Biohackers and health optimization pros take supplements. A lot of them. Supplements for:
- Optimal nutrition
- Sleep enhancement
I've personally taken and tested over 137 supplements, ingredients, and compounds.
Some I take on a daily basis. More often, however, I take them a few times, and the container sits untouched in a closet.
My personal stack has come from many iterations of testing the recommendations of the world's foremost experts and formulators. In this post, we'll explore my core biohacking supplements with the most widespread benefits.
Top Biohacking & Personalized Nutrition Supplements
Proper regimens both fill any dietary gaps and boost health and performance even further.
Of course, the best biohacking supplement regimen is bio-individual, advanced, and personalized. Certain ingredients, however, work great for most people.
Magnesium (Glycinate, Malate, or Chloride)
Virtually all modern humans suffer from magnesium deficiency. The body uses magnesium for hundreds of processes, including:
- Energy generation
- Cellular and DNA repair
- Natural anti-anxiety, boosting mood, and improving mental health
- Increasing athletic performance
- Muscle relaxation and sleep enhancement
It seems that magnesium is involved with everything. From a book dedicated to the supplement, I discovered magnesium has dozens of health benefits.
I take magnesium every single day. Usually in three forms:
- Magnesium malate in the morning
- Magnesium glycinate in the evening
- Magnesium chloride (spray) after exercise or immediately before bed
Berberine or Dihydroberberine
Consuming junk foods causes two glaring issues: inflammation, and blood sugar spikes.
Sometimes I indulge in high-carb foods. Before the rare pizza or ice cream, I do preemptive damage control. A supplement called berberine controls both blood sugar and reduces inflammation. I've tested over a dozen of the best glucose disposal agents (GDAs).
I quantified my experiment with the NutriSense continuous glucose monitor. Berberine won by a landslide.
Then in 2021, I discovered the upgraded version called dihydroberberine (DHB). DHB is stronger, longer-lasting, and more effective than normal berberine. In my next NutriSense experiment, I will compare the normal berberine to DHB, and also liposomal berberine.
NAD Precursors (like NMN)
“…without the presence of NAD+, we would probably die in 30 seconds.”
NAD is the closest known fountain of youth. The world's most prominent longevity and anti-aging researcher named David Sinclair regularly supplements several precursors to NAD. I've previously written about natural NAD boosters.
Benefits of increasing NAD include:
- Improved mental clarity
- Greater energy
- Enhances mood
- Repairs damaged cells
- Improves sleep
- Restores mitochondria
- Protects metabolism
- Improves muscle function and exercise capacity
- Slows aging
Once you optimize the basics, two precursors have recently surged in popularity: nicotinamide riboside (NR), and nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN). More animal research supports the former, and I originally compiled a list of the best NR products.
I personally take liposomal and intranasal NMN as it is more stable, more effective, and the favorite of researchers.
Spirulina & Chlorella
Algae is the original yet forgotten superfood. Declared the “answer to world hunger” by the United Nations, and a key food for NASA's space program. Ounce for ounce, spirulina and chlorella lead any superfood list in terms of nutrient density. Both contain over 40 vitamins and minerals.
Spirulina is a performance powerhouse. 20-30 little tablets can fuel workouts, stave off appetite and hunger, increase energy, and flood the body with a rich source of bioavailable essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. It's also the original source of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Unlike fish, spirulina doesn't go rancid and oxidize before it reaches you.
Proponents of chlorella, on the other-hand, turn to it for safe and natural detoxification and recovery. Chlorella contains the most chlorophyll of any food. It pulls lactate out of muscles, and speeds up recovery time from workouts and injury alike. After a long night of drinking, a small handful of tablets helps the body breakdown toxins from the alcohol, hydrates with trace minerals, bolsters the immune system, and even sobers me up.
You can buy them separately as pressed tablets or powder, or get them compounded. For greater control over dosage, I get the tablets separately. But 50/50 blends are common and convenient. Make sure to buy for organic, cold-pressed, non-GMO as algae is a bioremedient that accumulates heavy metals and contaminants. For more information and the best products for every budget, see my beginner's guide to spirulina and chlorella.
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Hydrogen is the smallest gas molecule in the universe. Its minuscule size allows it to penetrate and improve every organ and cell in the body. Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a selective antioxidant, letting beneficial free radicals like nitric oxide continue functioning, while quelling problematic free radicals.
Benefits of supplementing H2 include:
- Offsetting damage of constant stress
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Lowering inflammation
- Increasing mental clarity
- Slowing neurodegeneration
- Boosting NAD levels
- Minimizing EMF-induced damage
Used originally in Japanese hospitals in the 1990s, now over 1,500 studies support use in both healthy folks and aiding in 170 different diseases.
I take it whenever I'm sleep-deprived, sore from a brutal workout, or will be in a biologically stressful environment (like plane travel).
The two primary hydrogen therapy technologies include water generating machines, and tablets. I prefer tablets for convenience, price, and potency. DrinkHRW makes the strongest tablets on the market. Get a great deal on the ones I take using the exclusive DrinkHRW discount code URBAN.
