Dr. Peter Attia is a medical doctor specializing in health, longevity and preventive medicine.
A common question is, what supplements and drugs does Peter Attia take to live longer and healthier?
We dug into Dr. Peter Attia’s podcasts, interviews, books and online information and summarized all of the information for you in this post. Note that none of these are a direct endorsement by Peter Attia himself.
We also don’t know if Peter Attia still takes these supplements, as people’s routines change over time. Also, we included some of the supplements he recommends for specific conditions, but he does not take himself (we note when this is the case).
We also provide our own view on Dr. Peter Attia’s supplements and drugs, and provide you with references and information for you to make up your own mind on whether or not to take these longevity supplements.
We wrote a similar review about the longevity supplements and drugs longevity expert Prof. Dr. David Sinclair takes.
Supplements Peter Attia takes
Peter Attia considers magnesium as very important for health, and we agree. Magnesium is used by innumerable proteins in order for them to function properly and carry out their tasks. Magnesium protects and stabilizes DNA and helps heart and muscle cells to contract and neurons cells to fire.
Sadly, more than 70 percent of people consume inadequate amounts of magnesium and are chronically deficient.
Peter Attia takes magnesium sulfate and magnesium oxide. Magnesium oxide is not an ideal form of magnesium, as it’s less well absorbed by the gut (magnesium oxide is also used as a laxative) and the oxide molecule serves no health or longevity purpose. The same for magnesium sulfate.
Therefore, we prefer magnesium malate. This form of magnesium is absorbed well from the gut into the blood. Also, the malate has shown to be able to extend lifespan. Malate can also provide extra energy (learn more here).
Another problem with most magnesium supplements is that they contain too low of a dose of magnesium, like 50 to 100 mg. Ideally, you need at least 300 to 600 mg of magnesium per day, both from supplements and foods. A good supplement should at least contain 200 to 300 mg.
When choosing a supplement, it’s important to distinguish between the mg dosage of magnesium, versus the dosage of the combined molecule. For example, 2,000 mg of magnesium malate is composed of 1,700 mg of malate and 300 mg of magnesium.
We explain the longevity effects of magnesium malate here.
It’s for these reasons that magnesium malate is one of the 12 ingredients in our foundational longevity supplement, NOVOS Core.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Peter Attia swears by omega-3 fatty acids, and rightfully so. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for brain health (mainly DHA omega-3 fatty acids), heart health (especially EPA omega-3 fatty acids), for the immune system, the eye, and so on.
Most people don’t consume enough omega-3’s. Even consuming two portions of fatty fish per week can still lead to inadequate omega-3 fatty acids.
So omega-3 fatty acids, in combination with foods that contain lots of omega-3, like fatty fish (salmon, herring, anchovy, mackerel), salmon roe, walnuts, flaxseed and chia seed, is recommended.
The problem however with omega-3 supplements is that they are often poor quality. Specifically, they are too oxidized: they have high TOTOX (total oxidation) values.
Peter Attia recommends Nordic Naturals and we agree this is a good brand.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D has shown to extend lifespan (R,R). Deficiencies of vitamin D increase the risk of heart disease, auto-immune diseases and cancer. So we are all for taking vitamin D, and it’s one of the 11 general health supplements we recommend taking.
Make sure you take vitamin D3, not vitamin D2. Also, it’s important to take a dose that is high enough (at least 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day), and to combine vitamin D with vitamin K (ideally, different forms of vitamin K2). Learn more here.
4. Microdosed lithium
Lithium is a mineral that has shown to extend lifespan (R,R,R,R,R,R,R), reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases (R,R), and that could stabilize mood and reduce the risk of suicide (R).
We are speaking here of microdosed lithium, which means very low daily doses in the range of a few hundred micrograms (ug) to a few milligrams.
We are not referring to pharmacological doses which are given by doctors to patients to treat serious psychiatric disorders, like bipolar disorder. Such doses can be 500 – 2,000 mg of lithium per day. So, much, much higher than microdosed lithium.
