Two Pills: A Simple Anti-Aging Supplement Routine
While I personally use a variety of supplements to improve my health, I also understand that most people don't want to spend the time or the money to maintain a crowded pill organizer every week.
Even if you could devise the optimal supplement routine, if it's not practical to consistently follow then you won't see results. For these reasons, I've simplified an anti-aging routine down to two pills for the average person who doesn't want to go down the supplement rabbit hole.
As with almost everything I write about, I use the products described below and believe they incorporate the latest research on compounds that may prevent aging.
Rating the best compounds
To determine the most effective supplements for anti-aging I used a taxonomy created by Dr. Sandra Kaufmann, M.D. which categories various molecular compounds based on how they affect cellular aging.
The so-called Kaufmann Protocol organizes cellular aging into seven categories which encompass all of the presently known modes of cellular aging. Based on how different compounds align to these categories, a strategy can then be developed where aging is curtailed in every category.
In total, there are 27 different compounds which are rated on a scale of 1 to 3 in each cellular aging category.
Narrowing down the list
To narrow down the list of compounds into something more manageable, I first removed items I knew I wouldn't take. For example, although metformin may be one of the most promising, it also requires a doctor's prescription, so I crossed it off the list.
Other compounds I knew I wanted to include, such as those discussed in the book Lifespan: Why We Age–and Why We Don't Have To, were resveratrol and nicotinamide riboside. Read my book review for why these compounds are important for protecting against epigenetic changes that cause aging.
The treatment I ended up with below contains six different anti-aging compounds, including the top four highest-rated (excluding metformin) and two others that work synergistically to enhance their effects.
My routine is simple: two products, take one pill of each in the morning and the same in the evening. That way you're getting one serving of each product and are within the recommended dosages.
The formulations are made by Thorne, an established provider of high-quality supplements, although this article isn't sponsored or advertised by them. I've just landed on Thorne as a company that makes great products. If another company comes along with a better formulation I'm happy to consider them.
- Thorne ResveraCel – I take this formulation so that I get nicotinamide riboside (NR), a powerful sirtuin activator that protects against epigenetic changes that cause aging. It also contains quercetin and resveratrol and combines well with the next product to increase their dosage. Trimethylglycine is added to support NR due to the higher methylation demands it may cause on the body.
- Thorne PolyResveratrol-SR – I take this formulation to cover my bases on a variety of anti-aging compounds. It contains quercetin and resveratrol which overlap with the product above, and also contains pterostilbene, curcumin, and EGCG (green tea extract).
- Nicotinamide riboside (NR) – The goal of taking NR is to increase the intracellular NAD+ levels in your body. NAD+ is essential for mitochondria function, sirtuin activation, DNA repair, and energy levels. It is made naturally in the body but decreases with age. NAD+ precursors like NR are usually combined with other sirtuin activators such as resveratrol or pterostilbene.
- Trimethylglycine (TMG) – It's believed that higher NAD+ levels increase methylation demands in the body, so TMG is added as a methyl group donor to support NR.
- Resveratrol / Pterostilbene – Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and present in small amounts in wine, which has made the substance trendy. Unfortunately, resveratrol has low bioavailability in the body, but its cousin, pterostilbene, exhibits much better absorption. Both of these compounds are potent sirtuin activators and mimic the effects of calorie restriction.
- Quercetin – A plant pigment (flavonoid) that works on similar pathways as resveratrol and pterostilbene and helps slow their breakdown. Quercetin is a potent antioxidant and enhances sirtuin activity. There is also research to indicate that quercetin may be a senolytic, which means it could help induce death of senescent "zombie" cells that contribute to aging.
- Curcumin – A bright yellow compound found in turmeric root, a key ingredient in many Asian dishes. Like quercetin, curcumin is a strong antioxidant, helps activate AMPK, mimics calorie restriction, and enhances sirtuin activity. Studies have also found that curcumin helps support a normal inflammatory response.
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – One of the most active molecules found in green tea. EGCG has been shown to help with weight control, maintain cardiovascular and metabolic health, and have neuroprotective properties.
Risks and side effects
There are no glaring risks to any of the ingredients in these products. Some exceptions exist, such as if you're undergoing chemotherapy, in which case you should avoid curcumin supplements as they have been shown to reduce the efficacy of some drugs.
Both nicotinamide riboside (NR) and pterostilbene have been shown to slightly decrease blood pressure. Pterostilbene may increase LDL cholesterol in a dose-dependent manner, except in people already on cholesterol medication. However, those effects were not seen when pterostilbene was combined with other flavonoids, so it's unclear what the true risk is.
As a general rule, use caution and if you have any concerns consider getting a blood test to check your values after 30 days.
The supplement routine I've laid out is meant as a starting point for the average person. It's not customized, and ideally you would want to use the Kaufmann Protocol to tackle aging pathways relevant to your family history or genetics.
It's also not cheap – the two products above will cost about $100 per month. However, for the quality and variety of compounds you're getting it's a fair price in the market. You may be able to make it slightly less expensive if you bought the compounds separately, but that adds to the complexity.
Do you have a simpler routine, or know of better anti-aging formulations? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.