16 Best Stem Cell Supplements 2024: 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 or stem cell production. 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

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 and Chondroitin

Glucosamine has been associated with reduced mortality in humans (R,R), and can extend lifespan in animals (R,R).

Glucosamine can for example help mesenchymal stem cells to generate cartilage cells (R). Glucosamine can also improve stem cell proliferation in the gut (R,R).
 
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).

By itself, curcumin is poorly absorbed. Among the methods devised to address the issue, the most common (and most often tested) is to pair curcumin with piperine (a black pepper extract).

To supplement curcumin with piperine, take 500 mg of the former with 5-6.7 mg of the latter, thrice a day (i.e., 1,500 mg of curcumin and 15-20 mg of piperine per day) (R).

3. Resveratrol and Pterostilbene

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 (RRR).

According to Examine.com:
  • The lower end of supplementation tends to be for cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, and longevity for somebody who is otherwise unhealthy is 5-10mg daily. For persons who are otherwise healthy, dosages between the range of 150-445mg have been used (with no clear indication for what is the optimal dose).
  • Supplementing for cerebral blood flow requires a dose in the 250-500mg range whereas supplementation for aromatase inhibition requires 500mg as well.
  • Supplementation of resveratrol refers to trans-resveratrol exclusively.

4. Quercetin and Fisetin

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 (R)
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.
According to Examine.com:
  • Dosages of quercetin used are in the range of 12.5 to 25mg per kg body weight, which translates to a range of 1,136-2,272mg daily consumption of quercetin when in isolation.
  • It is suggested to supplement with other bioflavonoids such as resveratrolgenistein, or green tea catechins to increase the potency synergistically and theoretically get the benefits at a reduced level of intake.
  • When looking for quercetin, the form of dihydrate has the apparent best bioavailability followed by glycosides, aglycone, and finally rutinoside.
Fisetin is a molecular cousin to quercetin. Fisetin is a naturally occurring substance found in fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, apples, grapes, onions, and cucumbers. 

Substances like fisetin reduce inflammation (R,R) and help the body to clear senescent cells, leading to an increased lifespan (R).

Fisetin has shown to reduce aging-related increase in inflammation and lower toxic substances senescent cells secrete which damage stem cells (R).  

5. NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide)

NMN is a substance that increases NAD levels in our cells. NAD is a pivotal molecule to protect and repair DNA and the epigenome, including in stem cells.

NMN can improve and protect stem cells such as mesenchymal stem cells that form bone and fat tissue (R,R).

Researchers from the East China University of Science and Technology in China show that nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) — an NAD+ precursor known to elevate NAD+ levels — helps to maintain the functional longevity of stem cells in a dish, which can lead to improved effectiveness of stem cell therapies. As published in Antioxidants (2023), Zheng and colleagues report that NMN enhances stem cell migration, diminishes stem cell ROS, and prevents stem cell senescence.

6. Vitamin C and AKG (Alpha KetoGlutarate)

Vitamin C can also improve stem cell health (R,R).

But ideally, vitamin C has help from alpha-ketoglutarate, given these two substances are substrates for important epigenetic enzymes, such as the TET enzymes (R).

7. 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]

8. Glycine (Amino Acid)

Glycine is a naturally-occuring substance in our body; in fact, it’s an amino acid. However, during aging, levels of glycine decline.

Glycine has shown to improve stem cell health (R,R). It can do this by protecting proteins in cells, or by inducing autophagy, which is the digestion of cellular waste.

9. Molecular Hydrogen

Molecular hydrogen is the smallest anti-oxidant. The ability of molecular hydrogen (H2) to protect the DNA and the mitochondria from oxidative damage may have beneficial effects on chronic diseases and cancer. But perhaps it could help slow down or reverse the aging process itself. A couple of cellular studies give us some interesting clues [R, R].

It was already discovered that hydrogen can prolong the life of stem cells by reducing oxidative stress
(Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010).

A hydrogen-rich environment reduced both oxidative stress and aging in cells. Some scientists think
that drinking hydrogen water could increase longevity in humans (Circ J. 2016).

10. Olive oil and Mediterranean Diet

PubMed has indexed 30 research studies on olive oil and stem cell.

A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil is effective in boosting stem cells. A 4-week control study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2011) showed that compared to those on a diet high in saturated fat or a diet low in fat but high in carbohydrates, those on a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil showed a significant doubling in their endothelial progenitor cell count in the blood.

Epoch Times Photo


11. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains flavanols that have biological properties. Researchers at the University of California recruited patients with coronary artery disease in a 30-day controlled trial. One group drank hot chocolate low in flavanols (only nine mg per serving) twice a day, and the other group drank hot chocolate high in flavanols (containing 375 mg per serving) twice a day. The results were surprising: the group with high-level flavanol had twice as many stem cells in their blood as that with low-level flavanol, and the former’s blood flow improved twice as much as the latter.

12. Black tea

team of Italian researchers divided patients who had mild to moderate hypertension but did not receive medication into two groups. Group A drank plain black tea without sugar and milk twice a day while group B drank other beverages twice a day. One week later, blood tests showed the number of endothelial progenitor cells in the blood in the black-tea group rose by 56 percent, with an improved ability of blood vessel widening.

13. L-Carnosine (Amino Acid)

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 [R]
  • Increase lean muscle [R]
  • Improve cardiovascular performance [study]

14. Leucine (Amino Acid)

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 [R]

15. Taurine

Stem cells hold the key to tissue repair and regeneration. But as the body ages, its numbers and activity decline.

Studies have shown that taurine can help stimulate stem cell production (Nutr Neurosci 2017), particularly neural stem cells, which can boost brain function, in addition to regenerating various tissues throughout the body.

16. Blue Green Algae

The Science Behind: Bluegreen Algae (AFA) Consumption over 48 Hours Increases the Total Number of Peripheral CD34+ Cells in Healthy Patients (Journal of Personalized Medicine 2020).

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). 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.

Sources and References: 

This article is part of the Anti Aging series.


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