Nonetheless, microdosed lithium has shown to have various beneficial effects on brain aging and aging in general.
Peter Attia mentioned he occasionally took berberine, but we don’t know if he still takes it. Because of his use of the prescription drug metformin, we suspect that he does not actively take berberine.
Berberine can have some beneficial effects on metabolism, but we find there are not yet enough studies looking at the long-term effects of berberine, especially whether it can extend lifespan.
We also don’t yet know if berberine is a safe substance to take in the long term.
We describe better alternatives for metformin and berberine here.
6. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs)
Peter Attia takes 2 to 4 grams of BCAAs to improve muscle growth, endurance and make his workout more efficient.
We are not fans of branched-chain amino acids for the sake of longevity, especially in consideration of the alternatives. Branched chain amino acids are potent stimulators of mTOR (R). mTOR is an important protein that when activated can accelerate aging (R). BCAAs may, in the long term, accelerate aging or increase the risk of insulin resistance (R), oxidative stress and inflammation (R).
This can be confusing, because many studies show lots of beneficial effects of BCAAs, like reducing oxygen radicals, increasing muscle strength, enhancing physical endurance, and so on. It’s important to be mindful that these are short-term effects. If the goal is longevity, we not only need to be mindful of short-term health outcomes, but long-term health span and lifespan as well.
There’s a concept in biology known as antagonist pleiotropy. Essentially, it means that what could be good for you today can come back to harm you in the long-term. A simple example of that is sun exposure. In the short term, it can increase vitamin D, endorphins and nitric oxide production, but in the long term it can increase the odds for skin cancer.
BCAAs will increase mTOR. Although mTOR is good for repairing and growth in the short term, high and regular mTOR stimulation, as previously mentioned, can shorten health span and lifespan. In fact, it is primarily via down-regulation of mTOR complex 1 that the prescription drug rapamycin–a gold standard longevity prescription–improves health span and lifespan outcomes in animal models.
Further, not only could ingesting too much BCAAs accelerate aging, but most amino acids can accelerate aging (albeit not as much as the BCAAs). To that point, restricting protein intake (even of essential proteins, in a cyclical manner, for example) extends lifespan (R,R,R).
Dr. Peter Attia would be the first to tell you that one’s longevity is not exclusively dictated by mTOR stimulation. Other factors, including sarcopenia, or muscle loss in older age, are factors worthy of consideration as well (falling is a common cause of death for seniors). With BCAAs and mTOR contributing to muscle growth, where does that leave us, and why don’t we recommend BCAAs?
If looked at through the monocle of muscle building or fat loss, a high protein diet, replete with BCAAs, would be ideal. But when looked at through the lens of longevity, the answer is more nuanced, where it’s necessary to straddle between adequate muscle building and maintenance, and not overstimulating mTOR.
Therefore, for most people, we recommend ingesting 1.3 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.6 to 0.77 grams per pound), with the higher end of the range ideal for those who regularly exercise, and the lower end better for less active people. Also consider integrating fasts or protein fasts into your routine.
As you get older (60+), it’s harder to maintain muscle mass, so one may increase the protein per kg to the higher end of this range (1.7 g /kg, or 0.77 g /lb), or even slightly higher.
We also recommend vegetable protein sources for longevity purposes, which are lower in methionine and are less insulin stimulating than animal-based proteins like whey.
And with all of this said, we still don’t recommend BCAA supplements. Stick with whole food protein sources like fatty fish. And if you’re going to use a supplement, stick with vegetarian protein powders, which contain additional nutrients that can further provide longevity-promoting benefits (omega-3’s, vitamins and minerals from the fatty fish, or phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibers from the vegetarian proteins), and be mindful of the balance between muscle maintenance and mTOR stimulation.
7. Methylfolate and vitamin B12
We like B vitamins a lot.
