Top 5 Shilajit Supplements

Shilajit Supplement BenefitsShilajit is often referred to as an Ayurvedic “herb”, but it isn’t exactly herbaceous – it’s an exudate that oozes from cracks in the hot rocks of the Himalaya, Tibet, Causcaus, and Altai mountains.

Shilajit is a thick, tar-like substance that is formed over millions of years from the compression of plant and animal material between rock layers so it does contain some herbal remnants as well as a wide range of therapeutic minerals. It’s sort of a herb/mineral hybrid.

While the concept of taking therapeutic doses of ancient compost strikes some of us as little nasty, Ayurvedic medicine has used shilajit for thousands of years as a cure-all general tonic.

This tar-like substance is now gaining attention from western herbal medicine for its potent adaptogenic, energy boosting, and memory boosting actions.

Not All Shilajit Is Made Equal

The chemical composition and subsequent therapeutic potency of shilajit depends on a huge range of factors during its formation:

  • Minerals present
  • Humidity and temperature
  • Indigenous plants
  • Presence of mould and bacteria
  • Atmospheric and geological pressures [1]

The chemical composition also depends on whether the shilajit is raw or processed, formed into a resin, capsule or powder (more on this later).

There Are Two Quality Grades of Supplemental Shilajit:

  1. Pulverised & Unprocessed Shilajit: Contains around 60% of organic materials (e.g. fulvic acids, amino acids, humic acid, waxes, steroids, essential fatty acids, vitamins) and 40% minerals (e.g. calcium, potassium and magnesium) [1] [2] . Unprocessed shilajit is used by traditional healers local to shilajit sites, but it isn’t safe for commercial manufacturing as it can contain high levels of heavy metals and toxins.
  2. Purified & Processed Shilajit: Shilajit can be purified through water extraction or citrate buffered processes and then concentrated with heat or sunlight. This removes most of the heavy metals and organic materials, leaving a concentration of ~60% fulvic acid, 10% minerals, and 0.5% DBPs [2].

Shilajit & Fulvic Acid Concentration

The therapeutic actions of shilajit is partly thanks to the naturally occurring concentration of fulvic acid in the resin. Fulvic acid is an organic substance that contains other key nutrients for health like silica, trace minerals, electrolytes, fatty acids and antioxidants. Generally, therapeutic shilajit contains 40 – 60% fulvic acid.

But here’s the twist:

Looking for shilajit supplements with high levels of fulvic acid isn’t a guarantee of potency. Fulvic acid is very hard to test for and legitimately pure shilajit products can rarely claim the percentage of fulvic acid on their labelling. Some manufactures may add poorly-absorbed forms of fulvic acid to their low-grade shilajit products so they can boost the amount they can claim. So, in theory this should boost the therapeutic action of shilajit, right? And while we’re at it, why not just take fulvic acid on its own?

Fulvic acid is only one small part of shilajit’s therapeutic powers:

The other class of active agents in Shilajit: Dibenzo-alpha-pyrones

Dibenzo-a-pyrones (DBPs) are metabolites that are randomly formed within the human large intestine and also found in some types of fungi, plants and animal faeces – the kind of stuff that was compressed within mountain ranges to form shilajit.

In the human body, DBPs are used as intermediates between the synthesis of chemicals like cannabinoids, sex hormones, and cytotoxic compounds. They’ve been shown to have strong antioxidant activity by acting as electron reservoirs and they may have therapeutic use as anti-tumour, antimicrobial and allergy-fighting molecules [3]. DBPs have a synergistic relationship with fulvic acid which makes sense since they’re found together in shilajit. Good quality shilajit contains 0.5% – 1% dibenzo-alpha-pyrones – it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s enough to differentiate effective and ineffective shilajit products.

  • An early study in 1995 showed that shilajit had comparable antioxidant activity to vitamin C. Researchers also found that the DBP content of the shilajit regenerated the vitamin C so it could continue acting as an antioxidant [4].
  • Another study in 1995 demonstrated that shilajit could protect against hydroxyl and nitric oxide free radical attack, and that the higher doses provided more protection [5].

Traditional Uses for Shilajit (Why Supplement?)

