David Sinclair is a professor at Harvard University who has been studying aging for the better part of his academic career.
Dr. David Sinclair’s main research interest is the epigenetics of aging, with a focus on epigenetic reprogramming of aging (e.g. via Yamanaka factors), NAD+ metabolism and sirtuins, and NAD+ precursors like NR and NMN.
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 (you can find our favorite longevity books here).
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:
Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), 1g per day, in the morning
Our view: We are enthusiastic about NMN.
NMN has been shown to slow down many aspects of aging in animal studies (R,R,R,R). 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.
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).
Learn more about the differences between NMN and NR here.
Resveratrol, 1g per day, in the morning
Our 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.
Metformin (prescription drug) 1 gram per day: 500 mg in the morning and 500 mg in the evening
Our view: We are cautiously optimistic about metformin, keeping in mind some caveats.
Metformin has shown to extend lifespan in various organisms, including mammals (R,R). 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.
Our 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 2000 IU per day, and get your vitamin D levels checked at least every year.
Our 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.
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.
Learn more about the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients everyone should take here.
Statin (prescription drug) – taken since his early 20s due to family history of cardiovascular disease
Our view: We are not big fans.
Statins could lower the risk of heart disease. But there is a lot of discussion about how significant the effect of a statin is on reducing the cardiovascular risk.
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.
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.
Low-dose aspirin – 83 mg per day
Our view: Neutral, but also a bit disappointed.
A low dose aspirin could reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of heart attacks, and perhaps the risk of cancer.
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 (R) and did not improve survival.
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.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Our view: This antioxidant very likely does not extend lifespan in humans. In fact, it may actually even shorten lifespan.
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).
In short, we would be careful with taking supraphysiological doses (much greater than you’d ever find in a healthy diet) of antioxidants.
Our view: This antioxidant probably cannot extend lifespan in humans. It could possibly even shorten lifespan.
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.
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.
OTHER THINGS DAVID SINCLAIR DOES TO LIVE LONGER
Of course, Dr. David Sinclair does not only rely on supplements to live longer and healthier. 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?
David Sinclair often eats only 2 meals per day instead of 3 meals. He drinks lots of green tea. He eats little (red) meat, and consumes lots of vegetables. Professor Sinclair is a proponent of regular fasting.
Regarding 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.
We 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.
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
- Watch David Sinclair’s Google Talk: