Best Stem Cell Supplements 2022: Can a dietary supplement help your stem cells?

If you search online for stem cell supplements, you’re bound to find a long list. Figuring out what to make of all of these supplements can be pretty daunting, as each claims to be the best and greatest. 

best stem cell supplement

The Supplement Game

You need to be careful with supplements and health claims and especially stem cell supplements. Why? Generally, the process of creating a new supplement is pretty simple. You go online, find some studies that seem to fit what you’re looking for, create a master file, choose your ingredients, and you’re off. Meaning, no original lab or clinical research is performed.

For example, to create a stem cell supplement, you could focus on the different ways that stem cells get impacted by supplement ingredients, like proliferation. This means that the substance helps stem cells make more of themselves. You then choose from some the ingredients below and you’ve got a new supplement. However, is this really what’s desired? Do you want more stem cells? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? What other impacts do these supplements have on stem cells? All of this is largely unknown. 

Specific Supplements

Here we’ll start with a few common supplements you might see on the grocery store shelf, to see what the research says about how they impact stem cells. Realize that many of the research studies that can be found on this topic may use a different stem cell type. Hence, we tried to focus mostly on mesenchymal stem cells.

There are Different Stem Cell Types?

You’ve probably heard about embryonic stem cells (ESCs). These are derived from an embryo and they are controversial. None of the research on stem cell supplements reviewed here used ESCs. Then there are adult stem cells that live in your body and act as the repairmen. These come in many flavors, but the type I have focused on in this review are called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), the triathlete of adult stem cells. They can both direct tissue repair like a general contractor and also differentiate (turn into) many different cell types like bone, cartilage, muscles, tendon, etc… These cells also have subtypes that come from various tissues like bone marrow, fat, or elsewhere. While similar, these different MSC types are not the same.

Best Stem Cell Supplements 2022

So, if you plan to naturally boost stem cell regeneration, below are some of the top science backed supplements that you need to consider.

1. Glucosamine/Chondroitin

These two supplements are commonly used in arthritis treatments and are often derived from shellfish. Hence it makes sense that glucosamine can promote MSCs (Mesenchymal Stem Cells) to become cartilage and inhibit the breakdown of cartilage. Chondroitin can also enhance the ability of MSCs to turn into cartilage (R).

Chondroitin also has real measurable effects on knee cartilage in actual patients. In one study, it reduced cartilage volume loss on MRI after 6 months (R). Glucosamine also seemed to help cartilage quality when measured on a specialized MRI (R). In another study, glucosamine reduced cartilage breakdown products (R). Finally, when compared to prescription Celebrex, the combination of glucosamine and chondroitin were better at improving function and reducing cartilage breakdown in the knee (R).

2. Curcumin/Turmeric

The most commonly promoted anti-inflammatory supplements right now are curcumin and turmeric. Turmeric and curcumin are derived from the turmeric root with turmeric being the spice you know from Indian cooking, and curcumin one of the chemical compounds known as curcuminoids, which are believed to be biologically active. In addition, in order for curcumin to be absorbed in the gut, a black pepper extract is commonly required.

In one study that used adipose MSCs to treat heart attacks, curcumin improved the viability of the cells, reduced scarring in the heart muscle being repaired, and promoted new blood vessel formation (R). In another involving bone marrow MSCs, curcumin improved bone formation (R).

The curcuminoids also impact arthritis through anti-inflammatory pathways and reducing inflammatory cytokines. All of these effects have translated into real measurable impacts on patients with knee arthritis (R). In other studies, Curcumin has been shown to be as effective as common NSAID anti-inflammatories such as Diclofenac (R).

3. L-Carnosine

L-Carnosine is a “performance enhancer” amino acid shown to enhance muscular endurance. In fact, many who take this potent ingredient report being able to dramatically increase strength performance at the gym, as well as:
  • Burn more fat [R]
  • Show to increase adult stem cell proliferation by 25% in vitro [study]
  • Increase lean muscle [study]
  • Improve cardiovascular performance [study]

4. Green Tea Extract

Green Tea Extract is incredibly potent thanks to its high number of polyphenols, which have been shown to:
  • Boost heart health [R]
  • Promote improved cognitive function [study]
  • Support healthy weight management [study]
  • Enhance skin [study]

5. Leucine

Leucine is often referred to as “The Main Amino Acid” because it’s the most potent activator of protein, shown to:
  • Improve muscle strength, especially in the elderly [R]
  • Promote boosted longevity [study]

6. Blueberry powder

Blueberry powder is a powerful heat-sensitive antioxidant, shown to help DNA health. Additionally, this ingredient is shown to:
  • Improve concentration and recall [study]
  • Promote cardiovascular health [study]
  • Increase muscle endurance [study]

7. Spirulina 

This one grows in both salt and fresh water wherein it's sometimes referred to as blue-green algae. Just like plants, spirulina can produce energy with the help of sunlight via the process we know as photosynthesis.

The standard daily dose for spirulina should be around 1 to 3 grams but an increase dosage of 10 grams daily have been used effectively.

Here are the benefits of spirulina: 
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Protein-rich
  • It can help in the production of new stem cells
  • It contains anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-aging effects
  • A great source of protein and vitamins for vegetarians. This perfect for anyone who wants to reduce their protein dosage through animal meat.
    The recommended dosage for spirulina: 
    • You can use it as directed
    • No universally accepted dosage
    • The dose from a powder supplement may require ½ teaspoon to 1 tablespoon
    • Supplement capsules can range between 300mg to 1,000mg per serving
    • Triggers new stem cells production
    • It contains anti-cancer, anti-viral, and anti-aging properties
    • It can protect your stem cells from harmful toxins in the body

    8. Resveratrol

    Resveratrol (RSVL) is a natural type of polyphenolic phytoestrogen and is mainly found in red grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and other plants. The effect of resveratrol on stem cell is well documented (R). 

    It also helps MSC (mesenchymal stem cell) differentiation into osteogenic (bone related) cells and suppresses differentiation into the fat related tissue lineage [R]. 

    The combination therapy of MSCs (mesenchymal stem cell) transplantation and resveratrol has also played a great therapeutic effect in animal models of diabetic complications (R, R, R)

    9. Quercetin

    This can be found in many fruits, vegetables, grains, and leaves. Kale and red onions are examples of foods that contains an appreciable amount of quercetin among many others. It comes with a bitter flavor and is commonly used as an ingredient in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.

    Here are the benefits of quercetin: 
    • Antioxidant
    • It supports mitochondria
    • It can prevent the death of cells
    • It can protect your body by reducing your stress levels
    • It can serve as a natural antihistamine and can get rid of allergy symptoms
    • It is a safe alternative to painkillers since it can treat arthritis and joint pain
    • Research suggests that it can support stem cell growth and differentiation
    Food sources for quercetin: 
    • Apples
    • Peppers
    • Leafy greens
    • Olive oil
    • Red wine
    • Cruciferous vegetables
    The recommended dosage for quercetin: 
    • Currently, there are no ideal amounts set by the scientific community. You can ask your doctor regarding this one to find out how much is needed based on your health's current status.
    • Majority of supplements require 500mg and it has to be taken twice daily. But with quercetin, you can already experience the benefits even if you take something lesser than that considering that it's known to be diet rich.

    A Look at Many Supplements and How They Influence Stem Cell Differentiation

    The image below is from a review article that looked at how many different supplements and plant extracts changed how stem cells turned into other cell types (differentiation) (3). For example, curcumin pushed stem cells towards making more stem cells (proliferation) and toward muscle cells. Quercetin pushed stem cells toward making bone. Flavonoids like quercetin and others found in teas, cocoa, grapes, apples, etc… helped stem cells become cartilage. 

    More on Stem Cell Proliferation 

    Proliferation means getting cells to make more of themselves or promoting MSC growth. If you want stem cells to repair something, then this could be good. On the other hand, if you have cancer, then this is one mechanism by which stem cells can make tumors bigger, so proliferation can be a two-edged sword. 

    Making Sense of All of this Research 

    The problem with looking at these studies and throwing a bunch of ingredients into a supplement is that you have no idea of how these ingredients will interact. In addition, many of these studies are performed with different stem cell subtypes in differing conditions. For example, some used a 3D culture environment and some more traditional culture. Some added other things into the petri dish in addition to the supplement or plant extract.

    When interpreting scientific studies, let’s remember that cell culture results are trumped by mouse results. Mouse results are trumped by human results. Case studies & small human trial results are trumped by double-blind placebo controlled ones.

    While some studies suggest that taking certain supplements may help boost your stem cells, the best way to promote overall health is to engage in healthy practices like consuming a nutritious diet, engaging in regular exercise, caloric restriction and fasting, quality sleep, reducing stress and protect yourself from radiation.

    The key takeaway is that you need to consult and discuss this together with your trusted healthcare provider before taking any of the supplements that are recommended above.

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