Dave Asprey is a biohacker and health enthusiast. He is founder of the Bulletproof brand and creator of the ever popular trend, Bulletproof Coffee. Dave also writes a popular blog and hosts his own podcast.
The following is a review of the supplements that David Asprey takes in the hopes of living a longer, healthier life.
We cannot guarantee that David Asprey is (still) taking these supplements. We base our list on his blog posts, books, podcasts and interviews.
We regularly update this list and our assessment of each supplement. You can subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated about our longevity content.
Anti-aging supplements Dave Asprey takes
1. Nicotinamide riboside
Dave Asprey recommends taking nicotinamide riboside (NR) for anti-aging.
However, recent studies have shown that NR does not extend lifespan in normal, healthy animals (R).
In fact, most NR when taken orally is broken down in the gut into niacinamide (vitamin B3).
The very little NR that is absorbed intact from the gut in the bloodstream, is also very quickly converted into niacinamide in the liver. So very little nicotinamide riboside reaches the cells.
This means that when you take NR you in fact take an expensive vitamin B3 supplement (niacinamide).
Furthermore, given oral NR causes high peaks of niacinamide in the blood, this could actually inhibit sirtuins (R,R,R). Sirtuins are important substances that repair and protect the DNA and epigenome.
Glutathione is an antioxidant. It’s a tripeptide, meaning it’s composed of 3 amino acids. Glutathione occurs naturally in the body and helps cells to protect themselves against free radicals. After all, that’s what antioxidants do.
However, many studies have shown that most antioxidants don’t really work to extend lifespan.
Some antioxidants can even shorten lifespan, while other studies show that often reviled free radicals (the “deleterious” molecules that antioxidants neutralize) can actually extend lifespan, or confer health benefits (R,R,R,R) — in the right doses.
We explain more about the disappointing effects of antioxidants here.
We also have a list of antioxidants you should not take for anti-aging.
Another problem with glutathione is that it cannot be absorbed by the gut in one piece. When taken orally, our digestive system cuts the glutathione up into its individual amino acids (glutamate, cysteine and glycine).
Some scientists speculate that this is not necessarily a bad thing, given this way you provide the building blocks (amino acids) to create glutathione in your own cells.
While there are some studies showing that glutathione can improve lifespan, often these studies are not very high-quality. More recent studies show that substances like glutathione and even their precursors, like cysteine, can shorten lifespan (R).
All in all, lifespan studies with glutathione and many other antioxidants have been disappointing.
Regarding glutathione specifically, we believe the data is not yet clear enough to conclude whether or not it is beneficial for longevity purposes.
Fisetin can slow down aging in various ways. For example, by clearing senescent cells, and by reducing inflammation.
We explain more about the longevity effects of fisetin here.
Various scientific studies show that collagen, when taken orally, can improve joint health and wrinkles. It’s important to take hydrolyzed collagen, as we explain here.
5. PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone)
PQQ is a strong antioxidant. As we explained earlier, most antioxidants do not extend lifespan and some can even increase mortality (at least according to well-conducted studies).
There are some small studies that show that PQQ can extend lifespan in C elegans, but so have coenzyme Q10 and many other antioxidants that have later been shown to not extend lifespan in larger, better conducted experiments (R,R). Other studies show that when coenzyme Q10 is downregulated, organisms actually live longer (R,R,R).
However, PQQ could also exert other effects in cells besides being an antioxidant. We currently believe there is not enough evidence that PQQ can extend lifespan.
6. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR)
This molecule can be found in our cells, including the mitochondria.
Studies show that acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) can improve some health aspects, like muscle performance, metabolism, energy levels, nerve damage (neuropathy) and perhaps slowing down the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Regarding lifespan extension, there is less scientific evidence. There are other supplements that have better science behind them demonstrating they can slow down aging, as we explain here.
7. Vitamin D
The amount Dave Asprey recommends is 5000 units of vitamin D, which is a good dose. Most supplements contain too little vitamin D (for example around 400 units of vitamin D per day), which is too low according to many vitamin D specialists.
Ideally, one takes around 2000 to 5000 units of vitamin D per day. Even with these high doses, there is very little risk of excess accumulation of vitamin D in the long term. Nonetheless, you can do a blood test every year to measure vitamin D levels to be sure.