However, Dr. Peter Attia mentions only two B vitamins (methylfolate and B12), while it’s important to take a vitamin B complex, which contains all B vitamins (e.g. vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12).
Attia likely emphasizes these two B vitamins because of how often people are deficient, and the impact they can have on critical biological processes, like methylation. However, we find that today, people are also running deficiencies in one or more of the other B vitamins as well.
B vitamins work together. Vitamin B12 works together with vitamin B6, B1, B2 and so on. Taking only a few B vitamins is usually not enough, which is why we recommend a B complex vitamin.
When you take a B complex, make sure the doses of each B vitamin are a few times higher than what is the official recommended dose. This is because the official recommended doses are too low for an optimal, long lifespan (learn more here). Being water soluble, the body can remove any excess B vitamin intake.
One exception to taking higher doses of B vitamins is vitamin B6. The daily dose of this B vitamin should be less than 20 mg per day, given high doses of vitamin B6 can cause damage to the nerves (neuropathy) if overdosed over the long term.
Peter Attia takes methylfolate. This is a somewhat further processed form of folate, because it already contains a methyl group. It’s often recommended to people who have MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene mutations, which are pretty common. These people have a problem with B-vitamin-related pathways that are involved in homocysteine levels and epigenetics.
However, some people with MTHFR mutations who take methylfolate feel worse using it. We would prefer taking the normal folate form so the body can decide for itself how much methylfolate it needs (instead of “forcing” the body to use methylfolate), and taking a sufficiently dosed vitamin B complex so the body gets all B vitamins it needs for the MTHFR related pathways. Further, it’s worth considering taking choline, trimethylglycine (TMG), and phosphatidylcholine, which can further improve these B vitamin pathways.
Selenium is an interesting substance for health and longevity. Selenium is needed by many enzymes and proteins that protect the brain, immune system, vascular health and so on.
To our knowledge, Peter Attia does not explain which form of selenium he uses. Most selenium supplements contain selenium methionine. However, selenium yeast supplements are recommended, given they contain different selenium compounds.
After all, there exist many different forms of selenium, such as triphenyl phosphine selenide, phosphine selenide, isoselenocyanate and so on. Some forms of selenium can be many times more active than others, and enable different effects.
For example, one large study showed that selenium in the form of selenium methionine did not reduce the risk of cancer (R), while another study found that people who take selenium yeast supplements had half the risk of cancer (R).
Make sure you don’t take too much selenium. We advise taking a maximum of 100 micrograms per day in the form of a supplement. We also advise taking iodine, given selenium and iodine are important for proper thyroid function and most healthy diets are deficient in iodine. Learn more here.
9 N-acetylcysteine (NAC)
We have reservations about taking N-acetylcysteine. It’s an antioxidant, and most antioxidants don’t slow down aging. Many of them can even accelerate aging.
Of course, various studies show that if you take NAC, you improve some short-term biomarkers (like reducing oxidative stress, improving inflammation, etc.).
But other studies show that in the long term, NAC could increase the risk of cancer, or help cancer to spread faster (to metastasize faster).
In fact, we added NAC on our list of 9 anti-aging supplements you don’t want to take.
Curcumin is an interesting substance that could have beneficial health effects, for example by reducing inflammation and protein accumulation.
Ketones are promising substances to improve health and slow down aging. For example, they impact the epigenome.
12. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
We have reservations about taking coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Often badly-conducted studies, or studies using coenzyme Q10-deficient animals, show that coenzyme Q10 can extend lifespan or have short-term health benefits.
But more well-conducted studies show that coenzyme Q10 does not extend lifespan (R,R), and that even reducing coenzyme Q10 levels can extend lifespan (R,R,R). Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant, and most antioxidants don’t extend lifespan and can even shorten lifespan.
That’s why we added coenzyme Q10 on our list of 9 anti-aging supplements you don’t want to take.
