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Photograph of Cooper Clinic Founder Dr. Kenneth Cooper

Cooper Aerobics Founder and Chairman Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, starts his daily routine at 7 a.m. He sees patients at Cooper Clinic, attends various meetings, gives lectures and presentations and ends every day with a 5:30 p.m. workout.

Dr. Cooper credits his exercise routine and healthy diet for his health and longevity. Yet, even sometimes the Father of Aerobics can come up short. That’s why he follows a strict daily supplement regimen. Here, he reveals which supplements he relies on to stay healthy.

Q: Did you grow up taking vitamins?

A: I took a daily multivitamin called the Alphabet Tablet from about age 12 until I went to medical school. My father was a periodontist and became convinced of the benefits of nutrition and supplementation on gum health and disease. He found patients with pyorrhea and gingivitis who ate a diet low in sugar and high in vegetables and took a multivitamin had much better gum health than patients who didn’t.

In medical school, I was taught vitamins were a waste of time. They only made the pharmacist rich and the toilet water expensive. Undeniably, I confess I critiqued my father back in the early days and I stopped taking vitamins.

When I transferred from the Army to the Air Force, I started working with the astronaut program. I began researching vitamins, particularly vitamin C for immunity and iron.

I spent time trying to quantify the impact of vitamins. After the first Cooper Complete study was published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showing a reduction of LDL (bad) cholesterol, homocysteine, and C-reactive protein, I started taking multivitamins.

Q: Is there a particular multivitamin you take?

A: I take Cooper Complete Original Iron Free, four tablets in the morning with breakfast and four tablets in the evening with dinner. I like taking the eight-tablet-a-day formula as it contains coenzyme Q10.

Original Multivitamin Iron Free

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Q: Which multivitamin do you recommend to your patients?

A: For my patients, I recommend a minimum of Cooper Complete Basic One multivitamin and mineral formulation. For patients with cardiac disease, I also put them on a minimum of 100 mg coenzyme Q10.

Q: What about vitamin D?

A: I get 50 mcg (2,000 IU) vitamin D in the Cooper Complete Original Iron Free multivitamin plus an additional 125 mcg (5,000 IU) from Cooper Complete Vitamin D3. That has elevated my vitamin D blood level to  57 ng/mL, which is the desired level if you want to protect yourself from developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. New research shows adequate vitamin D levels may even reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Q: Do you take omega-3 fatty acids?

A: Yes, I take 2 grams twice a day−two of our Advanced Omega-3 softgels at breakfast and two at dinner (which provides a total of 1,420 mg EPA and 960 mg DHA). This keeps my omega-3 level around 10 or 11 percent. I also eat a lot of seafood, at least two servings per week-preferably salmon.

I also take 2 grams of omega-3 because of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. After fracturing my leg in 2004 while snow skiing, I find I have leg pain if I don’t take this level of omega 3.

At Cooper Clinic, we run the HS-Omega-3 Index® test, which measures the amount of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) in the blood. The average omega-3 index in the United States is between 4-5 percent. At Cooper Clinic, we aim for the patient to score at levels of at least 8 percent.

Q: You mentioned inflammation and joint pain. Do you also take Cooper Complete Joint Health?

Joint Health Supplement

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A: Yes, I’ve been taking Cooper Complete Joint Health, with glucosamine and chondroitin, for many years. While I no longer jog, I walk, and this combination helps keep me pain-free.

Q: Many adults have issues with insomnia. What do you suggest for these patients?

A: Sleep is a major problem for many adults and adequate sleep is imperative for brain health. Both too little and too much sleep is dangerous to our health. For this reason, I recommend a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night and not more than 10 hours per night. Too much sleep can lead to cardiovascular problems from extended inactivity.

I confess I’m a bit of a night owl and I often find a short nap in the afternoon is very beneficial. President John F. Kennedy took a 45-minute nap after lunch, and I remember my dad always broke away at lunchtime and took a 30-minute nap.

While I don’t take melatonin, I find about 50 percent of patients who take melatonin find it helps them sleep. The recommended dose is 3-6 mg of melatonin daily.

Q: How do you remember to take your supplements?

A: It’s just a habit. We keep them in the kitchen. I’ve found that if I miss a few days my knee starts hurting, so that’s a good motivation for me to remember.

I do feel my combination of regular physical activity, vitamin supplementation, diet and weight, which is the same it was in high school, is the reason I’m in good health and enjoying a good life at 89 years of age.

Q: Do you take any non-Cooper vitamins or supplements?

A:  I add one tablespoon of Benecol® margarine to my oatmeal every morning. One tablespoon with oatmeal helps keep my cholesterol under control. (Note: One tablespoon of Benecol® Spread contains 0.5 grams of plant stanols, an ingredient derived from natural plant sources, proven to reduce cholesterol levels). Also, I am now taking 50 mg of zinc along with my vitamin D hopefully in an effort to protect me against COVID-19 infections.

As a reminder, your physician understands your health profile best, so it’s important to talk to him or her about which supplements are best for you.

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