Spermidine has in my view the greatest origin story for any supplement ever. This is the kind of origin story superheroes could only dream of.
The punchline is that, yes, as the name implies, it comes from sperm.
Do I act like I’m 12 years old? Sort of. But it gets better. Anthon Van Leeuwenhoek (yes, the guy who invented the microscope) discovered it in the 1600s when he decided to put sperm, presumably his own, under a microscope and look at it. Why why why. That, I don’t have the answer to. I hope that answer was for science.
Fortunately, for us, we now know partly thanks to Leeuwenhoek, that spermidine has an array of health benefits.
Promote Healthy Aging
Support Memory and Cognitive Health in older people
Provide anti-inflammatory properties
Today You Don’t Need to Get Spermidine From Male Ejaculate
(Although, I suppose, you totally could, and you could view it as a potentially positive side effect if giving blow jobs. For legal reasons I can’t recommend this, but I wish I could.)
Spermidine is very popular as a supplement, and we cover the best options in this article on the best spermidine supplements.
You Can Also Get it From Various Foods, Both Plant and Animal Sources
A 2019 study in Frontiers in Nutrition outlined the best sources. They use the term “polyamines” which is a class of organic compounds that includes spermidine among others, while this 2011 study in Food Nutrition Research created a food database for polyamines.
Here we’ll outline some of the most abundant sources based on their research. To sum it up, here’s what the researchers said. “Spermidine content was high in dry soy bean, chicken liver, green peas, corn, shellfish, and blue cheese. A high content of spermine was found in most of the meat products (like sausages, pork, chicken, and turkey), some vegetables (like pumpkin), and cheese.”
I made a table based on some of the results of this study.
Food Spermidine Content (mg/kg) Soybeans 128-207 Aged Cheddar Cheese 200 Mushroom 89 Ground Beef 71 Chicken Liver 72 Grilled Chicken Breast 17 Rice Bran 51 Green Peas 46-65 Mustard 34 Sardines 12 Peanuts 16 Blue Cheese 24
As I go through the most abundant sources, I have them listed in milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg.) Yes, I know you’re not going to eat a kilogram of green peas. However, keep in mind that spermidine supplements typically have between 1-5mg of spermidine. That means you won’t need a lot. It also means for foods where you eat a high quantity (like chicken), even a modest spermidine amount per kilogram means you’ll get a lot overall.
First I’ll start with the ones that had the highest numbers overall, then I’ll discuss some that have less, but I find practical to keep their spermidine content in mind.
Also note that these are all averages. Spermidine content will vary.
Per the study, dried soybeans had on average 128-207 mg/kg of spermidine. That’s a lot. You can buy soybeans, which are also a solid plant-based source of protein.
Personally, I’ll just eat them in my overpriced, boujie poke bowls in the West Village.
Aged Cheddar Cheese
Specifically, cheddar cheese aged for at least one year. The non-aged stuff won’t get it done. So break up the charcuterie board, I guess?
A nice vegetable to mix up as a side dish. For lazy chefs (like me) I’ll just eat them raw in a salad.
For meat eaters, this is a huge win.
I’ve never eaten this and probably never will. Which is why I’m going to give chicken breast the honorable mention.
Grilled Chicken Breast
No, this isn’t as high as others, but it’s much more practical.
Again, not sure I’ll ever eat this. The practical option here is whole wheat bread, which has 24 mg/kg.
Peas are an underrated vegetable. Why do they get so much hate?
More Honorable Mentions
These ones aren’t as high, but I think they deserve a nod.
Mustard – 34 mg/kg: Put it on your burger and you have spermidine on spermidine.
Sardines – 12 mg/kg: High in omega-3s, extremely portable, gets so much unwarranted hate.
Peanuts – 16 mg/kg: This means peanut butter also has some, which is huge.
Blue Cheese – 24mg/kg: I like to put it on salads.
So It Seems A Healthy Diet Wins Again
I know you’ve heard from people like me over and over and over about the importance of a healthy diet. That’s because for every superfood out there, dozens of supplements exist trying to extract its ingredients. Now, the supplements have their place, of course, but maybe you should try eating peas first, or some other foods high in spermidine.
About the Author
David is a writer and strength coach and co-owner of Roman Fitness Systems. In addition to helping run RFS, he’s also the head editor for
prohockeystrength.com., the official website of the Strength and Conditioning Association of Professional Hockey. You can also check out his Instagram, he’s pretty easy on the eyes.