In this post we’ll look at the supplements Rhonda takes as of June 2021. She adjusts her supplements over time, and this post is kept continually updated. If interested, view the change log here.
It’s important to note that Rhonda has no affiliation with any of the brands mentioned – instead she uses them because her research, or her colleagues research, suggest they are good.
Whilst it’s interesting to look at what Rhonda does for herself, it’s important to note that everyone is different, and it’s essential to customize supplementation to your individual medical, genetic and dietary needs.
Rhonda’s Core Supplements
- Multivitamin – Pure Encapsulations O.N.E – 1 capsule/daily
- Vitamin D – Thorne Research – D3 – 5,000 IU total/daily
- Magnesium – Pure Encapsulations – Magnesium Glycinate – 120 mg/daily
- Fish Oil – N-PURE-3 – 4 grams/daily (currently unavailable – see alternative below)
Rhonda’s Additional Regular Supplements
- Ubiquinol – Pure Encapsulations – Ubiquinol – 200 mg/day
- Vitamin K2 – Life Extension – Vitamin K2 – 45 mcg/day
- Sulforaphane – via Prostaphane and Moringa
- PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) – Life Extension – PQQ 20mg – 20 mg/daily
- Melatonin – Pure Encapsulations – Melatonin 3mg – 10 mg/nightly
Supplements Rhonda Uses Intermittently:
- Meriva – Pure Encapsulations – CurcumaSorb – 2 capsules/intermittently
- Cocoa Extract – CocoaVia – 4 capsules/intermittently
For Immune Function:
- Vitamin C – Thorne – Ascorbic Acid – 0.5-1 gram in evenings/intermittently
- Quercetin – Thorne Research – Quercetin – 250 mg/intermittently
- Probiotics – Visbiome Probiotic sachets – 1 sachet/every 1-2 weeks
- Hydrolyzed Collagen – Great Lakes – For improved joint and skin health
- Omega-3 Phospholipids – Wild Salmon Roe Caviar
- Nootropics – see Rhonda’s preferred options for cognitive enhancement
Previously Recommended to Family Members:
- Beet Powder – Activz Organic – Rhonda has recommended to family members with high blood pressure
- Methylated B Vitamins – Swanson’s B Complex – Rhonda has recommended to family with MTHFR mutation
Not Currently Taking
- This section covers supplements Rhonda has taken previously (then stopped), and popular supplements she has researched. Specifically Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Nicotinamide Riboside, Resveratrol and Metformin.
Rhonda’s Prior Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplements
- See this section below for more information
Table of Contents
- 1 Rhonda’s Core Supplements
- 2 Omega-3 Phospholipids, Alzheimer’s & APOE4
- 3 Where Rhonda gets her Omega-3 Phospholipids from
- 4 Rhonda’s Additional Supplements
- 5 Supplements Rhonda Uses Intermittently
- 6 For Immune Function
- 7 Further supplements:
- 8 Previously Recommended to Family Members
- 9 Not Currently Taking
- 10 Multivitamin Alternatives
- 11 Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
- 12 Prenatal Multivitamin
- 13 Rhonda’s Method for Choosing Supplement Brands
- 14 Closing Remarks
Rhonda’s Core Supplements
Rhonda takes a lot of supplements – but her core supplements appear to be:
We’ll look at the details of those below, then later go on to discuss the rest.
Rhonda continues to take the same multivitamin she has for some time – Pure Encapsulations ONE.
Having the multi ensures she gets adequate amounts of essential micronutrients, whilst minimizing the number of pills she needs to take (some multivitamins require 2 or more pills per day).
Micronutrients, a subset of which are referred to as vitamins and minerals, are regarded as essential if experiments show that humans get sick in their absence. There are over 40 (!) different essential micronutrients we need to consume, in order to stay healthy.
Rhonda’s early mentor, Bruce Ames, researched what happens when our bodies have insufficient levels of micronutrients, and found that our bodies prioritize the scarce nutrients for functions related to survival and reproduction. De-prioritizing other functions, such as those that could aid in longevity.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 1 capsule/daily
N.B. For those outside the USA, where Pure Encapsulations O.N.E can be hard to obtain, see this section on comparable alternative multivitamins Rhonda has mentioned.
Rhonda has always placed a high priority on the importance of adequate vitamin D levels. However, with the Covid-19 pandemic, she made an effort to emphasize it’s importance. She appeared on the Joe Rogan podcast in May 2020 (link), pointing to a link between low vitamin D levels, and increased severity of Covid-19 disease.
Of particular interest she says, is a meta-analysis in the British Medical Journal (link) that looked at 25 randomized controlled trials, and found “vitamin D supplementation was safe and it protected against acute respiratory tract infection“.
