonda opted to use a multivitamin by Thorne called Basic Prenatal. This has a number of key benefits:
- Supplementation of folic acid reduces the risk of having a child born with brain of spinal cord birth defect5. Basic Prenatal uses the methylated form of folate (5-MTHF), which is optimal even for those with an MTHFR mutation that makes them less efficient at utilizing folic acid. Actually, for those women with the aforementioned MTHFR mutation, neural tube defects are a bigger risk than normal6
- As well as using an optimal version of folic acid, Basic Prenatal also uses a well absorbed version of iron, iron bisglycinate, which meets a pregnant woman’s need for increased iron, whilst being easy on the stomach and non-constipating.
- It contains several of Basic Prenatal’s ingredients (including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and vitamin K) have been demonstrated to benefit morning sickness.
- Lastly, it doesn’t contain any additives like stearates, colorants or preservatives – unlike some mainstream prenatal supplements.
For more information on approaches Rhonda took to her pregnancy and breastfeeding, see this detailed post post I’ve written up on the subject.
Rhonda’s Method for Choosing Supplement Brands
The supplement industry, surprisingly, is largely unregulated. Especially when compared to the stringent regulations that are imposed on the pharmaceutical industry. This amplifies the importance of choosing a supplement that you can rely upon. In a Tim Ferriss interview Rhonda recommended that you check if the supplement brand you’re looking to buy is certified by the NSF (National Sanitary Foundation). Their role is to independently test and certify supplements, to ensure they do not contain undeclared ingredients or contaminants. Due to the rigorous testing and inspection, NSF certification is a useful guideline when looking for safe supplement brands. Use the NSF site to search for brands you may want to buy.
As a guideline, below is the list of brands that Rhonda uses (either currently, or in the past):
- Thorne Research – see their NSF certification
- Nordic Naturals – see their NSF certification
- Pure Encapsulations – see their NSF certification
If you’re looking for more Rhonda Patrick content, below are some further posts I’ve written:
- A detailed post on Rhonda’s diet – including examples of her breakfast, lunch and dinner (link)
- Notes on many of the key things Rhonda has discussed about pregnancy, breastfeeding & baby health – based on her journey into motherhood (link)
- Rhonda on Curcumin – discussing the potential medicinal benefits of the plant (link)
Post Change Log
For those curious, see this post for a log of the key changes to this article, starting from August 17 2018.
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See Post Sources Below:
- Add-on Treatment with Curcumin Has Antidepressive Effects in Thai Patients with Major Depression: Results of a Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study – Kanchanatawan et al. (2018) – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29327213
- Administration of a Multi-Strain Probiotic Product to Women in the Perinatal Period Differentially Affects the Breast Milk Cytokine Profile and May Have Beneficial Effects on Neonatal Gastrointestinal Functional Symptoms. A Randomized Clinical Trial – Baldasarre et al. (2016)
- P884 No shared mechanisms among “old” and “new” VSL#3: Implications for claims and guidelines – C De Simone (2018)
- P884 No shared mechanisms among “old” and “new” VSL#3: Implications for claims and guidelines – C De Simone (2018)
- Multivitamin/Folic Acid Supplementation in Early Pregnancy Reduces the Prevalence of Neural Tube Defects – https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/379576
- Association between MTHFR C677T polymorphism and neural tube defect risks: A comprehensive evaluation in three groups of NTD patients, mothers, and fathers – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23056169