Learn Dr. Kenneth Cooper Supplement Recommendations
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Dr. Kenneth Cooper Supplement Recommendations

Photo of Cooper Clinic Founder Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH.

Cooper Aerobics Founder and Chairman Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH, starts his daily routine at 7 a.m. He comes into Cooper Clinic, attends various meetings, gives lectures and presentations and makes sure each day includes a 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, Dr. Kenneth Cooper reveals which supplements he relies on to stay healthy, and provides his general supplement recommendations. The two most important reasons fueling his passion for prevention are inactivity and obesity. The presence of inactivity is seen predominantly in the southern central part of the United States along the Mississippi River and much less on the West Coast, with Colorado having the lowest obesity rates. If one can control their diet, increase their exercise levels and manage their weight, they can keep chronic inflammation down.

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 that 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 those who didn’t.

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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 in the early days and 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. Then, 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. High levels of the homocysteine hormone have also been associated with heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Homocysteine is related to folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 levels. A study revealed supplementing with our Original Iron Free multivitamin lowered homocysteine 17.2 percent, C-reactive protein levels 32 percent, and oxidized LDL cholesterol 14.6 percent. This is why omega-3 supplementation works best when taken in conjunction with a multivitamin that contains these B vitamins (as well as vitamin D) in order to reduce chronic inflammation, which can lead to the onset of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Q: Is there a particular multivitamin supplement you take?

A: I take Cooper Complete Original With Iron, four tablets in the morning with breakfast and four tablets in the evening with dinner. I like taking the eight-tablet-a-day formula, which contains 100 mg of coenzyme Q10.

Q: Which multivitamin supplement do you recommend to your patients?

A: I recommend a minimum of Cooper Complete Basic One multivitamin and mineral formulation for my patients. For patients with cardiac disease, I also put them on a minimum of 100 mg of coenzyme Q10. A study we conducted showed that the combination of exercise and supplementing a healthy diet with Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 softgels and Basic One multivitamin was effective in lowering C-reactive protein by 13 percent and controlling inflammation.

Q: What about vitamin D supplements?

A: I get 50 mcg (2000 IU) of vitamin D in the Cooper Complete Original With Iron multivitamin plus an additional 125 mcg (5000 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.

Q: Do you take omega-3 fatty acids?

A: Yes, I take 2 grams twice daily − two of our Advanced Omega-3 softgels at breakfast and two at dinner (which provides 1440 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 this level of omega-3 because of its 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. Chronic inflammation is the root cause of the process of the onset of chronic disease, but, if interfered with by an anti-inflammatory such as omega-3, one can reverse this pathology.

Not all omega-3 sources are created equal, and the amount of concentrated omega-3 in each varies greatly.  Our Cooper Complete Omega-3 product contains both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), important nutrients that aid the development of the body. It is important to remember a well-balanced diet provides a solid foundation for reaping the benefits of supplementation. By consuming fish regularly in your diet, particularly salmon, you can increase your omega-3 levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Research not only supports the role of omega-3 in reducing inflammation but, more importantly, preventing inflammation. Omega-3 and controlling chronic inflammation go hand-in-hand—which is why you must first prevent or effectively treat chronic inflammation in order to prevent chronic diseases.

Inflammation is measured by the C-reactive protein through a simple blood test. Additional factors that can cause chronic inflammation include oxidative stress, pollution, smoking, processed food, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. 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 4-5 percent. At Cooper Clinic, we aim for the patient to score at least 8 percent.

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

A: Yes, I’ve been taking Cooper Complete Joint Health supplement, with glucosamine and chondroitin, for many years. In the four decades that I ran, I covered 37,000 miles. While I quit running in 2004 after breaking the tibial plateau of my right knee while skiing, I continue to walk, and I estimate I’ve now traveled 50,000 miles. This joint supplement helps keep me pain-free.

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

A: Sleep is a significant 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 very beneficial. President John F. Kennedy took a 45-minute nap after lunch, and I remember my dad always breaking away at lunchtime and taking a 30-minute nap.

While I don’t take melatonin, about 50 percent of patients who do find it helpful for sleeping. The recommended dose is 3-6 mg of melatonin daily.

[Nina B. Radford, MD, Cooper Clinic Cardiologist and Director of Clinical Research, shares sleep hygiene recommendations for healthier sleep.]

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 as it was in high school, is the reason I’m in good health and enjoying a good life at 92 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, which 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 and proven to reduce cholesterol levels.)

As a reminder, Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s supplement recommendations are not a replacement for talking with your physician. Your physician understands your health profile best, so it’s important to talk to them about which supplements are best for you.

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