This is on top of an existing body of knowledge that suggests vitamin D plays a “major role regulating the immune system, perhaps including immune responses to viral infection”1.
Rhonda aims to keep her vitamin D levels at between 40 and 60 ng/ml, saying she generally hovers around 50 ng/ml. Note that some geographies measure in nmol/L instead – so:
- 40 to 60 ng/ml = 100 to 150 nmol/L
For converting you can multiply ng/ml by 2.5, or use an online units calculator.
Whereas we can get adequate amounts of most micro nutrients through our diet, it’s hard to do that with vitamin D. Instead our bodies rely upon UV-B light from the sun, which we don’t always get enough of, making supplementation important.
Vitamin D is fat soluble (unlike, for instance, vitamin C), which means the body *can* store it, and your vitamin D levels *can* get too high. Therefore it’s important to use blood testing to ensure you’re staying within the healthy range. This can be done without having to get blood drawn at the doctors, using at home finger-prick blood tests such as Everlywell’s.
Rhonda’s said in multiple places recently she personally takes 5,000iu per day – and her daily multivitamin already contains 2,000IU. She last mentioned using Thorne D3, who offer 1,000iu and 5,000iu capsules. Another brand Rhonda commonly uses is Life Extension – who also offer D3 in 1,000iu and 5,000iu capsules.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 5,000IU total / daily
Rhonda notes that her multivitamin doesn’t contain Magnesium, therefore she adds it separately.
As of Feb 2021, she’s taking 120mg of magnesium daily, via Pure Encapsulations – Magnesium Glycinate. 120mg is only around 30% of the RDA, as she aims to get the majority of magnesium from her diet.
However, with her mother, who she knows doesn’t eat as many greens, she encourages a higher dose.
Rhonda describes getting adequate magnesium as a “long term investment”. It’s a co-factor for over 300 enzymes in the body. Many of those enzymes have to do with energy production and energy utilisation. So it makes sense you’d want it for preventing muscle cramps and things like that. But, Rhonda says, it’s also important for repairing damage to the body, because magnesium is very important for DNA repair enzymes. That’s not something that’s going to show up acutely like a muscle cramp. DNA damage is something you’ll never know about, so making sure you get enough magnesium is extremely important for the ageing process.
Rhonda likes to emphasize that leafy green vegetables are a particularly good source of magnesium. This is because magnesium composes part of the chlorophyll molecule, the green pigment in plants that helps absorb light. So, if you see leafy green vegetables, you know you’ll be able to get some of the bound-up magnesium from it. Approximately 1/2 the US population are thought to be deficient in magnesium2
Other foods high in magnesium include avocados, almonds, oats and peanut butter (see full list here).
Rhonda’s Dosage: 120mg / daily
Omega-3 Fish Oil
Rhonda currently takes an omega-3 supplement called Norwegian PURE-3, which is touted as a high quality fish oil with low levels of oxidation. It comes in 2 versions; high DHA and high EPA. Rhonda alternates back and forth between the two, taking high EPA one day and high DHA the other.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 6 capsules/daily of NPure-3 – alternating between high EPA & high DHA
Norwegian Pure-3 Alternative?
Unfortunately this product (Norwegian PURE-3) has been out of stock for months. Rhonda was asked in her June 2021 members Q&A what alternative she would suggest?
She then went on to specifically discuss Carlson’s Maximum Omega 2000 – saying it scored well in the IFOS tests.
Using the 3 IFOS reports available at time of writing, the average total oxidation (TOTOX) for the product is 4.35 For perspective, IFOS consider a TOTOX of under 19.5 a pass. So 4.35 is significantly under their target. Comparatively, in a 2015 study (link) of retail fish oil products, out of 134 tested, the average TOTOX value was 37 (!) (see table 3 of the study).
You can check the test results yourself by going to its IFOS product page, and then downloading each batch report.
The astute reader may notice that Maximum Omega 2000 has a different ratio of omega-3s to NPure-3, as laid out in the table below. It’s most similar to to NPure-3’s EPA product.
|Per 2 capsule serving||Maximum Omega 2000||NPure-3 EPA||NPure-3 DHA|
|EPA||1,250 mg||1,000 mg||400 mg|
|DHA||500 mg||400 mg||1,000 mg|
|Other omega-3s||250 mg||300 mg||300 mg|
Carlson don’t do a high DHA alternative to their Max Omega 2000 – but if you want to emulate Rhonda’s approach of alternating between high DHA and high EPA days, you could use their Elite DHA product, which provides 1,000mg of DHA per capsule (but with zero EPA). Based on IFOS testing the total oxidation value for the DHA product comes in at 9.