Allulose is touted as a healthier alternative to sugar, in the sense that it hardly increases sugar or insulin levels. In fact, there’s some evidence pointing to allulose being able to lower blood sugar levels!
We believe allulose is a good alternative to sugar, as are erythritol, xylitol and stevia, for example.
That’s why these sugar substitutes are part of our longevity diet.
14. Medium chain triglyceride oil
Peter Attia takes 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of medium chain triglyceride oil every morning before his first workout. Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) can be helpful for workouts, but in the context of aging, studies show that they don’t really extend lifespan (R).
MCTs could also perhaps have some beneficial effects on the brain, given MCTs can also be used by brain cells as a fuel (R).
15. Sleep supplement
To improve sleep, Peter Attia takes phosphatidylserine, magnesium and a supplement called Doc Parsley’s Sleep Remedy (a company in which Attia invested), comprising of vitamin D, niacin, magnesium (150 mg), and a blend of tryptophan, GABA, phosphatidylserine, theanine, 5-HTP and melatonin.
All these supplements can help with improving sleep. However, the Doc Parsley’s Sleep supplement contains besides magnesium glycinate also magnesium oxide, which is a less ideal form of magnesium.
Peter Attia takes phosphatidylserine to improve his sleep, but for some people phosphatidylserine actually prevents them from falling asleep. Everyone is different, so you have to see what works best for you.
Regarding the melatonin, it’s important that the dose is not too high because this results in very high blood peaks of melatonin that go down very quickly, so one can wake up in the middle of the night.
Ideally, the amount of melatonin should be no more than 1 mg (1,000 ug). The melatonin supplement should also be extended-release melatonin, so the melatonin is released in the blood more gradually, more closely resembling the natural waxing and waning of melatonin levels in the body.
We believe there are various other interesting substances to improve sleep, which also have life-span extending effects, such as glycine. The supplement Peter Attia takes contains too little glycine. Ideally, you take 2 grams (or more) before bed.
We compiled more than 50 tips to sleep better here.
Prescription medication Peter Attia takes
Low dose aspirin has been promoted as an anti-aging intervention because it could reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, inflammation, and even the risk for cancer
However, a large study with almost 20,000 participants that lasted 4.7 years showed that low-dose of aspirin did not reduce cardiovascular disease (R), nor did it improve survival.
In fact, this study even showed that low-dose aspirin could actually increase cancer risk a little (R), despite many other studies showing that aspirin could have anti-cancer and longevity benefits (R).
More studies have to be conducted to sort this out.
Peter Atta considers rapamycin to be one of the most promising anti-aging drugs and we wholeheartedly agree (R). However, it should be noted that this is a very powerful drug and should not be taken lightly. Specifically, rapamycin is typically prescribed by doctors to turn off the immune system during organ transplants. For this a much larger dose or rapamycin is given than the one for lifespan extension.
Rapamycin works by inhibiting mTOR, an important age-accelerating protein (which branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) actually stimulate – see earlier).
An often recommended dose for rapamycin for lifespan extension is 1 mg per day, or pulsed intermittent doses (e.g., 5 mg once every 7 to 14 days). Possible side effects of rapamycin include reduced white blood cells, an increased risk of infections, impaired wound-healing and perhaps insulin resistance (because rapamycin can also inhibit mTOR2 rect).
To reduce the risk of these side-effects, pulsed intermittent doses of rapamycin every week instead of every day is likely best. Also, the rapamycin dosing schedule can be paused. For example, one could take rapamycin every week for 3 months, and then have a rapamycin-free month.
Acarbose has been used as an anti-diabetic drug for decades.
Acarbose is one of the few drugs that have shown to extend lifespan in well-conducted studies in mice (R). We think acarbose is indeed an interesting longevity drug.
Acarbose inhibits the digestion of starch into smaller glucose-molecules, so when people eat starchy foods (e.g. bread, potatoes, pasta, rice) they have less high blood glucose peaks. Too many high glucose peaks (and corresponding insulin peaks) accelerate aging.
