I just came across a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Researchers found that the combination of biohacking supplements glucosamine and chondroitin reduced the risk of all-cause mortality by 39% and risk of death from heart and vascular dysfunction by 65%*.1
I think this is the epitome of antiaging and longevity biohacking. This is a huge study out of a major medical school. It’s not one of those obscure privately funded studies with 20 people who are taking some highly experimental biohacking supplement or treatment. And I will explain how and why the supplements identified in this study were so effective. That way you can understand exactly how hacking the collagen in your body works. And, near the end of this blog, why just taking collagen powder likely would not provide the same benefit.*
Researchers defined glucosamine and chondroitin users as people who reported daily use for at least one year. They did not identify the dose taken. A typical dose is 1,100 mg glucosamine and 1,200 mg chondroitin daily for cartilage support.
Researchers at the Department of Family Medicine, West Virginia University, used 11 years of data from 16,686 participants in the 1999 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHNES). They adjusted for factors including age, sex, smoking status, and activity level, with the adjusted results remaining very similar to the unadjusted results.
Proposed Mechanisms of Action
People generally take glucosamine and chondroitin to help repair collagen in their joints and slow down the progression of arthritis.* Glen Rothfeld MD posits that If these compounds repair collagen in joint cartilage, wouldn’t they also provide the building blocks of collagen in other structures in the body?*2
It’s possible that joint issues, often diagnosed as arthritis, which indicate the need for collagen repair, are a marker for collagen damage in other parts of the body, such as the vascular system.*
Dr. Linus Pauling attributed heart disease to weak arterial walls.* He said that arterial walls become weak from a lack of sufficient building blocks of collagen. He focused on vitamin C. In this population study, we see the association of glucosamine and chondroitin supplementation with the result of weakened arteries, the antithesis of antiaging.*
Limitations of the Study
We recognize the limitations of epidemiology studies. However, data from this study is supported by several prior smaller studies. Authors call for prospective studies to confirm cause and effect of these antiaging longevity supplements.
Cholesterol as a Potential Marker for Collagen Deficiency
Once a patient develops arterial disease, the body’s protective mechanism is to produce excess cholesterol in the liver. The cholesterol is used to repair and fortify weakened or injured arteries. Unfortunately, cholesterol patches from the inside, thus reducing the width of arteries in its repair process. The laws of physics suggest that reducing diameter of the arteries means either blood flow is reduced or blood pressure is increased to maintain blood flow through a smaller opening.*
In addition, it is postulated that nutrient, oxygen, and waste absorption through the vascular wall is reduced where cholesterol has accumulated to protect the artery. When you look at a picture of an artery with cholesterol buildup, you see how much thicker that portion of the wall is. This thick vascular wall is not conducive to passing nutrients from the blood stream to cells and organs.*
We can thus propose high plasma LDL cholesterol as a marker for vascular disease in its secondary role to protect the vascular system. However, in this scenario, high LDL cholesterol is not the cause of vascular disease, rather it is the body’s protective mechanism when there is a lack of nutrients to manage healthy collagen levels to ensure a healthy vascular (and joint) system. In my forthcoming book, I warn of the temptation to treat the body’s protective mechanisms, rather than the cause of the problem. A true longevity biohacker will focus on hacking the cause of a problem rather than the symptom.*
Of course, the primary role of cholesterol is to provide brain volume and neurological function via myelin, maintain the integrity and fluidity of cell membranes, and as a precursor of hormone and bile production. This is a reason to be wary if you are hacking a symptom, rather than the cause.*
Prevent weakened vascular walls and subsequent vascular cholesterol progression by maintaining healthy collagen throughout the body. Glucosamine and chondroitin are the life extension antiaging supplements identified in this epidemiological study. MSM and vitamin C are other life extension antiaging nutrients that are precursors of collagen.*
Vitamin C is commonly available in diet. However, as I have noted in past articles, the body is only capable of absorbing about 250 mg Vitamin C in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract at one time. So, a combination of fruits, vegetables and a sophisticated multivitamin is far better than a high dose of vitamin C supplementation (other than IV).
Our more vain (pun intended) longevity biohackers can take collagen precursors to support skin elasticity and minimize formation of wrinkles, likely providing the same longevity biohacking – mortality reduction benefit as identified with taking glucosamine and chondroitin for joint support.*
Why Not Just Use Collagen for Longevity Biohacking?
Collagen is a very popular longevity biohacking supplement now. However, the body does NOT just pass collagen through your acidic stomach, and NOT break it down and ferment it in your intestines. Just like when you eat meat or chicken wings or fish, they aren’t just deposited on your biceps as muscle, or wings or a fish. You can try something that was not identified in this 16,000-person study. Just be careful when you read longevity biohacking promotional materials from other companies – that they are not making a huge leap of science and trying to market something that is beyond what the science really says, or that sounds like everyone is taking it, so it must work.
With the extremely low risks associated with longevity biohacking with these common and natural biohacking supplements, naturally existing in the body, the potential benefit of decrease in mortality may be a very good risk/reward tradeoff for supplementing with glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM.*
You can get glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM most everywhere, but you likely can’t get these longevity biohacking pearls of wisdom from anyone else. So, we seek your support in promoting our top quality, full dose longevity biohacking formulations originally designed for physicians and which support our research.
- King DE, Xiang J. Glucosamine/Chondroitin and Mortality in a US NHANES Cohort. J Am Board Fam Med. 2020 Nov-Dec;33(6):842-847. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2020.06.200110. PMID: 33219063; PMCID: PMC8366581.
- Rothfeld,GS. Miracle supplement duo reduces death risk by 39%; Nutrition & Healing; Mar 2021 p4-5.