Omega-3 Phospholipids, Alzheimer’s & APOE4
This next section is mainly relevant to those with the APOE4 gene. It’s estimated that around 25% of the population have it. You can check this by getting a 23andMe test (their cheaper ancestry test is sufficient) – and then exporting the raw data they provide into Rhonda’s genetic report or to Promethease. 23andMe’s more expensive health package should include APOE4 testing.
APOE4 increases Alzheimer’s risk between 2-3x if you’ve 1 allele and 15x if you’ve 2 allele’s.
One of the reasons for the increase in Alzheimer’s risk with APOE4 is that it impairs regular DHA transport.
In 2018 Rhonda published an open access paper on a possible mechanism for getting DHA into the brain, which bypasses the impaired route.
Rhonda’s paper proposes that consuming DHA in phospholipid form gets around impaired DHA transport. The reason for this is that phospholipid DHA gets converted to DHA-lysoPC, by a specialized transporter called MFSD2A. This transport system appears to continue to work even when regular DHA transport is impaired.
Providing DHA to the brain again, in the form of DHA-lysoPC, may reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk.
According to Rhonda, omega-3 phospholipids are found in fish, and in greatest concentration in fish roe (fish eggs).
Rhonda displaying her paper on mitigating APOE4 induced Alzheimer’s disease risk
Where Rhonda gets her Omega-3 Phospholipids from
Rhonda currently gets hers via wild salmon roe caviar, instead of using a supplement version. She bulk buys her caviar from Vital Choice, who offer it in 2.2lbs packages that can be frozen, and then defrosted one quarter at a time. Consuming this in addition to her regular omega-3 supplementation.
She opted for the salmon roe caviar instead of her previous omega-3 phospholipid supplements, as she learn it was superior. The prior supplements were a herring roe extract made by Nordic Naturals, and before that, Krill oil.
Rhonda’s Additional Supplements
So far we’ve discussed Rhonda’s core supplements. In this next section we’ll look at the rest of the supplement Rhonda takes regularly:
You may already be familiar with a supplement called CoenzymeQ10. CoQ10 comes in two common forms; ubiquinone (the oxidized form) and ubiquinol (the reduced form). The version Rhonda’s taking (ubiquinol) is proposed to be more bio-available than ubiquinone3.
She describes ubiquinol as playing an important role in mitochondrial energy production.
Whilst it’s found naturally in our diets, Rhonda said in her Feb 2021 Q&A she is supplementing an additional 200mg per day
She’s specifically using Pure Encapsulations – Ubiquinol-QH 200mg – which is expensive, even for ubiquinol. Apparently it uses “Kaneka” brand ubiquinol, which is also used by Now Ubiquinol 200 mg and Jarrow Ubiquinol 200 mg – who charge notably less for it.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 200 mg / daily
Rhonda currently takes 50 micrograms of vitamin K2 daily (source: see her comments on this IG post + also mentioned in Feb 2021 Q&A). She takes it on the basis that it’s an “insurance policy”, in case she doesn’t get enough K1 from vegetables.
For more background on the interplay between vitamin K1 and K2, Rhonda describes it as follows…
Vitamin K is an essential micronutrient, that’s plays a crucial role in the ability to form blood clots, and to transport calcium around the body.
It comes in 2 different forms, vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone).
Vitamin K1 is the most abundant in a western diet, primarily found in leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K2 on the other hand is found in fermented foods, which are less common in a western diet. A source that’s particularly high in K2 are fermented soya beans, also known as “natto” in Japan.
Vitamin K1, once absorbed by the body, is prioritized for use in the liver to produce proteins essential for blood clotting. When that task is satisfied, then the level of K1 increases in the blood, and helps to transport calcium for use around the body.
Unfortunately, many people are low in vitamin K1, and therefore may have inadequate levels of K1 to support adequate calcium transport. The NHANES 2011-2012 study found only 57% of men and 37.5% of women (N = 4,306) met the “adequate intake” of K14. This could lead to increased cardiovascular risk as a result5, although more research needed.
So where does the vitamin K2 supplementation come in?
Whilst vitamin K1 is prioritized for use in the liver, vitamin K2 appears to be prioritized for use in the periphery, which will support calcium transport6.
In terms of supplementing K2 (menaquinone), there are two key forms; MK4 & MK7. MK7 has a longer half-life, but MK4 is more studied.
