Despite being 50 years of age, David looks much younger. Given that his focus is on tackling aging and he appears to exemplify this work – it’s natural to ask – what’s his secret?
One thing David is fast to point out is that he’s a scientist – not a medical doctor, and doesn’t give health recommendations or endorse brands. Respecting that, this post will only look at what David does, noting that he isn’t recommending others do the same.
- Resveratrol – 1g/daily – mornings with yogurt
- NMN – 1g/daily – mornings
- Metformin (prescription drug) – 1g/daily – 0.5g in the morning & 0.5g at night – except on days when exercising
- Vitamins? Aims to get the majority from the diet, but does supplement a few including vitamin D & K2
- Statin (prescription drug) – taken since his early 20s due to a family history of cardiovascular disease
- Aspirin – 83mg daily
- Coffee in the morning (once per day), then green tea after that
- Intermittent fasting – aims to skip at least 1 meal per day. Helped by lots of green tea
- Keeps meat consumption low, and avoids red meat. Will eat meat on workout days
- Eats as little sugar, bread or pasta as possible. Stopped eating deserts at age 40, except for a “small taste” occasionally
- Aims to eat lots of vegetables
- Running 1-2x/week low impact and high intensity (using a curved treadmill such as a Woodway)
- Weight lifting 1-2x/week
- Sauna weekly
- He doesn’t smoke and avoids microwaved plastic, excessive sun exposure, X-rays, and CT scans
- Aims to keep his BMI in the optimal range for healthspan, which for him he says is 23 to 25
- Tries to stay “on the cool side” during the day, and at night when sleeping
What do Resveratrol & NMN do in relation to living longer?
David describes resveratrol and NMN as critical for the activation of sirtuin genes. Sirtuins play a key role in functions that help us to live longer – such as DNA repair.
He describes resveratrol as the “accelerator pedal” for the sirtuin genes (increasing their activation), and NMN as the fuel. Without “fuel”, resveratrol won’t work. The reason that resveratrol won’t work effectively without NMN, is that sirtuin activation requires youthful NAD levels, but by 50 years old, we have about half the level of NAD we had in our 20s (NAD being a molecule that is essential to energy production in our cells).
So in effect, you take resveratrol to increase activation of the sirtuin genes, and NMN to ensure the sirtuins have enough energy to work properly.
Below we’ll dig deeper into the 3 longevity supplements David takes; NMN, Resveratrol & Metformin.
Resveratrol is a molecule that’s found (in small amounts) in the skin of foods like grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts. If you remember the “hype” some time ago around red wine is healthy, part of that came because it contains tiny amounts of resveratrol. Unfortunately, all food sources contain tiny amounts, so we need to supplement it in order to see benefits.
Resveratrol is though to act as a “caloric restriction mimetic“, which activates beneficial cellular pathways. Studies have pointed to benefits such as:
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy people1
- Improvements in memory tasks for obese, but otherwise healthy 50-75 year olds2
- Improvements in metabolic and cardiovascular markers, in people with obesity3, hypertension, type 2 diabetes4567, fatty liver disease89 and cardiovascular disease1011.
Resveratrol – Where to buy?
Whilst David’s resveratrol comes from excess product leftover from lab experiments, not all of us have this luxury! Therefore we are forced to look online. If you pop resveratrol into an Amazon search, you’ll find a host of different options, many of (potentially) dubious quality.
The first thing to note is that we should be looking for trans-resveratrol, not cis-resveratrol.
Next, the purity of the trans-resveratrol is important, we’re looking for 98%+. David mentions this at 1:17:54 of his Ben Greenfield interview, noting that 50% purity can even give diarrhea because there’s other stuff that comes along with the molecule. He also confirms that Polygonum cuspidatum (Japanese Knotweed) is a good source for the resveratrol.
To get closer to the quality that David is likely taking, we can look at research published by an old company of his; Sirtris (who were sold to GSK for $720 million). In this paper they were doing clinical tests on a formulation of resveratrol they call SRT501. Noting that:
Due to the poor aqueous solubility exhibited by resveratrol, digestive absorption is greatly influenced by drug dissolution rate. In an effort to increase absorption across the gastro-intestinal tract and thus systemically available parent compound, there has been considerable interest in the pharmaceutical manipulation of resveratrol. Decreasing the particle size of such chemicals can improve their rate of dissolution and thus their absorption. Therefore, the aim of this clinical study was to investigate whether consumption of SRT501, a micronized resveratrol formulation designed by Sirtris, a GSK Company is safe and generates measurable and pharmacologically active levels of parent agent in the circulation and in the liver.