Dr. Peter Attia has spoken about his use of metformin on many occasions, including in interviews with longevity researcher, Nir Barzilai.
Metformin is a prescription drug that could potentially slow down aging. However, metformin can also have some significant side effects.
Some longevity scientists, like David Sinclair, recommend taking metformin only on days you don’t exercise, in order to not overstress the mitochondria too much.
We explain the advantages and disadvantages of metformin, and alternatives to metformin, here.
5. Atorvastatin & ezetimibe
Peter Attia claims he no longer takes these drugs.
Atorvastatin is a statin-drug that blocks cholesterol. Scientific studies show that not all statins are the same with regards to lifespan extension. Specific statins like simvastatin can extend lifespan in mice, while other statins don’t seem to have a life-extending effect.
Ezetimibe is used to lower blood cholesterol levels by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol from the gut into the blood.
However, taking multiple cholesterol-inhibiting drugs is perhaps not that ideal. Cholesterol is an important substance for our body. In fact, we need cholesterol to stay healthy. Cholesterol is a pivotal part of the cell membranes, including neurons and muscle cells. People who take cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins have a much higher risk of neuronal damage (neuropathy) and muscle aches.
Also, studies show that in regards to cardiovascular risk, high cholesterol is not always an ideal biomarker for heart disease: many people who have a heart attack have normal cholesterol (total cholesterol, HDL and LDL levels). Also, studies show that in very old people, those with the highest cholesterol levels actually live the longest (R).
The diet of Peter Attia
For a while, Peter Attia followed a keto diet, consisting of eating lots of fats, very little carbs and reasonable amounts of protein.
However, now Dr. Attia follows a more “normal” healthy diet, which is not ketogenic, not vegetarian and also not dairy or gluten free. He avoids fast sugars and junk food.
Based on his exercise routines, his diet is likely quite high in protein, and based on his past keto diet habits, he may be consuming lots of fats. We believe that too much animal protein, whether grass-fed or not, accelerates aging. The same for many fats. While we agree that people need to consume (lots) more healthy fats, not all fats are healthy.
We explain more about the best longevity diet here.
Peter Attia eats most of his calories in a tight window between the afternoon and evening. This means one big meal per day.
In this way, he fasts 14 to 20 hours per day. This is called time-restricted feeding (R). Whereas most people eat in the period from 8 am to 8 pm, during time-restricted feeding people only eat in a shorter period, for example between 12 pm and 6 or even 4 pm.
Peter Attia also mentioned that he does a 7-day fast every 3 months. During fasting, he still takes magnesium and methylated B vitamin complex.
We believe that a 3 day fast every three months (e.g. at the start of each season) for otherwise healthy people is sufficient. We would also recommend taking electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium) during the fasting, and even a few hundred calories per day of caprylic acid. This is to avoid too much stress on the body and muscle breakdown.
Exercise methods of Peter Attia
Peter Attia exercises a lot. He was a former cyclist and endurance swimmer.
Attia focuses on 4 different areas:
- Strength training
- Stability training
- Aerobic exercises
- Anaerobic exercise
We agree these are all important forms of exercise.
Peter Attia also stresses the importance of posture training and breathing exercises. A bad body posture can undermine health in the long term, and breathing exercises have shown to improve vagal nerve tone, reduce high blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health, among others.
Medtech Dr. Peter Attia uses
Peter Attia uses interesting medical devices to track and improve his health.
1. Continuous glucose tracking
One example is a continuous glucose sensor to track sugar levels in his blood, like the Dexcom glucose sensor.
2. Sleep tracking
Dr. Attia uses the Oura ring, which we also like to use. It tracks your sleep, and is great to study how you can improve your sleep patterns.
If you want to learn more about the ideal longevity regimens, stay tuned. We will soon launch a page where you can have an overview of the best longevity regimens.
We also wrote an article about our opinion about professor David Sinclair’s supplement regimen.