Rhonda said on her Feb 2021 Q&A she’s taking 50mcg of vitamin K2 (MK4 specifically) from Life Extension. However, they don’t list that product on their website or elsewhere. The closest I can find is Life Extension – Vitamin K2 MK7 45 mcg – so I will presume she means that – unless I learn otherwise.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 45 mcg / daily
Rhonda’s a big proponent of the benefits of sulforpahane and has talked about it a lot. For extensive details, see this separate post where we look at what sulforaphane is, why it’s important, and the various forms Rhonda consumes it in, including self-grown broccoli sprouts.
Currently Rhonda is consuming sulforaphane in 2 forms; prostaphane tablets and moringa powder. Note: since having her son she has less time for growing broccoli sprouts.
She takes 2 prostaphane tablets daily, and then adds Moringa in smoothies.
The sulforaphane supplement Rhonda takes is called Prostaphane. Rather than containing sulforaphane glucosinolate like most sulforaphane products, it contains a free-form stabilized version of sulforaphane – which improves bioavailability.
It’s only sold in France, and so Rhonda was using a service (called moncoinsante.co.uk) to import it into the USA. At the time of writing, that website seems to be down / defunct.
Fortunately, there appears to be a new US based alternative. A company called Superhuman Health have collaborated with the French manufacturers of Prostaphane to offer a near identical product in the USA called BROQ. Prostaphane’s website mentions Broq in the header now.
BROQ contains 10mg of sulforpahane per tablet, the same as Prostaphane.
On her last Q&A Rhonda was asked about BROQ, and said whilst in theory it should be the same thing, but she still has stores of Prostaphane so hasn’t started taking yet.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 2 tablets (20mg) of Prostaphane per day, after a meal (avoid taking on an empty stomach)
Rhonda added Moringa powder to her diet after research from Jed Fahey at Johns Hopkins University. Moringa is derived from the leaves of the Drumstick Tree, which are harvested, dried and then powdered. It contains an isothiocynate with very similar properties to sulforaphane, called Moringin.
In Jed’s studies on Moringa, participants consumed it as a cold-brewed tea. This can be made by:
- Adding moringa powder to room temperature water at ratio of 1:100 powder to water
- Leaving to stand for at least 10 minutes, then drinking
- The reason for avoiding hot water is because the myrocinase enzyme in moringa is sensitive to heat, and it’s crucial to preserve it
In terms of which Moringa to use, Jed’s studies used Kuli Kuli Moringa. He notes in their FAQs that excessive sunlight or heat after harvest will rapidly degrade some of the phytochemicals and vitamins of interest in the leaves – so it’s worth caution when sourcing.
As mentioned above, for more details on Rhonda’s use of sulforaphane see this separate post.
PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone)
PQQ is a compound found in plants that has been found to decrease inflammation and improve mitochondrial efficacy in humans.7. That said, it’s still relatively under studied compared to other supplements.
In a paper published in 2016, Japanese researchers found that PQQ improves cognitive function (measured using the stroop test), by increasing blood flow and oxygen metabolism to the right prefrontal cortex8
Rhonda takes 2 capsules daily of Life Extension- PQQ Caps. This comes in the disodium salt form that was used in the above study.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 2 capsules/daily
Melatonin is a hormone produced by our bodies to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. We produce melatonin as the sun sets and night sets in, and we reduce production as the sun rises and our body preps for wakefulness.
Rhonda suggests that melatonin can be useful as we age (particularly for those 50+), because over time our natural production decreases.
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 big (easy) win. This can be coupled with exercise, which also improves sleep quality (for both younger and older people).
The specific figure of 10mg likely comes from a string of research papers on sleep disruption, where ~9mg was the dose used.
Rhonda mentioned in her Feb 2021 Q&A she takes melatonin by Pure Encapsulations – possibly Pure Encapsulations – Melatonin 3mg.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 9mg / nightly
Supplements Rhonda Uses Intermittently
So far we’ve covered supplements that Rhonda has said she takes on a daily basis. In this next section we’ll cover supplements Rhonda takes intermittently.
Rhonda continues to take a curcumin supplement (Meriva) for its anti-inflammatory effects. Noting it also doubles as a (weak) alternative to painkillers.
Related to curcumin, Rhonda discussed the herb it’s derived from, Turmeric, in an Instagram post (link). She expressed her concern at lead chromate being added to turmeric during processing to enhance the yellow color.
Note: the easiest way to find this comment thread on her Instagram is to open the post via the Instagram mobile app – where this is the top comment. If instead you view via a web browser, then the comment isn’t at the top, and it may be hard to locate.