Ayurvedic and folk medicine has used shilajit for a wide range of applications, earning the herbo-mineral the title of Ramayana, an all-round tonic for its use in:

  • Stomach disorders
  • Bone fractures
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Muscle strains and sprains
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Blood sugar regulation [2]

While thousands of years of anecdotal evidence exists not a lot of modern, well-designed studies have been done on the therapeutic uses of shilajit. That hasn’t stopped it being used widely across the world – Olympic athletes in the former USSR used shilajit to reduce stress-related injuries and improve recovery [1].

Based on the small body of evidence available it’s clear that shilajit does have promise as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and energy-boosting supplement:

Shilajit for Energy Production

Cellular energy (ATP) is produced through a series of electron transfers. Shilajit-derived DBPs act as reservoirs of electrons to supply this process and boost energy production. Studies also show that shilajit may boost the activity of CoQ10, another potent antioxidant and key nutrient for ATP synthesis [6]. Together, CoQ10 and BDPs may help to protect the mitochondrial membrane against free radical attack.

  • Six people took 200mg of processed shilajit for 15 days and reported feelings of more energy and increased exercise frequency, with confirmed biomarkers of energy increase (ATP, ATP/ADP ratio, CoQ10, and uric acids) [7]. Unfortunately this study was funded by a shilajit manufacturer and has very few participants – it’d be great to see an independent clinical trial to confirm these findings.

While this is interesting, we do not believe that Shilajit can adequately replace quality CoQ10 supplements.

Shilajit for Cardio Protection

High cholesterol and heart disease are associated with inflammation and free radical attack. With its fierce antioxidant action, shilajit could help to protect the cardiovascular system by quenching free radical stress. Traditional healing modalities have used shilajit for this purposes for thousands of years. While there is limited clinical trial evidence available, what has been investigated shows promise:

  • A small 30-participant study compared the effects of 2,000mg of processed shilajit against a placebo for 45 days. The shilajit group showed lower total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL and triglycerides, and higher levels of antioxidants in the blood [8].

Testosterone, Sperm Production & Shilajit

Ayurvedic medicine uses shilajit for the management of many male reproductive disorders including low libido, poor fertility, and sluggish energy – classic symptoms of low testosterone levels. Shilajit may work to boost total and free testosterone by stimulating the hypothalamus and could protect against free radical attack on developing sperm.

  • A 90 day study found that a total daily dose of 500mg of shilajit significantly increased testosterone synthesis and secretion in healthy male volunteers aged 45 – 55, particularly when compared to a placebo group [9].
  • In 2010, a study also showed increased testosterone levels in infertile male participants, along with improved sperm count and sperm motility from a total dose of 200mg of shilajit per day for 90 days [10].

Based on these results, its no surprise that many new testosterone boosters contain Shilajit in their formulas.

How To Take Shilajit

First, a fair warning: shilajit is said to smell similar to “stale cow’s urine”. Others describe it more kindly as having a strong, almost unbearably smokey smell and bitter taste. One reviewer said it smells and tastes “how you’d expect a new car tire to smell”. If you can get past all that, shilajit is easy enough to take. Supplements come as a resin paste, powder or encapsulated. The paste is said to be the most pure form which can be diluted with water, but if you have a sensitive palate, capsules are an easy way to avoid the unpalatable taste.

Shilajit resin: Shilajit resin products are the closest you can get to the shilajit that first oozes out of the mountainside. While commercial shilajit resin has been purified to remove heavy metals, it is still the purest, most concentrated form with the highest potency of fulvic acid, DBPs, vitamins and minerals. It’s easy to pick authentic shilajit resin – it should be glossy and melt easily without leaving behind any residue or film.

How to take Shilajit Resin: Dilute a small pea-size amount of shilajit resin in warm or tepid water. It should dissolve easily and taste really gross.

Powdered shilajit: Shilajit powders are made from resin that has been dried and processed. This reduces the concentration of vitamins and minerals in the product and makes it hard to spot a counterfeit product.

How to take Shilajit Powder: Powders should be fairly easily dissolved in water. Follow the product’s directions for dosage.

Shilajit capsules: Capsules use powdered forms, and make it even harder to spot a diluted or fake product — manufacturers can add fillers, additives and flow agents to dilute the shilajit concentration within each capsule. On the plus side, capsules are the easiest way to take shilajit without dealing with the bitter taste and potent smell. Always check the ingredients label and buy from trusted companies.