8. Vitamin K2
If you take vitamin D, you need to combine this with vitamin K. Vitamin D and vitamin K work synergistically.
There are two forms of vitamin K: vitamin K1, found in plant-based foods like kale, spinach, broccoli, brussels sprouts, etc., and vitamin K2, found in fermented or animal-based foods.
David Asprey’s vitamin K supplement contains only vitamin K2. Ideally, you also make sure you take enough vitamin K1, allowing the gut microbiome the convert vitamin K1 in many different versions of vitamin K2, like vitamin K2-MK4, vitamin K2-MK6, vitamin K2-MK7, vitamin K2-MK9 and so on.
David Aspreys supplement only contains vitamin K2-MK4 and vitamin K2-MK7 — which although better than what the vast majority of people do, can be further improved by the inclusion of K1.
This can also be accomplished by consuming every day lot’s of vitamin K1 rich foods, like kale, spinach, broccoli and brussels sprouts, for example in a smoothie, while supplementing with a broad spectrum vitamin K2 supplement, that contains many different menaquinones, including MK-4, MK-6, MK-7 and MK-9.
We know that Dave Asprey is very anti-kale, but nonetheless all studies have shown that people who eat lots of green leafy vegetables such as kale, live longer and have healthier brains and bodies than those who don’t.
9. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an interesting vitamin. This substance is needed for healthy epithelial tissues (these are the cells that line our skin and gut for example), a healthy immune system and supports eye health, among many other things.
There are two kinds of vitamin A: plant-based vitamin A (carotenoids) and animal-based vitamin A (retinoids).
It’s the retinoid form of vitamin A that is the bioactive form that our cells need.
Likely, a lot of people consuming a western diet don’t have enough animal vitamin A. After all, vitamin A is often found in the liver, but very few people eat organ meat nowadays.
Furthermore, plant-based vitamin A (e.g. taken through the consumption of carrots, pumpkin and other vegetables) is not always properly converted into retinoids.
A good dose is around 2500 units of vitamin A (e.g. retinyl palmitate) per day. Vitamin A is one of the must-have supplements in our recommended daily supplement stack.
10. Zinc and copper
These are important minerals. However, it’s important not to take too much zinc and copper, given high levels can damage cells.
Also, zinc inhibits the absorption of copper and vice versa, so it’s important to make sure you take both of them separately.
We explain more about the best supplements to take here.
11. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an interesting substance for longevity. It’s often claimed that vitamin C is healthy because it’s an antioxidant.
However, vitamin C exerts various health effects via many other mechanisms. For example, by improving mitochondrial metabolism and by being an epigenetic substance (you can learn more about vitamin C and longevity here).
The epigenome determines which genes are switched on and off. When we get older, this system goes awry.
Vitamin C can help the epigenome to better maintain itself. For this, vitamin C also works together with alpha-ketoglutarate, a substance that improves the epigenome, and that has shown to extend lifespan.
One of Dave Asprey’s own brands of supplements that he himself takes is Eye Armor, containing various antioxidants and carotenoids.
As we explained before, most antioxidants don’t slow down aging and some of them can even accelerate aging.
Carotenoids are substances found in orange vegetables like carrots and pumpkins. However, taking carotenoids via supplements has shown to have various detrimental effects on health, such as increasing the risk of cancer (R,R,R).
Likely this is because the carotenoids in supplements prevent the absorption of other carotenoids in our foods, given they all use the same receptor and thus have to compete for the same receptor.
13. Whey protein
Whey protein is a milk-derived, animal-based protein.
Despite this, many people still advise high animal protein diets. Of course, if you follow a high-protein diet (which also mainly involves cutting back on carbs) you will feel better in the short term, and lose weight at that too.
This might be good for you in the short-term if you’re very overweight and have cardiovascular or metabolic risks. But in the long term, too much animal protein accelerates aging. Therefore, we don’t recommend whey protein for anti-aging purposes.
14. Smart Mode supplement
Another supplement that Dave Asprey sells and that he takes himself is Smart Mode. It contains citicholine, theacrine, rosemary, artichoke leaf extract, pantothenic acid and n-acetyl l-tyrosine.
We however prefer to take rosemary and artichoke as a whole food. That way, it’s fresher (less oxidation and other kinds of damage) and contains various co-factors that improve absorption and efficacy.
