Written by Emilina Lomas, Supplement Reviews UK’s Nutritionist, Personal Trainer and Wellness coach.
You may or may not have come across the term ‘biohacking,’ initially coined in a 1988 Washington Post article discussing biotechnology being brought to the masses. But it was made popular by experts like Dave Asprey and Ben Greenfield, who developed an interest in optimising human performance by way of supplements, nutrient timing, sleep and other health hacks. These in essence ‘hack’ your biology to leave you feeling your best and performing at optimal capacity.
Can we learn to bio-hack our own bodies, and if so, where do we start?
The most researched form of biohacking is with the use of supplements. So, let’s explore some of the top vitamins and nutrients used for biohacking to boost your performance.
Nutrients Used for Biohacking
Magnesium can actually reverse the effects of stress on your brain which is particularly useful if you have a high stress job, a lot of responsibilities or are going through a difficult time. Stress is characterised by high cortisol levels that over time impact cognitive functioning, memory capacity, ability to make sound decisions and can lead to serious health problems.
Magnesium can essentially reverse the impact of chronic stress on the brain. But not only will it bring you back up to baseline in terms of your memory and cognitive function, it will actually improve total functionality
Magnesium is also vital to ATP production, so low magnesium means low brain energy which will impact your performance in fitness, at work and in your personal life.
A recent study found that almost all people are deficient in magnesium due to soil depletion and the change in farming practices. It’s difficult to get sufficient magnesium from your diet alone, which is why supplementation is key.
Vitamin D is a great cognitive enhancer because it protects you from free radical damage. According to Bulletproof, vitamin D is the most important bio-hack. It acts on over 1,000 different genes and serves as a substrate for sex hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone and oestrogen.
It moderates immune function and inflammation which is at the route of all illnesses and chronic diseases. Humans make vitamin D on their own via the sun, but to get sufficient you’d need 30 minutes a day of direct sun exposure, so there’s no surprise as to why most people are deficient in it.
30 minutes of direct sun exposure is also pretty bad in terms of skin damage, which is why a lot of biohackers have favoured supplements over sun. The NHS also recommends supplementation for adults and children over the age of one with 10mcg of vitamin D during the autumn and winter months.
The B vitamins are always close to a biohackers heart. They fight off the amino acid homocysteine, which causes brain shrinkage potentially leading to Alzheimer’s. In fact, vitamin B may be able to decrease brain shrinkage by up to 90% and may make shrinkage seven times slower.
Vitamin K1 and K2
Vitamin K1 is found in leafy vegetables, which the majority of people don’t eat enough of, whilst Vitamin K2 is found in grass-fed animal products. Unlike humans, farming animals like cows and sheep covert K1 into K2 in their stomach as long as they are fed grass rather than grains.
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin involved in calcium metabolism. Excess calcium is deposited in arteries, leading to calcification and a decline in vascular function, which is not going to optimise your performance. Vitamin K2 plays a role in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and bone loss, which is particularly important as you get older.
“But this seems like a lot of vitamins to be taking daily…?” I can hear you asking to yourself. But I have the solution.
Performance Lab Whole-Food Multi
Performance Labs have created a biohackers dream – a product so encompassing that you only need to take one supplement per day to achieve enhanced cognitive and physical performance. This is the most effective biohacking supplement you can take.
Most multivitamins are low quality. For example, folate is a type of essential B vitamin, but folic acid is the common ingredient found in most multivitamins. Folic acid is not going to bring you the same benefits as folate and in fact, it has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. This may be why certain studies discount the benefits associated with multivitamin supplementation – not all supplements are equal!
Performance Lab multivitamin supplement is of the highest quality and do not use isolated or synthetic nutrient forms that are harder for the body to absorb and utilise. Grown on cultures under precise lab conditions, the vitamins used identically replicate those grown in nature.
Alongside the aforementioned nutrients, the product also contains nearly 30 nutrients in total guaranteed to bio-hack your performance to its optimal capacity.
It sounds pretty straight forward, but a study on sleep in the U.S. found that least half of all Americans say they suffer from insomnia and nearly 9 million are using prescription sleep medication at any given time. The solution is not sleeping pills because they come with an extensive list of side effects. The solution is sleep supplementation.
Biohacking your sleep to make the most of your shut eye is key to being happier, healthier, more productive and more effective during exercise. High quality, restorative sleep improves brain function, aids muscle recovery, boosts longevity, balances hormones, protects your heart and decreases body fat percentage.
So how do you bio hack your sleep?
Restrict blue light exposure from your phones and other technology, avoiding them or wearing blue light glasses; don’t drink coffee past 3pm or earlier if you are sensitive to caffeine and get yourself some blackout curtains. But if that still doesn’t work, you need to start supplementing.
My Choice: Performance Lab Sleep
This combines all the key nutrients to aid a restful night sleep in one easy pill, including:
It’s featuring for the second time on the list which really emphasises how important it is as a nutrient. Magnesium calms the nervous system impulses that are transmitted, meaning you will feel less jittery and anxious before bed. It soothes muscles to make you feel relaxed, which is particularly useful if you frequently weight train or have a high energy output.
Stress and mood imbalances impact sleep arguably more than anything else. The amino acid L-tryptophan converts in the brain to 5-HTP which then converts into serotonin, an important brain chemical for positive mood and relaxation. It also converts to melatonin in the GI tract, which promotes a calm, natural sedation before bed.
Montmorency tart cherry
This is the richest natural source of melatonin, which helps to regulate a natural circadian rhythm. This will optimise your performance during the day but will also help to relieve some anxiety about falling asleep. Unlike sleeping pills, the Performance Lab Sleep supplement will improve your quality sleep so that you will get to a point where you may not even need to supplement.
I say: If you want to reach the next level in your career, your personal life or your physical being you need to get into biohacking. By supplementing with some high-quality vitamins, you will be giving your body and mind the tools to optimise your cognitive functioning, recovery and performance. Raise the bar.