When To Take Shilajit

Shilajit should be taken with or after food to avoid gastrointestinal upsets. Take with plenty of water.

Shilajit Dosage Range

Taking doses of 100mg – 300mg twice per day have been shown to be safe and effective for most people [9][10].

CAUTION: Because of the limited safety studies performed on shilajit, it may be best to avoid taking this supplement if you have liver or kidney disease, or any serious health condition. See a qualified physician or herbalist who can give you personalised advice for your particular circumstances.

Shilajit Side Effects & Cautions

  • Iron Overload: Shilajit is rich in iron, which is great news if you’re iron deficient. Speak to your doctor and have your iron levels regularly checked while taking shilajit. Do NOT take shilajit if you have high levels of iron, thalassemia or iron-related conditions
  • Uric Acid: Shilajit has been shown to boost uric acid production. Do NOT use shilajit if you have kidney stones, gout, blood pressure issues, or any kidney conditions. Speak to your physician for personalised advice.
  • Blood Sugar: Shilajit has been traditionally used for blood sugar dysregulation and diabetes. Taking shilajit may alter insulin secretions. Use extreme caution when taking shilajit if you have diabetes, are taking insulin medication, or have blood sugar issues. Speak to your physician for personalised advice.
  • Pregnancy & Breastfeeding: There are no studies to date investigating the safety of shilajit in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Do NOT take shilajit if you are pregnant, might become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Speak to your doctor or herbalist for personalised advice.

5 Best Shilajit Supplements

#5 Ayur Sante Shilajit-Extract (300mg 60 capsules)

Shilajit SupplementCapsules aren’t the most condensed, powerful form of shilajit on the market but if you’re looking for an easy way to stomach a therapeutic dose then this is a great option. Ayur Sante have had their shilajit independently lab tested and certified as being free from heavy metals and contaminants, and their products are free from dairy, gluten and additives. Each capsule will deliver 600mg of purified shilajit, including 300mg of fulvic acid – one capsule a day is enough for a therapeutic dose.

#4 Sunfood Shilajit Powder (3.5oz / 100g)

Shilajit Powder Supplement by SunfoodSunfood’s powdered shilajit supplement is a gentle entry point into taking shilajit. The taste of the powder is not as strong or astringent as resins and it’s easily mixed into water, tea or nut milk. The benefit of taking a powder is that it’s easily adapted to your personal therapeutic dose, starting at 1/8 of a teaspoon.

#3 NutriHoney Shilajit Resin with Raw Organic Honey (15g in 30 sticks)

Shilajit Resin SupplementHere’s the perfect way to get around the taste and smell of potent shilajit resin – add honey! NutriHoney have combined pure extracted shilajit with raw organic honey and packaged them together in easy-to-use squeeze sticks. Other resins can be tough to get out of the jar and measure dosages, and the potent smell can be off-putting. If you are looking for a shilajit supplement that is easy to take and easy to dose without compromising on potency, then this is it!

#2 Pürblack Live Resin Shilajit (30g)

PurBlack Shilajit ResinPürblack have combined potent, purified shilajit with other regional mineral resins in a sleek product design. This is a great supplement if you’re looking for high concentration of minerals and shilajit’s antioxidant properties. The only downside is that the resin can be hard to get out of the jar, and it tastes, well, like shilajit should: gross. Combine with warm water and honey to get it down easier, and check out the product reviews for a slew of anecdotal evidence about shilajit.

#1 Lotus Blooming Herbs Authentic Shilajit (10g)

Best Shilajit Resin SupplementThis is the legit stuff – purified shilajit in its most potent form. This shilajit resin has been FDA-evaluated, and has been batch-tested to ensure safe levels of heavy metals and toxins. Remember what we said about checking the authenticity of shilajit by looking at the texture? Lotus Blooming Herbs has the real stuff – the texture is more like a gum than a resin and it dissolves very quickly in warm or tepid water. This is the best shilajit supplement if you’re looking for pure, potent shilajit sourced from the Himalaya mountains.

View Lotus Authentic Shilajit on Amazon Here

Further Reading:

About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

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