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Sulforaphane Supplements for Nrf2 Activation

Sulforaphane Supplements for Nrf2 Activation

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Sulforaphane supplements have received attention from Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Tim Ferriss. So what is it? It’s a sulfur-rich compound frequently found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage. It’s been linked to digestive and heart health benefits. While you can get the benefits of the compound by eating raw or lightly steamed veggies, some of us don’t love raw or crunchy broccoli or bok choy. So we looked for other ways to get the benefits.

Jed Fahey, a leading researcher in the field, warns us to be careful of which Sulforaphane supplements we use. Just like many other supplements, not all are created equal.

There are 3 main ways to get sulforaphane:

  1. Pure Sulforaphane – Average bioavailability of 70%*
  2. Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase – Average bioavailability of 35%*
  3. Glucoraphanin – Average bioavailability of 10%*

* Bioavailability numbers come from Jed Fahey’s research at John Hopkins. See source #3 below for more info.

Below is a list of the best Sulforaphane supplements. All are currently used by Jed Fahey’s team at John Hopkins University in their clinical studies:


Image of bottle of Thorne sulforaphane supplements. Thorne Research offers a wonderful supplement of concentrated glucoraphanin –  Crucera-SGS.

Crucera-SGS comes in 60 tablet packs, doses at 1 tablet per day, so 2 months supply.

As briefly mentioned above, although the supplement ingredients read “Sulforaphane Glucosinolate”, this isn’t to be confused with active sulforaphane (found in prostaphane). Sulforaphane Glucosinolate is actually Glucoraphanin before it has been transformed by the enzyme myrosinase, into sulforaphane.



Image of bottle of Avmacol sulforaphane supplements.
The next best alternative to active sulforaphane is consuming the precursor glucoraphanin alongside the activation enzyme myrosinase.

Avmacol is a high-end supplement made by Nutramax Laboratories. It is glucoraphanin extracted from Broccoli seeds, plus the active myrosinase enzyme.

Each Avmacol pack contains 60 tablets, which at 2 tablets per day, is a 1 months supply.



Image of box and tablets of Prostaphane sulforaphane supplements.
Consuming active sulforaphane itself has the greatest potential effect (measured using a term called bioavailability). Currently, there is only one free-form stabilized sulforaphane product on the market. Its name is Prostaphane and is manufactured in France by a company called Nutrinov.

You may see products advertising that they contain Sulforaphane (specifically Sulforaphane Glucosinolate), however, it should be noted that this is misleading. while it’s technically accurate to say that they contain the glucosinolate form of sulforaphane, actually they contain glucoraphanin. It then needs to be converted into sulforaphane via myrosinase.

To recap:

  • All 3 Sulforaphane supplements mentioned above are currently used in clinical trials by John Hopkins University. This means that they’ve been tested and confirmed to contain what they say.
  • The most bioavailable Sulforaphane supplements you can buy is called prostaphane, but so far, is only distributed in France.
  • The next most bioavailable (and accessible in the USA) is Avmacol, because it bundles the enzyme myrosinase alongside its glucoraphanin.

Growing Your Own Broccoli Sprouts

Ok, so you don’t love raw or steamed broccoli and you don’t want supplements. No problem. There’s the option of broccoli sprouts, and they’re easy enough to grow.

Just about anyone can grow broccoli sprouts, you just need a seed sprouter (Rhonda uses Ball jars + sprouter lids, but any jar + mesh will do), and some organic broccoli sprout seeds. This video gives a good overview of how to produce your own.

To get the recommended downstage of sulforaphane from sprouts, you need to eat between 67 and 134 g of sprouts. Dr. Rhonda eats about 4 oz of sprouts a few times a week. 4 oz of sprouts is about 113 g (for those of us not versed in conversion!) So how much do you plant? Ok, if you plant 1 oz of broccoli seeds, you’ll get about 5 oz of sprouts. It’s a 1 to 5 conversion. You’ll need to plant and harvest weekly, so keep seeds on hand and make a routine. But since seeds are generally pretty cheap, you could have a sustainable and affordable way to include sulforaphane in your diet.

If you’re not big on just chowing down on a plate of sprouts, throw them in a smoothie! remember, you don’t want to cook them into anything like a casserole, as overcooking reduces the amount and benefits of the compound. Dr. Rhonda has one more way she treats her sprouts.

Rhonda’s video on tripling the bioavailability of sulforaphane sprouts gently heats the sprouts to 70C, hot enough that it disables the epithiospecifier protein, but not too hot that it disables the myrocinase enzyme (responsible for converting the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane).

She uses a Family temperature monitor to ensure she gets the water at 70C.

Image of Dr. Rhonda Patrick's broccoli sprouting setup.

Rhonda’s broccoli sprouting setup. Complete with Ball jars, sprouting lids, regular teapot, a family temperature monitor, and Blendtec blender.

Article Sources

  1. Chemoprotection Center At John Hopkins University FAQ
  2. Jed Fahey Interview on Rhonda Patrick’s Podcast
  3. Further publications from John Hopkins University research

P.S. Check out this post on supplements that Rhonda Patrick takes – these can make good additions to sulforaphane.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

  • Dr. Rhonda Patrick’s Preferred Supplement List (article link)
  • Rhonda Patrick’s Diet Details – Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (article link)
  • Tim Ferriss’ Preferred Nootropic Choices (article link)
  • Rhonda Patrick’s Pregnancy + Baby Product Recommendations (article link)


Tuesday 5th of June 2018

Wouldn't Rhonda's approach be better done by heating the water, immediately blending the sprouts at the target temperature, then putting the blending material back on the target temperature for an additional nine minutes? This was you expose the myrosinase to the sulforaphane precursors at the desired temperature and sustain the reaction for 10 minutes. Doing things as Rhonda does in the video, the myrosinase remains trapped in the fiber of the sprout and only gets activated when she blends, at which point she is not leaving it at the target temperature for 10 minutes.


Friday 12th of October 2018

Your suggestion isn't necessary. If you look at the paper Rhonda references, you'll find the explanation. Heating the sprouts intact to 70C reduces ESP activity so when blending afterward, less sulforaphane nitrile is formed, enabling an equivalent increase in myrosinase-catalyzed, formation of sulforaphane.


Friday 11th of May 2018

If you grow your own sprouts, most mason jars cap threads will fit most blender screw-on bottom. I don't know the correct term for it. It's not the motor base, but the screw on that holds the teeth of the blender. So sprout away, add stuff in the jar, blend away.


Monday 9th of April 2018

I was wondering if anyone knew if this would also be an effective supplement to take?

This was one of the few Sulforaphane supplements out there I could find that was myrosinase activated.


Sunday 18th of February 2018

I was under the impression that Dr. Rhonda was freezing the sprouts, not heating them. Am I wrong? Could have sworn I heard her say that in a video somewhere.


Saturday 13th of October 2018

She stated she does it both ways on JRE podcast. 3.5times stronger is the freezer. That's where mine are.


Saturday 13th of January 2018

What happens if you immediately chill the sprouts after bringing them to 70 degrees Celsius to make the blended liquid more palatable?