For more info on turmeric and lead chromate, see these studies:
- Ground Turmeric as a Source of Lead Exposure in the United States – link
- Lead chromate pigments added to turmeric threaten public health across Bangladesh – link
Rhonda continues to utilize turmeric in its organic form (which doesn’t have lead chromate added) – both as juices and in smoothies. It has a host of potential benefits, including:
- A 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 depression9
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).
Rhonda first mentioned taking a cocoa flavanol supplement in her December 2019 supporters crowdcast, and then more recently discussed it in her Feb 2021 Q&A.
She says she’s taking 2 capsules of CococaVia daily, specifically in the morning, because it contains a small amount of caffeine.
Rhonda cites 3 potential benefits of cocoa flavanols:
- Enhanced circulation
- Improved cognitive function
- Improvements to skin (decreased wrinkles and increased skin elasticity)
See the studies Rhonda mentions in regard to enhanced circulation:
- Dark chocolate (85% cocoa), but not milk chocolate (35% cocoa), improved walking ability in elderly patients with peripheral artery disease.10
- Increased endurance performance in young male cyclists who consumed dark chocolate – showing a performance increase of 17% vs consuming white chocolate11
- Cocoa consumption decreased blood pressure in healthy individuals, in a dose dependent manner 12
Then studies in regards to enhanced cognition:
- Increased cognition in young adults, measured via a cognitively demanding test13
- Protection from cognitive decline in the elderly14
Then lastly, a Korean study showed 320mg of cocoa daily reduced wrinkles and increased skin elasticity (measured after 24 weeks)15.
Of course, it’s worth noting that the amount of cocoa in regular chocolate is low – so you want to be consuming high cacao content products to receive these benefits. The studies above specifically reference the cocoa flavanol content as a quantitative marker, and CocoaVia contains 450mg of cocoa flavanols per serving.
In an Instagram post (link) Rhonda mentions studies have shown that many cocoa products have high levels of cadmium and lead16. That’s a blow for dark chocolate fans (myself included) who hadn’t considered heavy metal consumption might be a risk. She goes on to say that in a Consumer Lab report, the CocoaVia brand was shown to have almost undetectable levels of cadmium and lead – making it a safe option, and a key reason she opted for it.
It’s perhaps worth noting that CocoaVia lunched a new product called Memory+ (in a blue bottle). It’s a higher dose product (750mg vs 450mg), which is based off clinical studies1718 that showed this dose improves word recall and led to faster spatial memory versus the placebo. Interestingly, at price per gram of flavanols, it also works out cheaper than the original version ($2.22/gram vs $3.33/gram). This version just came out, so it’s not the one Rhonda previously mentioned taking, but it is by the same brand.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 4 capsules per day, in the morning, intermittently
For Immune Function
Back in Rhonda’s March 2020 Q&A for crowd sponsors she switched her whole supplement routine up to focus on immune support for Covid. The virus was still new then, and she was “throwing the kitchen sink” at it with supplements.
A year has passed, and we understand the threat a lot better. Of the supplements she was taking with immune function in mind, she continues taking 2 of them now; high-dose vitamin C and Quercetin – which we look more at below.
But first, if you’re curious what her full list was, expand the box below.
The full list of Rhonda’s early 2020 supplements for immune support, with Covid in mind:
- Vitamin C – 1-2 grams, 4x per day
- Quercetin– 250 mg/daily
- Zinc – 15mg/daily (on top of the 25mg in her multivitamin)
- N-acetyl L-cysteine (NAC) – 1200 mg/daily
- Liposomal Glutathione – 500 mg/daily
- Sulforaphane – via Prostaphane and Moringa
Given that she’s still taking:
- Vitamin C – 0.5-1 g 1x in evening
- Quercetin – 250 mg/daily
- Zinc – 25 mg daily (via her multivitamin)
- Sulforaphane – via Prostaphane and Moringa
She’s only really dropped the NAC and Glutathione, and then reduced her daily doses of Zinc and Vitamin C.
With immune function in mind, Rhonda did a deep dive into the literature on vitamin C – producing a large Vitamin-C topic page on her site. Her research began with some skepticism, but after pouring through the data, she became convinced it’s benefits are appreciable. Rhonda spoke at length about vitamin C supplementation at 59mins 10secs of her March 7 Q&A for crowd sponsors.
In terms of which form to take, Rhonda was taking it as regular ascorbic acid. She hasn’t seen any convincing evidence that it needs to be taken alongside flavonoids or in a liposomal form. Not to mention the liposomal form is significantly more expensive.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 0.5-1 gram intermittently in evenings
Quercetin is a naturally occurring plant polyphenol, found in small quantities in foods such as capers, cilantro, kale and more (see list).
