David Sinclair Supplements List 2023
You may have come across his published, New York Times best-selling book on aging, “Lifespan: Why We Age – And Why We Don’t Have To”, going deeper into those subjects.
So what supplements does Professor David Sinclair take to live longer?
Keep in mind that to date, Dr. David Sinclair has made a point to not promote or endorse any supplement products. We compiled this list from interviews and books in which Professor David Sinclair mentions supplements he takes. We don’t know if he still takes these supplements, or whether he takes additional supplements that are not included on this list.
For example, in his book Lifespan, he mentions on page 304 that he takes NMN and resveratrol every morning, often mixed in his yogurt.
Based on multiple, recent interviews and his book, Dr. David Sinclair’s supplement stack probably looks as follows:
1. Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), 1g per day, in the morningOur view: We are enthusiastic about NMN.
NMN is a precursor to NAD+, an important metabolic molecule that many proteins need to properly carry out their function, like protecting and repairing our DNA and epigenome.
1000 mg is a high dose of NMN. 250 to 500 mg is also sufficient to benefit from NMN’s health and longevity promoting effects. In fact, studies done in humans with NMN use 250 mg per day (R,R).
It’s interesting to know that David Sinclair takes NMN and not NR (another much touted “longevity” supplement). Despite all the hype on the internet, NR does not extend lifespan (R). Professor Sinclair considers NMN to be superior to NR.
Related: NMN vs NR
2. Resveratrol, 1g per day, in the morningOur view: We are lukewarm about resveratrol. We believe pterostilbene is better.
Resveratrol is a stilbenoid found in the skin of grapes in low amounts. Studies have shown that resveratrol can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and neurodegeneration.
David Sinclair believes that resveratrol works synergistically with NMN. Resveratrol is needed to activate the sirtuin genes (which protect our DNA and epigenome), while NMN is needed to fuel the sirtuins.
However, resveratrol is difficult to be absorbed by the gut, and the little resveratrol that ends up in the body is broken down very quickly.
Therefore, pterostilbene is a better alternative. Pterostilbene is a molecule that looks very similar to resveratrol, but it is absorbed considerably better and is far more stable in the human body.
3. Metformin (prescription drug) 1 gram per day: 500 mg in the morning and 500 mg in the evening
In humans, we see that diabetics taking metformin actually live longer than healthy non-diabetics who obviously don’t take metformin (R). This was not the case for diabetics on other anti-diabetic drugs.
Taking metformin can, however, have side effects. In the short-term, metformin can cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal discomfort, which often subsides after a few weeks. In the long-term, metformin can reduce the uptake of vitamin B12.
Metformin probably works as a hormetic substance, meaning that it causes a little bit of damage to our cells so that our cells are put in a repair and protect modus. Metformin inhibits mitochondrial function, so the mitochondria will repair and protect themselves better.
Therefore, given exercise also “damages” the mitochondria somewhat (so that afterwards they will repair themselves, which is one of the health benefits of exercise) he does not combine metformin with exercise given that could put too much stress on the mitochondria. That is why Prof Sinclair does not take metformin on the days he exercises.
Also, recent studies suggest that perhaps very old people should not take metformin, given metformin causes too much stress on already very old and very stressed mitochondria (R).
We wrote an article about natural alternatives for metformin here.
Furthermore, David Sinclair takes metformin in the evening, before going to bed. He says this because during the night, the body is already in a fasting state and metformin could further advance this state.
However, we would recommend taking metformin always before the largest meal (ideally 20 minutes before mealtime). This way, metformin can make the body more insulin sensitive when it matters the most: during and in the hours after a meal, when mitochondria have to process the sugars and fats from the meal. This is also how metformin is ideally prescribed according to medical guidelines.
Furthermore, during the night, you are already in a fasting (insulin sensitive) state. It could be better to get the body more into an insulin sensitive state during the day too, especially when processing carbohydrates and fats after a meal.
David Sinclair takes 800 mg of metformin only once per day. We would prefer lower doses spread over the day, like 500 mg twice daily, before lunch (500 mg) and before dinner (500 mg) – not in the morning because this is when the body is already most insulin sensitive anyhow.
4. Vitamin D3Our view: We are positive about this vitamin.
Vitamin D can extend lifespan, at least in simple organisms (R). Vitamin D can reduce the risk of various aging-related diseases. Vitamin D deficiency in humans has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin D activates many genes that confer important health benefits (R).
