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Dr Cooper giving his supplement recommendations

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 what 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 that 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 started researching vitamins, particularly vitamin C and 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.

Q: What multivitamin do you recommend to your patients?

A: For my patients, I recommend a minimum of 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 D. That has enabled my vitamin D blood level to reach 50 ng/mL, which is the desired level if you want to protect yourself from developing Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, I recommend my patients take only 50 mcg (2,000 IU) of vitamin D unless blood studies prove that level is not adequate to achieve the recommended vitamin D level of 40 to 60 ng/mL.

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 1,520 mg EPA and 880 mg DHA). This keeps my omega-3 level around 10 or 11 percent.

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.

I also eat a lot of seafood, preferably salmon. At home, we eat seafood at least two to three times per week.

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?

A: Yes, I’ve been taking Cooper Complete Joint Health, with glucosamine and chondroitin, for many years. While I no longer jog, I can 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, my vitamin supplementation, my diet and my weight, which is the same it was in high school, is the reason I’m in good health and enjoying a good life at 87 years of age.

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

A: I don’t take any non-Cooper supplements, but I do 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).

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

To shop the entire line of Cooper Complete supplements, click here.

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