Rhonda is particularly interested in quercetin for the research suggesting it may act as a “zinc ionophore” – helping to get zinc into cells, which can be otherwise hard. This relates to the idea that zinc may inhibit viral replication1920.
“Ionophores”, by the way, are substances which can transport particular ions across a lipid membrane in a cell.
Rhonda currently supplements 250 mg per dose. She didn’t mention which specific brand she is using, but typically she opts for brands like Pure Encapsulations – Quercetin or Thorne Research – Quercetin.
Rhonda’s Dosage: 250 mg intermittently
On the subject of quercetin, Rhonda has also taken up drinking Buckwheat Tea, which contains quercetin in small amounts. In addition to being a zinc ionophore, quercetin also has senolytic properties, which Rhonda talks about more on Instagram here (senolytics are compounds that can remove senescent cells). If you’re new to Buckwheat tea, and would like to try it, you’d be looking for a roasted blend (rather than raw) which brings out more flavor.
Rhonda is keenly aware of the importance of a healthy gut microbiome. Typically she takes Visbiome probiotics every few weeks, to top up her healthy gut bacteria.
Visbiome comes in sachet and pill form. Rhonda opts for the sachets which contain 4x as many live bacteria.
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 one23, 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 study24 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.
Dosage: 1 sachet/every 1-2 weeks
Rhonda carries one ApoE4 allele, which makes omega-3 phospholipids particularly interesting. ApoE4 (and aging!) can cause omega-3 DHA uptake by the brain to become less efficient. Omega-3 phospholipids get around this because the body has a separate transporter for them (MSF2DA25), thus improving DHA uptake in a situation where it would otherwise be poor. Rhonda has written more on this subject in a paper she published, and I summarized here.
Another benefit of phospholipid omega-3s are that they contain astaxanthin, which protects the omega-3s (EPA & DHA) from oxidation, and similarly protects brain cells from oxidation26.
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).
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.
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 hydrolyzed 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 haemoglobin was found in the skin dermis suggesting improved microcirculation (study source).
Choline – Alpha GPC
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
The three supplements she named were:
- Alpha GPC Choline – discussed below
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom – discussed here
- Sulforaphane – discussed more in this post
Rhonda said she 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 likes Alpha GPC because it is quick to cross the blood-brain barrier. She would take 600mg doses, noting that 300mg didn’t appear to be enough to make a difference.
Dosage: 600 mg (2 capsules) of NOW – Alpha GPC
Previously Recommended to Family Members
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.
Unfortunately Activz Organic Beet Powder appears to be out of stock everywhere, so have listed some potential alternatives below. Unfortunately was unable to find an option that’s both made in USA and organic. The options where the beets are grown in India is both organic, and well priced, I just don’t know much about the rigor of India’s organic produce.
|Product||Price per 100g||Non GMO?||Organic?||Country of Production|
|LaJoie Beet Powder||$5.93||Non GMO||Not organic||USA|
|Antler Farms Beet Powder||$15.00||Non GMO||Organic||New Zealand|
|Micro Ingredients Beet Powder||$5.94||Non GMO||Organic||India|
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 ($12) and/or Rhonda’s genetics tool ($25).
Not Currently Taking
This section covers supplements that Rhonda has previously taken but isn’t currently. I could just strike them from the list, but I think for some this list (and the rationales) may be of interest.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Rhonda was using Four Sigmatic’s Lion’s Mane tea for intense periods of writing and creative work up until she became 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 test for heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury) + other toxins & chemicals (source). Guaranteeing to have less than 1 PPM of arsenic, 0.1 PPM of Cadmium, less than 1 PPM of lead and less than 0.05 PPM of Mercury.
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’s Previous Dosage: 1x 3g pack of Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Elixir
Prior to having her son, Rhonda was experimenting with a Nicotinamide Riboside supplement by Thorne. However whilst pregnant, Rhonda stopped taking any non-essential supplements (including Nicotinamide Riboside) that could pose even the slightest risk to her child.
The nicotinamide riboside product she was taking before was called Thorne NiaCel (now discontinued) – which contained Nicotinamide Riboside Chloride made by Chromadex. Chromadex also produce Nicotinamide Riboside under their own brand; called Tru Niagen.
As of yet, Rhonda hasn’t come back to taking Nicotinamide Riboside, and has said she is waiting for more human research to be completed.
In her Dec 2019 Q&A discussion, she discussed Resveratrol, saying that she doesn’t take it currently, but is considering taking it.
She says her interest in resveratrol stems mainly from preliminary clinical trials showing positive benefits in cognition for older and cognitively impaired adults, including:
- A study, 200mg/daily resveratrol supplementation improved healthy 50-75 year olds memory recall27.