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Before I researched creatine, I associated it with big bulky bodybuilders and drug-abusing athletes. As I looked into it, however, I discovered that it's among the most well-studied sports nutrition supplements ever. Evidence suggests that it's one of the most impactful, safe, cheap, and over-the-counter physical performance enhancers available. From increasing lean body mass, power output, to boosting anaerobic running capacity (sprinting).
Creatine has a whole other side impacting energy generation. Greater energy generation in the brain and overall hydration increases cognitive performance. Over a decade ago, creatine was one of the first nootropics I took. It also has detoxification benefits. Not everyone responds as well, so test it for yourself.
Vitamin A + D3 + K2 Complex
These are the three most common vitamin deficiencies.
Vitamin D is a misnomer. It's actually a pro-hormone. Prohormones are substances that the body converts to a hormone. Inadequate vitamin D is associated with depression, allergies, shorter telomeres (faster aging), weakened immune system, skin health complications, blunted exercise recovery, and decreased testosterone. Vitamin D is involved in over 1,000 biological processes.
Without vitamin K, however, it increases the absorption of calcium. A major risk of vitamin D toxicity is hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood). To prevent this, vitamin K2 and magnesium should always accompany vitamin D.
Though not necessary to take alongside vitamin D and vitamin K, vitamin A is great for vision, skin, bones, and other tissues. Vegan and vegetarian foods contain beta-carotene, which is poorly converted into vitamin A. If you aren’t eating organ meats (beef liver, kidney, and heart), you're missing this essential metabolic cofactor.
I get all three fat-soluble vitamins conveniently packaged in a single product.
Turmeric + Curcumin
Every day at one meal, I'll incorporate a pinch of turmeric, a crush of black pepper, and healthy fat into my sauce. Turmeric is a rhizome in the ginger family, and it's a staple in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. Curcumin, the primary active ingredient in turmeric, blocks the production of inflammatory cells and proteins.
So why do I prefer turmeric over Curcumin extracts?
In short, turmeric is far more than Curcumin (about 5 percent of the plant).
Turmerosaccharides are water-soluble bioactive polysaccharides extracted about 95 percent of the turmeric plant. Though less known, turmerosaccharides greatly improve joint health, reduce overuse problems, protect cartilage, increase collagen, and reduce both chronic and acute inflammation.
Turmeric contains many compounds with antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and detoxifying properties.
Unless you grew up on it, you probably don't savor organ meats.
Sometimes called offal, organ meats are some of the densest sources of particular nutrients. Depending on the cut, these include vitamins A, D, E, K, B-vitamins, minerals like iron, magnesium, selenium, copper, coenzyme Q10, taurine, and zinc. If you're daring enough to try it, brain even contains DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids.
In fact, many call organ meats “nature's multivitamin”.
They're also exceptionally high in protein, providing all nine essential amino acids.
Frozen and desiccated organ meat capsules also contain the brain-boosting nutrient called choline.
I generally eat organ meats once per week, but otherwise I would supplement it.
Alpha-GPC is a more advanced biohacking supplement. It's a naturally occurring source of choline, which is used by the brain to produce the learning, memory, and movement neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Most popular brain-boosting nootropic supplement formulas either include Alpha-GPC or its cousins.
In addition to improving learning, memory, reaction time, and focus, Alpha-GPC has athletic performance benefits too. These include greater power output, increased fat burning, and producing more growth hormone. Great before a big workout or cognitively demanding day.
Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are the raw buildings blocks of neurotransmitters and life. Key to mental and physical performance. For years, athletes swore by a subset of essential amino acids called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). BCAA's, however, contain just 3 of the 22 amino acids.
EAAs stimulate growth and repair better than whey protein. Amino acids also:
- Improve bone mineralization
- Increase lean body mass
- Boosts brainpower (tryptophan is later converted to serotonin)
- Improves metabolic health
- Better sleep
- Accelerate weight loss
- Elevates energy
Even health optimizers are often deficient in one or more aminos. Whether you're a Type-A office worker or athlete, check out this post for the science behind essential amino acids.
If I'm not consuming algae, on workout days I'll take essential amino acids.
One of the most commonly prescribed adaptogenic herbs, Ashwagandha is a favorite of naturopathic doctors around the world. Adaptogens like Ashwagandha bring bodily systems back into their optimal state (homeostasis). Today, that generally means normalizing cortisol and the stress hormone response.
Some of the popular benefits of Ashwagandha include:
- Promoting longevity
- Improving mitochondrial health
- Slowing the aging process
- Increasing vitality
- Reducing acute and chronic stress
- Improving overall well-being
- Increasing energy levels
I take it daily in my morning “mud water” drink that consists of a number of adaptogens and longevity-boosting compounds. I use whole root powder, but make sure to purchase a product that's standardized to 5% withanolides (the primary active ingredient) or more.