That’s a wordy quote from the paper, but in essence, they were testing a micronized resveratrol formulation against a non-micronized version. Their study found that levels of resveratrol in the blood were 3.6x greater when using the micronized formulation, and other markers they were comparing also improved.
We see this with other molecules too; where reducing particle size increases bioavailability. For example with curcumin, whose absorption can be improved through micronization (for example Theracurmin). So this makes sense.
David takes his resveratrol in the morning, mixed into a spoon of homemade yogurt, in order to increase its bio-availability.
His studies showed that without fat, resveratrol absorption was 5x lower. So consumption with yogurt (or another fat source) is important. David clarified on the recent podcast with Rhonda Patrick that the NMN doesn’t need to be taken with a fat source – he specifically mentions taking his NMN in capsules, downed with a glass of water in the morning.
Of course, you don’t need to make your own yogurt, a store-bought version will work adequately. However, if you’re interested to make your own version – expand the box below to learn more.
NMN falls into a category of supplements, along with Nicotinamide Riboside (NR), referred to as “NAD boosters” – which have become increasingly popular.
NAD is required for every cell of our body to help facilitate energy production. As we age, the amount of NAD our cells produce declines and less NAD = reduced cellular function. According to David, at 50, you have about half as much NAD as at age 20.
The hope is that by supplementing precursors we can boost the cellular level of NAD closer to youthful levels.
There’s little to no doubt in the research community that we need to restore NAD function, but the jury is still out on what the best method will be. Currently, David has his eggs in the basket of NMN.
NMN – Where to buy?
David’s NMN powder comes from excess product leftover from lab experiments. This is good to know but doesn’t help us when it comes to sourcing some. Below we will look at various possible buying options.
Potential considerations when buying include:
- Accuracy – is the product you’re getting actually NMN?
- Purity – assuming it is NMN, how pure is it? 98%… 99%…?
- Contaminants – does it contain any contaminants such as heavy metals?
- Fillers – are any fillers used?
What does David think of Nicotinamide Riboside (NR)?
Nicotinamide Riboside is a precursor to NAD, similar to NMN. David states in his book that his lab finds:
- NMN a more stable molecule than NR
- NMN is able to do some things in mice studies that NR can’t
That being said, he isn’t against NR, he’s just more optimistic on NMN being the better molecule for raising NAD in the long run. He notes in a blog post on NMN & NR that:
- The science is further along for NR, but it’s too early to say which is better for humans.
Metformin – Where to buy?
Metformin is a prescription drug and thus needs to be acquired through a doctor’s prescription, at least in most countries. It isn’t (yet) considered a drug that can help improve health span or lifespan, and so you may need to find a forward-thinking doctor if you want it prescribed for general health. Typically doctors only prescribe Metformin for blood sugar control issues (type 2 diabetes).
Metformin – How often to take?
Typically Metformin is taken daily – both by diabetics and by people using it for healthspan extension. However, in the latest interview with Joe Rogan, they discussed a 2018 paper that showed metformin inhibits mitochondrial adaptations to aerobic exercise training. David explained that this makes sense, and it’s exactly metformin’s inhibition of mitochondrial function that leads to some of the health benefits. Specifically, they cause the cell to think it’s in a nutrient restricted state, and it turns on pathways typically reserved for times of scarcity. The function of these pathways is hypothesized to lead to better healthspan outcomes.
When not exercising, which is most days for David, he opts to take 0.5g of metformin in the morning and 0.5g in the evening (for source, see 1:16:45 of his Ivy Lecture, which supersedes what he said in his book). Then on exercise days, he opts not to take it at all.
Other Supplements David Takes
Whilst David generally tries to get all the vitamins and minerals he needs from his diet, he does still take some supplements daily. Specifically, he’s discussed taking:
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin K2
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
- Coenzyme Q10
- David is a longevity researcher who is certainly aging gracefully!