The dose of vitamin D that most governments advise is too low (e.g. 400 to 800 IU per day). Most vitamin D experts advise to take at least 4000 to 5000 IU per day, and get your vitamin D levels checked at least every year.
5. Vitamin K2Our view: We like vitamin K (a lot).
Vitamin K is important not just for bone health, but also vascular and mitochondrial health. Vitamin K also improves skin appearance.
If you take vitamin D, you ideally also combine it with vitamin K2 (MK-7 is the best form): the two vitamins work synergistically.
Ideally, doses of vitamin K2 are 180 to 360 microgram per day.
However, taking only a few vitamins, like vitamin K and vitamin D, is not going to cut it: most people are deficient in many other vitamins, minerals and micronutrients, even when they eat healthy.
6. Statin (prescription drug) – taken since his early 20s due to family history of cardiovascular diseaseOur view: We are not big fans.
Some scientists claim you should take statins if you have an increased risk of getting a heart attack (known as “primary prevention”), while others claim that you should only take statins when you’ve already had a heart attack (as “secondary prevention”).
Other studies suggest that for many people, statins don’t work very well for primary prevention.
This will likely depend on your personal genetic make-up; we see that some people react much better to statins while others derive no effect (R).
Also, not all statins are the same. Some statins seem to be able to extend lifespan in mice (like simvastatin) while other statins do not have this effect. Also, statins can have side effects, like muscle aches or neuropathy (nerve pain), and some statins more than others.
After all, statins inhibit the production of cholesterol, a molecule that is an important component of our cell membranes, especially of neurons and muscle cells.
7. Low-dose aspirin – 83 mg per dayOur view: Neutral, but also a bit disappointed.
However, a recent large study that involved almost 20,000 participants and that lasted 4.7 years showed that a low dose of aspirin did not reduce cardiovascular disease and did not improve survival (R).
In fact, it even showed that it could actually increase cancer risk somewhat (R), despite many other studies showing that aspirin could have health and longevity benefits.
Further studies have to be conducted to sort this out.
8. Alpha lipoic AcidOur view: This antioxidant very likely does not extend lifespan in humans. In fact, it may actually even shorten lifespan.
Note: According to earlier sources, Dr. Sinclair mentioned taking alpha-lipoic acid. However, in recent interviews (done in 2022) David Sinclair didn’t specifically mention taking this supplement.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a strong antioxidant. There has been a bit of a hype around ALA, especially combined with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), to slow down aging.
However, there are various studies showing that ALA does not extend lifespan or slow down aging (R).
However, alpha lipoic acid is a strong antioxidant, and scientists have learned that antioxidants could actually accelerate aging (as we explain here).
So we should not be surprised to see that in studies in which aging mice receive alpha lipoic acid their lifespans are actually shortened (R,R).
This why alpha lipoic acid is one of the anti-aging supplements you should not take.
In short, we would be careful with taking supraphysiological doses (much greater than you’d ever find in a healthy diet) of antioxidants.
9. Coenzyme Q10Our view: This antioxidant probably cannot extend lifespan in humans. It could possibly even shorten lifespan.
Note: According to earlier sources, Dr. Sinclair mentioned taking coenzyme Q10. However, in recent interviews (done in 2022) David Sinclair didn’t specifically mention taking this supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant that improves mitochondrial functioning. There is insufficient scientific evidence (at least in well-conducted studies with the right disease model mice) that coenzyme Q10 can extend lifespan.
Various studies show that coenzyme Q10 does not extend lifespan (R,R,R,R). Some studies show that coenzyme Q10 can actually shorten lifespan (R).
Also, coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant. In recent years, scientists have learned that antioxidants can actually accelerate aging (for reasons described here). We would be cautious about taking strong antioxidants like coenzyme Q10 to extend lifespan.
That is also why we added coenzyme Q10 to the list of anti-aging supplements one should not take for longevity.
10. Spermidine, 1 mg per day, in the morningOur view: We think spermidine is an interesting molecule for longevity.
Spermidine is a molecule first found in sperm, hence its name. As a supplement, spermidine is extracted from wheat-germ. It can also be found in foods like cheese, soy, legumes, and mushrooms.
Spermidine can impact important aging-mechanisms, such as autophagy.