Rhodiola is another popular adaptogenic herb that pairs nicely with Ashwagandha. Where Ashwagandha is considered the more “yin” restorative and calming herb, Rhodiola is the “yang” stimulating and resilience-building adaptogen.
- Subtly alleviates fatigue
- Reducing burnout
- Improving cognition
- Deepening focus and attention
- Speeding up exercise recovery
- Improving productivity
- Boosting mood
- Lengthening lifespan
- Reducing binge eating
- Helping lift anxiety
Rosavin and salidroside are the two primary active ingredients in Rhodiola Rosea. In products, look for standardization to at least 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside.
Rhodiola Rosea is another core ingredient in my morning adaptogenic cocktail.
Disclaimer: Science Biologics products are not intended for human consumption and are for research purposes only.
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Lion's mane is the ultimate mushroom for the brain and nervous system. Naturopathic practitioners consider it one of the functional adaptogenic mushrooms.
The Chinese have used it for centuries. After playing American Football and Rugby for over a decade, and as a Brain Coach, I'm constantly studying the best nootropics to heal the brain. This one ticks many of the boxes.
Benefits of the Lion's Mane mushroom include:
- Increasing nerve growth
- Quelling inflammation in the brain
- Regenerating the nervous system
- Improving memory, focus, and mood
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Balancing the immune system
- Strengthening the microbiome
- Stabilizing blood sugar
- Slowing cognitive decline
- Helping regrow damaged nerves
Researchers believe that compounds called hericenones and erinacines exert most of the neurological health benefits of Lion's Mane.
Though I take several other adaptogenic mushrooms as well, if I could only choose one it'd be Lion's Mane.
Lion's Mane is one of the core ingredients in my Genius Coffee recipe. I feel a slight pick-me-up over my usual coffee, and Lion's Mane increases the effectiveness of my learning and studying sessions. When purchasing it, look for dual extraction using the fruiting body (and not mycelium).
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Next up, Cordyceps is an unlikely candidate for a health supplement. If you can get over the fact that it's a parasitic fungus that infects ants, this is an awesome exercise performance enhancer. It works by increasing cellular energy (ATP), and lowering lactic acid. Garnering it reputation as the anti-fatigue supplement.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers it a special tonic.
It's still used to this day:
Coach Ma Junren credited his athletes' record-breaking success to a tonic of Cordyceps sinensis
The original strain of wild Cordyceps Sinensis costs over $20,000 per kilogram.
Luckily, innovative companies have found that a related strain, Cordyceps Militaris, is an affordable substitute. With up to 90 times more of the primary active ingredient, cordycepin, than the wild variety.
Benefits of the Cordyceps mushroom include:
- Improved respiration (VO2 max)
- Better metabolic health
- Supports recovery (antioxidant)
- Reduces tiredness
- Modulates inflammation
- Improves cellular oxygen delivery
- Supports healthy testosterone levels
- Reduces harm of overtraining
- Enhances libido and sexual performance
- Stabilizes blood sugar
Scientists believe that the anti-fatigue benefits come from the polysaccharides and cordycepin, in Cordyceps.
I add Cordyceps to my homemade pre-workout for a noticeable boost in energy and physical performance. When choosing a Cordyceps product, ensure it's extracted from the mushroom “fruiting body”.
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Bonus: Nootropic Formula
In many ways, our brains are the central governor of our quality of life. Upgrade your brain, and you'd live a richer life.
Nootropics are a class of ingredients (supplements and foods) that enhance cognitive performance in healthy folks.
I've yet to find magic pills granting superhuman powers.
On big days, however, when I need an extra boost, I'll turn to special nootropic ingredients and formulated products. The right compounds or blends can help:
- Alleviate brain fog
- Supercharge productivity
- Improve memory
- Maximize motivation
- Amplify energy
- Enhance logical reasoning
- Augment creativity
- Increase social confidence
- Boost mood
- Sharpen focus and concentration
Many of my favorite ingredients are natural (some of them are listed above in this list). Other popular nootropics are man-made.
I wrote about some of my top recommendations in several posts:
- Top over-the-counter Adderall alternatives for productivity
- Alternatives to Modafinil for biohackers
- Powerful nootropic drinks
Nootropic stacks give you the convenience and synergistic benefits of precisely dosed ingredients. My favorite pre-made nootropics include:
So far, Thesis is the best-value all-in-one nootropic product.
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Finding Your Optimal Biohacking Supplements
I hope that this list has been helpful. The best supplement regimen starts by directly addressing deficiencies. Filling any deficiencies makes adaptogens, longevity molecules, and other fancy supplements work better.
If I could only choose five, as I often do when I travel, I'd pick:
- Algae (spirulina and chlorella)
- Magnesium glycinate (or malate)
Of course, you're not limited to five, and what works best for you will take some testing.
While these are some of my favorite overall biohacking supplements, I take others to:
- Re-vitalize the body
- Dramatically boost energy
- Sharpen the mind
- Increase motivation
- Slow the aging process
- Protect the brain
- Rapidly build muscle and shed body fat
- Drop into the flow state
Am I missing any? What supplements do you take?