Supplements on Calorie Restriction

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I had this question the other day and it’s been a while since I updated on my supplement regimen, so before I do, I’ll talk a little about my feeling towards taking supplements while practicing calorie restriction and what supplements I take and recommend for people practicing calorie restriction or on a raw food, vegan diet.

When I first started to read about supplements I was very excited to learn about all the amazing benefits and how they were little miracles in a bottle. Back then in 2005 the research on Resveratrol was only just starting to ramp up.

Scientists had discovered that it was Sirtuin Activator and speculated that it might let one get the benefits of calorie restriction without having to actually do the diet.

All one had to do was take a supplement or a pill that would be developed and be more powerful.  So as it turns out, resveratrol only benefits obese mice placed on a very bad diet. In mice on normal diets, the resveratrol had no effect on longevity, but it did improve health and reverse the effects of a bad diet.

This story with regards to supplements is repeated over and over again. At first, everyone is excited that we might be on to something that works and will cure people of all their health problems, and then a well-designed study looks at the supplement in question and there is no effect.

And what’s scary is that some supplements actually reduced lifespan in long-lived mice and calorie-restricted animals.

So given that I am skeptical about supplements, you would think that I skip them and not bother. Well, there are supplements that I think do have fairly good evidence, and also won’t do any harm in the long term.

I mean, the last thing I want is to take something and then it blocks the life-extending effect of calorie restriction.

Below is a list of supplements to take

Vitamin B12: If you are vegetarian or vegan I think that it is a very smart idea to take vitamin B12. It is water-soluble and you can take so much of this that you don’t really need to worry about getting into toxicity issues.

Magnesium Citrate: When I started calorie restriction I ran into problems with magnesium. Despite me getting plenty in my diet, I had magnesium deficiency symptoms that went on for almost a year before I figured out the cause.

Within a very short period of taking magnesium supplements, the symptoms went away and have not returned in 8 years. Magnesium is also calming and makes you feel relaxed and less stressed. There’s no real harm in taking magnesium, other than perhaps being a laxative if you have a little too much.

Check out how magnesium and zinc together can help you sleep better at night.

Vitamin D3: I tend to do a lot of work indoors and go through periods where I am a night owl, and don’t get much sun, so taking a vitamin D3 supplement is important for me. I find that it helps improve my mood so much.

Many people here in the UK don’t get enough even when they are outside often. Vitamin D3 is important for bones, immune system, and well-being. A few studies have also shown it to be very effective in preventing cancer and the recurrence of various cancers.

See my article on Vitamin D

Zinc: On a plant-based diet I get a lot of copper and not enough zinc. Since copper and zinc compete for the same pathway, it is crucial to get the correct ratio.

It’s recommended that we have a zinc-copper ratio of 8:1 to 10:1 — so at least 8 mg of zinc for every 1 mg of copper in your diet.

I use CRON-O-METER to find out how much I am getting of each. But due to being complacent, I did become deficient in zinc at one point… you read to see my story on that below.

See my article on Zinc.

Allicin Max: The only stabilized allicin supplement out there and is one of my favorite supplements ever. I talk more about allicin max here.

I cannot tell you how many times I feel it helped me prevent or get over a cold. I take it every day now to protect myself, and I truly believe that it has helped me so much.

I had a bacterial infection years ago and nothing would work, no matter how many antibiotics I was given. I decided to try this supplement after a friend recommended it to me.

Before I took it I decided to do some research and found that it acted synergistically with antibiotics to clear infections, by lowering the minimum inhibitory concentrate (MIC) and reversing resistance.

In studies, it worked on its own as a quorum sensing inhibitor and thus the bacteria cannot communicate well or create a strong biofilm, leaving them vulnerable to the immune system and antibiotics.

I’ve had multiple bladder infections growing up and had to resort to antibiotics (they say once you get one, 50% of people have a recurrence), but eventually they became less effective.

Trimethoprim stopped working, so I tried Doxycycline (sometimes long-term low-dose) and it was great at first, but it was slowly losing its potency. E. coli was the problem (causes 90% of UTI’s), and it was becoming resistant.

I was already taking other supplements like AHCC and/or Beta glucans to help with the immune system while taking those antibiotics. And I believe they did help clear it up fast, but for some reason, it kept coming back.

Ever since I added the Allicin to the mix, it wiped it out and has not returned in years! I’m sure Allicin helped me get rid of the problem for good.

Check out what others are saying about it also…

It is available in creams and supplement form. (make sure you get Allicin Max if you’re in the UK and make sure the product contains allisure) It was also featured in the news a few years ago

Probiotics: I’ve taken probiotics for years because of my history with antibiotics. Although I’ve never felt any big negative side effects on my digestive system from taking antibiotics in the past, I’m sure things were out of balance because of other signs.

I take at least one 30 billion CFU probiotic supplement every day, so this may have prevented the negative effects of antibiotics. Before I was vegan I would get much of my good bacteria from probiotics yogurts.

My thoughts on anti-aging supplements

Be careful. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that you want to avoid. Calorie restriction is still the most effective method to extend lifespan. You don’t need to take a huge stack of supplements.

If we are to find something that mimics the effect of calorie restriction in extending lifespan, it is likely to come out of the science lab. The closest and most encouraging news lately is about something called Rapamycin.

It is a TOR inhibitor and used to help people who have organ transplants. In animal experiments, they’ve found that it extends lifespan, even when given late in life.

And synthetic versions of this are being developed and tried in older people. There is also a study in dogs to see if it extends lifespan. Keep an eye out for news on Rapamycin!

