Chris Masterjohn, PhD: The Truth About Collagen, Optimizing Iron Levels, and the Little-Known Skin Vitamin – The Genius Life

Check out The Genius Life Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re losing weight (AKA burning fat, or just eating a diet high in fat) or frequently exercise, your body has a higher need for riboflavin
  • Eat more riboflavin-rich foods:
    • At the top of the list – liver, kidney, hearts, almonds, seaweed, and mushrooms
    • Secondarily – red meat, egg yolks, cheese, and salmon
  • Riboflavin is important for the utilization and absorption of iron in the body
    • Many people are iron deficient, but the root cause is actually a riboflavin deficiency (this is why many women, despite supplementing with iron, don’t experience an increase in their iron levels)
  • Plants are filled with tons of iron (even more than steak), but they also contain many iron absorption inhibitors
  • Supplementing with glycine before bed can help you fall asleep quicker as it lowers your core body temperature

Products and Supplements Mentioned

  • *No specific supplement brands were mentioned*
  • Supplementing with 3 grams of glycine before bed helps you fall asleep quicker and also increases sleep quality
    • How so? – It lowers your core body temperature (and as you know, if your body temperature doesn’t lower, you can’t fall asleep)
  • Taking 3-5 grams of glycine with a meal has been shown to stabilize blood sugar
  • Asthmatics have very low glutathione levels
    • Supplementing can aid wheeziness (glutathione makes an endogenous brochodilator in the lungs)
  • Oysters are of the most nutrient-dense foods on Earth (they’re super high in zinc and vitamin B12)
  • One of the main benefits of supplementing with collagen is that it’s packed with glycine, an amino acid many are lacking in

Books Mentioned

Intro

Riboflavin

  • Riboflavin is a micronutrient important for energy metabolism, skin health, and general health (from the perspective of keeping you young/healthy)
    • Riboflavin is also important for protecting tissues, joints, and skin from wearing down over time as you age (AKA antioxidant defense)
      • But in the short term, producing energy is more important than protecting tissues from wearing down
  • You need 2x the amount of riboflavin to burn fat as you do to burn carbs
    • If you’re limited in the amount of riboflavin you intake, it’s used to produce energy/ATP, NOT for tissue protection
    • So – if you’re burning lots of fat (if you’re on a fat loss diet or just eat a diet high in fat), you tend to redirect riboflavin away from antioxidant defense and put it towards burning fat for energy
      • “If you’re actively losing weight, your riboflavin needs go up 60%”
      • If you frequently do cardio (20-50 minutes per day for 5-6 days/week), this increases your need for riboflavin as well (assumed to by 60%)
        • So if you’re dieting on top of frequently doing cardio, your need for riboflavin increases by 120%! (2.2 fold)
  • How can you combat the above? – Eat more riboflavin-rich foods
    • At the top of the list – Liver, kidney, hearts, almonds, seaweed, and mushrooms
    • Secondarily – red meat, egg yolks, cheese, and salmon
  • “Many people are not eating riboflavin-rich foods to begin with and then they throw on top of it all these assaults on riboflavin like dieting, exercise, and chronic cardio”

MTHFR & Riboflavin

  • MTHFR gene polymorphisms (which hurt methylation) double your riboflavin requirement
    • MTHFR is an enzyme that uses folate (vitamin B9) to support the process of methylation which is essential to mental and physical health)
      • MTHFR is a riboflavin dependent enzyme
    • One of the most common MTHFR polymorphisms is known as C677T
      • This polymorphism lowers MTHFR activity by lowering its binding affinity to riboflavin
  • So what can you do if you have a MTHFR gene polymoprhism (which can be determined with a 23andMe DNA Test)?
    • Increase your riboflavin consumption by 1.6 mg (which totals slightly more than double the requirement – the RDA is 1.3 mg)
    • If your dieting and exercising, add even more riboflavin into your diet

An Iron Deficiency May Be a Riboflavin Deficiency

  • Riboflavin is important for the utilization and absorption of iron in the body
    • Many people are iron deficient, but the root cause is actually a riboflavin deficiency (this is why many women, despite supplementing with iron, don’t experience an increase in their iron levels)
      • Instead – they should just be eating liver 
  • Plant proteins and egg whites inhibit iron absorption
    • Animal protein is the opposite
    • “Someone who eats a lot of plants and throws their yolks away and eats egg white omelettes is giving themselves anemia”
  • Polyphenols, oxalates, and phytates in plants all inhibit iron absorption
    • The takeaway – plants are filled with tons of iron (even more than steak), but they also contain many iron absorption inhibitors
  • “If I was anemic, I wouldn’t be eating lentils, I’d being eating a carnivore diet based on red meat, shell fish, and organ meats until the anemia resolved itself”

The Benefits of Collagen

  • There’s two main benefits to consuming collagen:
    • 1) Collagen is very high in glycine (an amino acid)
      • Collagen has very low methionine levels (a different amino acid which increases our need for glycine and is found in all proteins besides collagen)
        • On a muscle meat heavy diet (like one consisting of many skinless/boneless chicken breasts) we get tons of methionine, but not nearly enough glycine 
      • Think about what out ancestors did – they ate the WHOLE animal (including all the collagenous tissue – bones, tendons, connective tissues, skin, etc.)
    • 2) Collagen breaks down into collagen peptides that increase collagen synthesis in the skin and joints
  • Chris created a database that has the methionine/glycine ratios of certain foods, contained with recommendations on how to better balance them
  • There is one downside to collagen:
    • Anyone who’s prone to kidney stones or has a high level of calcium oxalate crystals in their urine should be careful supplementing
      • Why? – There are biochemical pathways which can take portions of the collagen peptide and turn it into oxalate
      • As background – it’s thought that vitamin B6 can lower urine oxalate levels

Glycine Can Help You Sleep

  • Supplementing with 3 grams of glycine before bed helps you fall asleep and also increases sleep quality
    • How so? – It lowers your core body temperature (and if your body temperature doesn’t lower, you can’t fall asleep)
  • Taking 3-5 grams of glycine with a meal has been shown to stabilize blood sugar
  • In schizophrenics, 60 grams of glycine per day has been shown to have anti-psychotic effects

What does it mean for Chris to live like a genius? (and books recommendations)

Additional Notes

  • Chris offers a micronutrient assessment cheat sheet – Testing Nutritional Status
    • For 20% off, use this link as well as the code “genius” for 20% off at checkout
  • Asthmatics have very low glutathione levels
    • Supplementing can aid wheeziness (glutathione makes an endogenous brochodilator in the lungs)
  • Oysters are of the most nutrient-dense foods (high in zinc and vitamin B12)
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