- In another study, patients with alzheimer’s disease who took resveratrol saw improvements in cognition, and decreases in biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease and inflammation28.
Her current reservation is around a study that showed 250mg/day of resveratrol blunted the positive effects of exercise29. However, another study using 500mg showed synergistic effects in combination with exercise30. Rhonda’s current hypothesis for why is that at lower doses resveratrol may act as a mild antioxidant, which then blunts the positive effects of exercise (similar to high dose Vitamin E).
When asked what type of resveratrol she would take, she said a micronized powder form, and that a company called RevGenetics make that (noting again that she has no connection with them or any other supplement company).
For more on David Sinclair and the supplements he takes, including Resveratrol and NMN, see this separate post.
Metformin has been studied in humans since the 1950’s, and is most commonly taken to battle type 2 diabetes. In recent years its become popular amongst biohackers looking to extend their healthspan + lifespan. As this novel, off-label use has become more popular, its invited further research into whether this approach makes sense.
In a podcast with Kevin Rose (Jan 2020 – link), Rhonda discussed the use of metformin for longevity.
She notes that exercise is better at preventing type 2 diabetes than metformin, citing a randomized controlled trial involving 3,200 people31. She also questions the value of metformin in healthy individuals who exercise. This is because the health benefits of exercise are vast and well documented, and it appears that metformin inhibits a number of these. Namely:
- Reduction in gaining lean muscle mass whilst on an exercise program, compared to placebo32.
- Inhibition of mitochondrial adaptations and improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness by 50 percent and diminished whole-body insulin sensitivity after aerobic exercise33.
So when it comes to healthy individuals who exercise, she doesn’t see any synergy with the use of metformin for improving healthspan and lifespan. However, for people who don’t exercise, then the use of metformin may warrant further inspection. See Rhonda’s research section on metformin for more info.
Note that if you’re interested in taking the prescription drug metformin for off-label use, you should consult with a doctor on the subject. The above does not constitute medical advice in any shape or form.
For those outside mainland USA, Rhonda’s multivitamin; Pure Encapsulations O.N.E can sometimes be difficult to obtain. A good alternative (Rhonda used one of Thorne’s multivitamins during pregnancy) is:
Other comparable options include:
- Thorne Research – Multi-Vitamin Elite (High end, somewhat pricey)
- Life Extension – Two-Per-Day Multivitamin
All 3 options contain methylated folate, rather than folic acid, which is important for poor methylators.
This ends the main list of supplements.
Below we’ll look at supplements Rhonda used during her pregnancy (a section which, of course, won’t be applicable to all). You can instead skip to the next section – Rhonda’s Method for Choosing Supplement Brands.
Rhonda’s Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Supplement Regimen
This section just includes a summary of the supplements Rhonda used whilst pregnant and breastfeeding. For the full post on the subject, see here.
First & Second Trimesters
Rhonda’s regular supplement regime contained products such as Lion’s Mane mushrooms and Nicotinamide Riboside that haven’t been tested in 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 (Visbiome was created by the same person as VSL#3, has a similar formulation, and typically costs less). 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.
- Rhonda increased her Wild Alaskan Salmon Roe intake to daily (source) – on the basis that in the last 13 weeks of pregnancy, the babies brain triples in weight, and the cerebellum (involved in motor control) increases surface area by 30x.
So by consuming the salmon roe, she provides her baby with a good source of phospholipid DHA (absorbed 10x better in the developing brain than regular DHA), and DHA is one of the major components of the brain. Rhonda buys her salmon roe in bulk from Vital Choice.
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 – NOW K-2 MK7, 100mcg – approximately 3 capsules/week
- Sulforaphane – Prostaphane – 1/day 
 Rhonda added back sulforaphane whilst breastfeeding (after taking a break whilst pregnant) but opted for Prostaphane capsules, to avoid any risk of contaminated broccoli sprouts, and to free up time for baby duties. I’ve talked about Prostaphane and sulforaphane more in this post. Prostaphane is actually only sold in France, so has to be exported. The closest equivalent available in USA is Avmacol.
The source for details on Rhonda’s breastfeeding supplement regime is 1hr 38mins into her October crowdcast video for Patreon supporters.
Toddler Supplements – For a list of the supplements Rhonda is giving to her growing toddler, see this separate post.
(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 defect34. 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 normal35
- 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 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.
As a guideline, below is the list of brands that Rhonda often uses (either currently, or in the past):
- Pure Encapsulations – see their NSF certification
- Thorne Research – see their NSF certification
- Life Extension – see their NSF certification
- Nordic Naturals – see their NSF certification
Then separately, Rhonda has discussed using labdoor.com in order to check supplements for contaminants. For example, when she was choosing a cocoa supplement, she went to labdoor to see which were low in heavy metals.