Pantothenic acid is a B vitamin. However, we prefer to take a B vitamin complex, given that many B vitamins work together synergistically, as we explain here.
Dave Asprey says he takes this supplement every day; mainly to improve brain function, less for longevity.
We agree that it is very important to make sure you take enough iodine. Many people are deficient in iodine, even despite having a “normal” blood test.
Iodine is important for proper metabolism, brain health, prostate health (in men) and breast health (in women)
The daily recommended dose that most governments advise (around 150 ug per day) is likely significantly too low.
Some medical doctors therefore advise to take a dose of iodine that is closer to 1000 ug per day.
Make sure you take both iodine and iodide (as in droplets).
16. Krill oil
Krill oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are paramount for health. They improve heart health, immune health, eye health and brain health.
The problem however is that most omega-3 supplements are bad quality (containing impurities) and are too oxidized (having a high TOTOX value).
It’s important to make sure you take high-quality omega-3 fatty acids. We don’t know whether Dave Asprey supplements incorporate high-quality omega-3 with low TOTOX values.
Sometimes brands add vitamin A and rosemary and other extracts to reduce oxidation (and the bad smell coming from rancid/oxidized omega-3 fatty acids) but often these are added too late in the production process, and do not sufficiently protect the omega-3 fats from oxidation.
We therefore recommend to also consume fatty fish at least four times per week, like salmon, herring, anchovy, and mackerel.
Dave Aspray takes specific forms of magnesium, like magnesium citrate.
This is acceptable for magnesium, but for longevity purposes, we prefer magnesium malate because malate has shown to extend lifespan.
18. Methyl Folate and Methyl B-12
These are specific B vitamins. However, as explained before, we find it better to take a B vitamin complex supplement, containing all B vitamins given all B vitamins work together in a synergistic way.
Methyl folate and methyl vitamin B12 are methylated forms of these vitamins.
These specific variants of vitamin B are sometimes recommended to mitigate mutations some people have that can lead to too little methylation of molecules.
Also, sometimes these B vitamins are recommended to address the problem that some people don’t have enough methyl donors.
Tyrosine is a precursor of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are substances that relay messages between brain cells.
Tyrosine can increase dopamine levels, which can provide people with more energy and make them feel better.
There is not a lot of convincing evidence that tyrosine extends lifespan.
Polyphenols are substances like flavonoids that are found in dark chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, and many other healthy fruits and vegetables.
Innumerable studies show that polyphenols can slow down aging and reduce the risk of aging-related diseases.
However, it’s often better to take polyphenols by consuming whole foods instead of taking a polyphenol supplement.
That means eating more blueberries, apples, pomegranate, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, and now and then a piece of dark chocolate.
Curcumin is a substance found in turmeric root that is responsible for it’s flashy yellow color.
Various studies show that curcumin can exert health benefits and perhaps slow down aging.
However, one (very rigorously conducted) study found that curcumin didn’t extend lifespan.
However, we still believe that curcumin is a useful anti-aging supplement. Try to incorporate it in your food, and consume it with a bit of olive oil and black pepper to improve its absorption manyfold.
This is another supplement that Dave Asprey sells. It contains oxaloacetate, which can improve cellular mechanisms.
However, KetoPrime only contains 100 mg of oxaloacetate, which is too low. Ideally, people take 1000 to 2000 mg or more of oxaloacetate per day.
D-ribose is a sugar-like molecule.
There is not a lot of convincing science or well-conducted studies showing that ribose can extend lifespan.
Some studies seem to suggest that ribose can increase energy levels and muscle performance.
24. Prescription drugs like modafinil and racetams
In some podcasts Dave Asprey mentions he takes modafinil and racetams (like aniracetam and piracetam). These are prescription drugs, often given to reduce fatigue (modafinil) or to treat Alzheimer’s disease (racetams; note that they are not prescribed in the US).
These drugs stimulate brain cells. However, one has to be careful to not overstimulate brain cells. Too much stimulation can damage them. This can, for example, happen through excitotoxicity, or just by making them work harder so they wear out faster.
For example, studies show that stimulatory drugs (like the ones prescribed for ADHD and ADD) are associated with an up to 8 times increased risk of Parkinson’s disease (R).
One should be careful with modafinil, which is a strong stimulatory substance that is normally prescribed for people with narcolepsy.