Studies have shown that spermidine can improve various biomarkers of health and longevity (R), and that spermidine can extend lifespan in different organisms, including mice (R).
11. Quercetin and fisetin, 500 mg each, once per day, in the morningOur view: we like fisetin more than quercetin. We would also reduce the dose.
Quercetin and fisetin are very similar molecules. They are often called “senolytics”, in the sense they are assumed they can clear away senescent cells.
Senescent cells are cells that accumulate during aging and secrete substances which damage normal healthy cells (learn more here).
However, we believe the main reason why molecules like fisetin can extend lifespan is because of other effects than being a “senolytic”, such as by reducing inflammation.
For this reason, we prefer fisetin taken in lower doses (100 mg per day) and in a continuous way, instead of in higher doses (e.g. 1000 mg or more) once every month in order to “clear” senescent cells.
We prefer fisetin more than quercetin. One reason is that there are more and better studies done with fisetin showing longevity effects, such as studies in mice demonstrating that fisetin extends lifespan (R).
12. TMG (trimethylglycine or betaine)Our view: combining TMG with NMN makes sense, but we prefer phosphatidylcholine (or a combination of TMG with phosphatidylcholine).
Dr. David Sinclair mentioned in podcasts that he takes TMG (trimethylglycine) to err on the safe side regarding the possibility of NMN reducing methylation in the body.
Methyl groups are small molecules that are put on DNA, proteins and substances in order for them to work properly.
For example, methylated DNA (DNA covered with methyl molecules) prevents that DNA from being active (learn more about the epigenome here). Methyl molecules are also sometimes linked to specific substances in order for them to be broken down.
NMN is used by cells to create NAD+, a molecule pivotal for health. However, when NAD+ is used by the body, nicotinamide is formed. This molecule needs to be disposed of. In order to do so, a methyl group is placed on nicotinamide so it can be secreted by the kidneys.
So if people take a lot of NMN, lots of methyl groups could be used.
TMG provides methyl groups (TMG consists of 3 methyl groups per TMG molecule). We agree with David Sinclair that adding TMG could be worthwhile. A proper dose would be, for example, 500 mg to 1 gram of TMG per day.
However, some people experience gastro-intestinal issues from TMG, or have difficulty sleeping after taking it. Therefore, as alternatives, one can take phosphatidylcholine, which can also deliver methyl groups. It also improves brain health and cognition.
One can also drink green tea when taking NMN. Green tea contains EGCG, which inhibits the enzyme that puts methyl groups on nicotinamide (the enzyme is called “NNMT”). This way, less methyl groups are used to methylate nicotinamide.
OTHER THINGS DAVID SINCLAIR DOES TO LIVE LONGER
He knows very well that nutrition, exercise, proper sleep and stress reduction are also very important methods to extend lifespan. How does he go about this?
1. NutritionDavid Sinclair often eats only 2 meals per day instead of 3 meals.
He drinks lots of green tea and very little alcohol.
He eats little (red) meat, and consumes lots of vegetables.
Professor Sinclair is a proponent of regular fasting.
We wrote more about Sinclair’s longevity regimen here.
You can read more about the best longevity diet (and download the poster!) here.
2. ExerciseRegarding exercise, David Sinclair runs once or twice a week, both in a low intensity and high-intensity way. He also does weight lifting once or twice a week.
3. Health trackingProfessor Sinclair uses a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to track how the foods he eats increase his blood sugar levels.
Examples of continuous glucose monitors are FreeStyle Libre or Levels (not sponsored).
He also does regular blood tests to track his health. We wrote about the best blood tests for longevity here.
CONCLUSIONWe think that the list of supplements that David Sinclair is not bad, but can be further improved.
In this regard, we make the distinction between longevity supplements and health supplements.
Longevity supplements, like NMN, micro-dosed lithium or calcium alpha-ketoglutarate, could actually slow down aging.
Health supplements enable our body to work properly: deficiencies of them could accelerate aging.
MORE ABOUT DAVID SINCLAIR
- “Has Harvard’s David Sinclair Found the Fountain of Youth?” (Boston Magazine)
- Anti-Aging Approaches (Harvard Magazine)
- Why This Harvard Researcher Thinks We “Don’t Have To” Age (InStyle)
- David Sinclair’s Harvard Medical School laboratory