Hopefully the above post has been interesting, and you’ve taken away something useful from it.
If you value the research and content that Rhonda is putting out, consider signing up become a premium member on her site. Firstly, this crowd sponsored support allows her to continue to work independently, without being reliant on sponsors or grants. Secondly, premium members get a number of exclusive benefits, including members only emails, monthly Ask Me Anything live streams and open access to use her genetics reports.
If you’re looking for further Rhonda Patrick related content, below are some related posts I’ve written:
- A detailed post on Rhonda’s diet – including examples of her breakfast, lunch and dinner (link)
- A post on Rhonda’s approach to exercise + examples of what she does (link)
- Notes on many of the key things Rhonda has discussed about pregnancy, breastfeeding & baby health – based on her journey into motherhood (link)
- Notes on the supplements Rhonda is giving to her, now, toddler (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.
See Post Sources Below:
- Vitamin D and the anti-viral state – Beart et al. (2011)
- Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? – Rosanoff et al. (2012)
- Increased Bioavailability of Ubiquinol Compared to Ubiquinone – Aoki et al. (2014)
- Vegetables and Mixed Dishes Are Top Contributors to Phylloquinone Intake in US Adults: Data from the 2011-2012 NHANES – Harshman et al. (2017)
- Circulating uncarboxylated matrix Gla protein, a marker of vitamin K status, as a risk factor of cardiovascular disease – van den Heuvel et al. (2014)
- The relationship between vitamin K and peripheral arterial disease – Vissers et al. (2016)
- Dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) alters indicators of inflammation and mitochondrial-related metabolism in human subjects – Harris et al (2013)
- Effect of the Antioxidant Supplement Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt (BioPQQ) on Cognitive Functions – Itoh et al (2016)
- 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)
- Dark Chocolate Acutely Improves Walking Autonomy in Patients With Peripheral Artery Disease – Violi et al. (2014)
- Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling – Patel et al. (2015)
- Cocoa consumption dose-dependently improves flow-mediated dilation and arterial stiffness decreasing blood pressure in healthy individuals – Claudio et al. (2015)
- The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people – Francis et al (2006)
- Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study – Desideri et al. (2012)
- Cocoa Flavanol Supplementation Influences Skin Conditions of Photo-Aged Women: A 24-Week Double-Blind, Randomized, Controlled Trial – Chung et al. (2015)
- Cadmium and lead in cocoa powder and chocolate products in the US Market – Abt et al (2017)
- Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial – Mastroiacovo et al. (2014)
- Enhancing dentate gyrus function with dietary flavanols improves cognition in older adults – Brickman et al. (2014)
- Zinc ions inhibit replication of rhinoviruses – Butterworth et al. (1974)
- Zinc is a negative regulator of hepatitis C virus RNA replication – Mori et al. (2006)
- Mechanisms of probiotic action: Implications for therapeutic applications in inflammatory bowel diseases – Vanderpool et al. (2008)
- Probiotics: progress toward novel therapies for intestinal diseases – Yan et al. (2010)
- 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)
- Mfsd2a is a transporter for the essential omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid – Nguyen et al (2014)
- Amelioration of oxidative stress and protection against early brain injury by astaxanthin after experimental subarachnoid hemorrhage – Zhang et al (2014)
- Effects of Resveratrol on Memory Performance, Hippocampal Functional Connectivity, and Glucose Metabolism in Healthy Older Adults – Witte et al. (2014)
- Resveratrol regulates neuro-inflammation and induces adaptive immunity in Alzheimer’s disease – Moussa et al. (2017)
- Resveratrol blunts the positive effects of exercise training on cardiovascular health in aged men – Gliemann et al (2013)
- Resveratrol Enhances Exercise-Induced Cellular and Functional Adaptations of Skeletal Muscle in Older Men and Women – Alway et al. (2017)
- Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin – Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group (2002)
- Metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to progressive resistance exercise training in older adults: A randomized, double‐blind, placebo‐controlled, multicenter trial: The MASTERS trial – Walton et al (Sept 2019)
- Metformin inhibits mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training in older adults – Konopka et al (2018)
- Multivitamin/Folic Acid Supplementation in Early Pregnancy Reduces the Prevalence of Neural Tube Defects – Milunsky et al. (1989)
- Association between MTHFR C677T polymorphism and neural tube defect risks: A comprehensive evaluation in three groups of NTD patients, mothers, and fathers – Yan et al. (2012)