Racetams however could be another story. Some racetams, like piracetam, have shown to be neuroprotective (R), and improve mitochondrial membrane fluidity for example (R,R). Piracetam was once prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s disease, until novel (patentable) drugs came around like phosphodiesterase inhibitors.
We like apigenin. Apigenin is a flavonoid found in vegetables, fruits and herbs. Parsley specifically is a very rich source of apigenin.
Apigenin has various health benefits. However, we don’t recommend taking it in supplement form given it does not get absorbed easily.
It’s better to just consume parsley, which contains more absorbable and high levels of fresh apigenin.
26. No multivitamin
David Asprey is not a fan of multivitamins. We agree.
In most cases, multivitamins contain too low doses of specific ingredients (e.g. 50 mg of potassium while ideally you need to take in a few thousand mg per day), or contain the wrong versions of micronutrients (e.g. magnesium oxide instead of magnesium malate), or wrong combinations (e.g. zinc with copper while those minerals inhibit each other’s absorption).
Therefore, we recommend taking some essential vitamins and minerals separately, as we explain here.
Other anti-aging supplements we would add
There are many other, significantly better anti-aging supplements that have much more convincing science behind them than the supplements that Dave Asprey has publicly disclosed taking, such as alpha-ketoglutarate, microdosed lithium, glucosamine sulphate, glycine, and so on.
These substances act on the hallmarks of aging and have often shown their merits as anti-aging supplements in various ways.
The diet of Dave Asprey
Dave Asprey consumes a paleo-like diet with lots of healthy fats.
He recommends avoiding grains like wheat products (bread, pasta), rice and corn.
We agree with Asprey that one should decrease the amount of starchy foods like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes. After all, these foods, even the wholegrain variants, can cause high sugar peaks that accelerate aging.
Dave Asprey is also not a big fan of dairy products, especially milk. We also agree with this. Milk accelerates aging in various ways.
Asprey also recommends increasing the intake of healthy fats, which is definitely a good thing.
People should consume more healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, walnuts and seeds, and healthy fats found in olive oil or avocados for example.
Asprey is a fan of butter and medium-chain-triglycerides. However, we don’t fully agree with this.
We think it’s an oversimplification claiming that all saturated fats are healthy. There are definitely healthy saturated fats (like butyric acid, caprylic acid and others), and there are neutral saturated fats, and then there are unhealthy saturated fats (especially the long-tailed ones, which can induce inflammation for example (R,R)).
We think it’s too simple to say that “all” saturated fats are healthy. We do agree with Asprey that many governments are wrong saying that all saturated fats are unhealthy. This is simply not the case (e.g. butyric acid).
Dave Asprey also recommends eating a lot of meat. We are not a big fan of that, given all research in biogerontology (the science of aging) shows that too much animal protein accelerates aging (R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R,R).
In the short term, a high-animal protein diet can make you feel better, but in the long term it accelerates aging and makes you older, faster.
We explain more about the best longevity diet here.
What fasting method does Dave Asprey follow?
Dave Asprey is a big advocate of intermittent fasting. This involves eating only in a specific time window.
He proposes a 16:8 fasting schedule, which means eating within a window of 8 hours and fasting for 16 hours.
Practically, he advises to skip breakfast and take your first meal around noon and dinner at 8 pm. That way, people consume their meals in an 8 hour period, while fasting for the other 16 hours.
Fasting provides various benefits, and a 16:8 fast can be a good approach. Even following a 12:12 schedule, in which one fasts for 12 hours and eats within another 12 hour period can confer benefits.
There are even more powerful methods of fasting, but they require considerably more self discipline. For example, a 3 day fast every few months or so, unlocks many longevity benefits that intermittent fasting can’t.
This is because iIt’s only after more than 48 hours of fasting that various extra and more powerful health benefits are unlocked, which you cannot achieve when fasting for 16 hours, such as ketosis, and increased autophagy and metabolic resetting.
We explain more about the best fasting methods (and some caveats to consider) here.
Dave Asprey is certainly following a healthier lifestyle than the vast majority of people. And when it comes to his short-term biohacking goals, combined with a desire to live a long and healthy life, he strikes a fair balance.
With that said, significantly more can be done to achieve maximum healthspan and lifespan. If that’s your goal, we encourage you to subscribe to keep following our blog where we regularly post news and insights on how to live longer, healthier.