1. Dietary supplementation with Lovaza and krill oil shortens the lifespan of long-lived F1 mice

2. Influence on Longevity of Blueberry, Cinnamon, Green and Black Tea, Pomegranate, Sesame, Curcumin, Morin, Pycnogenol, Quercetin, and Taxifolin Fed Iso-Calorically to Long-Lived, F1 Hybrid Mice

3. Lifespan effects of simple and complex nutraceutical combinations fed isocalorically to mice.

Reviewed and updated: 08/2018

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  • Hi Matt,
    Thanks for all the usefull information on your site, it is a treasure and a great inspiration for me.
    I write here to discuss about astaxanthin.
    I read a lot about its good effects. Also a lot of people told me wonderfull things about it.
    What do you think of it? Do you think it could be a valid supplement for a person doing severe calorie restriction that want to maximize the anti-aging effects?

    • Thank you! I really appreciate your kind words.

      I think if a person is doing severe calorie restriction, a supplement like astaxanthin is unlikely to further improve your maximum lifespan potential. I also don’t think it’s going to do any harm. I haven’t focused too much on it because it’s not in any significant amounts in my diet.

      If you have a refractory inflammatory condition, then you’re more likely to see synergistic effects from it. Or if you’re doing mild CR.

      I just read about it extending the lifespan of c elegans by increase FOXO3 gene. So maybe, but I wouldn’t put any bets on it…

      Have a great weekend! 🙂

  • Might I ask what the symptoms you had that made you think you were magnesium deficient. I’m a little bit wary of supplementing with Mag because of it’s effects on gut biofilms. Also, I’d like to think if I’m eating a mixed diet with a lot of fruit and veggies that I’d be able to get enough minerals in my diet. Also, do you think that just being on a CR diet alone makes getting enough Mag from food vary hard?

    • I was getting plenty of magnesium in my diet. Some of us just need more of a certain vitamin or mineral than others… for whatever reason.

      My main symptoms lasted about a year and they were: twitching muscles, palpitations, and anxiety. The palpitations were the worst, and they happened almost every day, throughout the day.. When I figured it out after many “tests”, I started to take magnesium and all of these symptoms went away very quickly in 2006 and have not returned.

      Magnesium was easy to get on CR…

      Check out this:

      I don’t know if that’s a very accurate and reliable test, though.

  • thank you for your amazing blog:)
    I would like to know if you believe Q10 is a waste for young people?
    which supplements are the most important after magnesium and the other stuff you mentioned?is NOW as good quality as Life extension ?(they are less expensive).
    I see a lot of fruit.are you concerned about the fruit sugar?
    which sweeteners do you use?stevia?sucralose?I use stevia,sucralose,a bit of coconut palm sugar.I’m a having the sweetest tooth ever;)


    • Hey Coco! Thank you! :3

      Yeah I think there’s no point in taking it when you’re young. I used to take a lot of supplements when I was younger… at one point maybe 100 supplements a day. I took at least 60+ for years… But now I think it’s best to keep things relatively simple. But there are a few which I would still consider:

      Quercetin + Bromelain

      Now are okay.. they wouldn’t be my first choice. I used to always use AOR. AOR have high quality supplements that are tested for purity, so you know exactly what you’re getting. If you are okay going with more expensive supplements then AOR > LE > NOW

      Haha I don’t have that much fruit… Most of the time it’s early in the day that I have fruit and then the rest of the day is vegetables and whatever else. It’s not like I’m eating 30 bananas a day 😉

      U used to use sucralose… but not anymore. I like Manuka Honey. Do you eat that?

      I haven’t tried coconut palm sugar before….

      Sorry about the delay in responding, Coco. Have a lovely day! :))

  • p.s no I don’t eat manuka honey as I believe all that sugar is unhealthy.
    I’ll stick with Now.I buy their more expensive natural minerals for instance magnesium citrate which should be eaiser for the body to absorb;) did you stop all those supplements because it was too expensive and too many pills too swallow? I spend A LOT of money of supplements but if you really believe it’s not worth it I’m going to reconsider it… what about Superfoods like spirulina, chlorella, cacao powder,maca powder? do you think they work well? I tried them all. but the taste was SO disgusting(chlorella OMG not for weak minds;) ) !

  • Hi I just recently began a very low calorie lifestyle and it’s hard to get started on but I’m sticking it out,I make sure to add protein in my diet daily and have added iron supplements because I’ve suffered anemia for a lot of my life.ive also added B12,magnesium,calcium and zinc.should I add D3 also?im at 600 to 750 calories daily

    • I just stumbled upon this blog while researching a cron lifestyle as a vegan. Tbh, as someone who’s battled an eating disorder for a long time, I recognize the dangers of eating as low calorie as you’re saying you do. I hope you will reconsider having at least 1000 calories a day, and even that may not be enough in terms of your age and activity level. I take a few supplements, myself (just four, and I don’t overdo it), because I’ve only been vegan for a few months and I want to ensure I won’t become deficient in anything. Once I get a checkup in a couple of months I will adjust accordingly. I think you would do well to do the same instead of looking to someone on a blog to determine your needs. Get blood work done to determine if you even need to supplement with Vitamin D3 (regular D3 isn’t vegan, but they now make D3 from lichen). Since I live in the Northeast and often have low D levels in winter, I supplement. You may find that you don’t need to. What one person does or needs shouldn’t determine what you do. Every body is different. Get your levels checked and then see.. And definitely eat more! Doing CRON shouldn’t mimic a starvation diet. Good luck.

      • Wow how did I miss that comment! Jo is absolutely right, 600-750 Calories is NOT enough! I would say for a woman of average height, between 1200-1600 K/cal (depending on metabolism and age) would be about right.

        I’ve been doing CR now for about 15 years and I eat around 1700 K/cal per day. BMI is around 18.8 (just above normal).

        Thank you for the comment, Jo!

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