We continue our review of Dr. Donald Miller’s personal supplement program. I must admit, he takes a lot of supplements.

Vitamin E- Dr. Miller takes 800 IUs a day of full-spectrum Vitamin E, which includes alpha tocopherol, mixed tocopherols, and the tocotrienols.  I take a similar product from VRP called E Team, which provides 240 IUs/day, also full-spectrum.  Again, I will point out that my personal supplement decisions are affected by cost and tolerance for taking pills, and I’m sure that’s true for most people.

B-Complex- Dr. Miller takes a “B-Complex 50” which provides 50 mgs each of the various B vitamins, that is, most of them.  My Extend Core Multi provides B vitamins in much smaller doses, but still multiples of the RDA. His B-Complex formula also contains 400 mcg of standard Folic Acid, but in addition, he takes 1 mg of methyltetrahydrofolate (MTHF).  I prefer to take just MTHF because it is the only truly natural form of folic acid.  It’s found in my Extend Core Multi in the amount of 400 mcg.

Vitamin B-12- Dr. Miller takes 1000 mcg of Sublingual Methylcobalamin every day. I use the exact same product, but not every day.  I take it, on average, about 3X a week. Methylcobalamin is definitely the best form of Vitamin B12 because it is better utilized by the brain than any other form.

Vitamin C- Dr. Miller takes 3000 mgs/day in buffered form. I take only 400 mg as contained in my Extend Core multi. However, I also eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, and I figure that between diet and supplements, I am getting  at least 1000 mg/day of Vitamin C, which is still over 10X the RDA.  I’m content to get that much Vitamin C on a regular basis, and I am confident that it’s giving me the lion’s share of the benefits from Vitamin C.   

Calcium - Dr. Miller takes 562 mg calcium per day from coral calcium.  I am getting just 150 mgs from my Extend Core multi. And that’s all I want in supplement form.  I’m wary of taking too much calcium. For one thing, we know that calcium turns off the activation of Vitamin D, and I want my Vitamin D activated. For two, we know that calcium often winds up in the wrong places, such as in the joints and in the arteries.  It’s calcium that makes hardened arteries hard. Of course, I do want strong bones. But, I assume I am doing well enough in that respect, and I base that on two observations: 1) I’m doing well with my teeth, which are just specialized bones, and 2) I’m retaining my height. If I’ve lost any height at all, it’s no more than a small fraction of an inch, and that’s not bad for a 60 year old. And, I would rather err on the side of less then more when it comes to calcium.  Of course, I am a strong, solidly built man. If I were a tiny, petite little woman, I’d be inclined to take somewhat more calcium, perhaps up to 500 mg/day.    

Potassium- Dr. Miller takes 2 grams of potassium a day, but I don’t take any, and I don’t get any from my Extend Core Multi either. I presume I am getting enough potassium from the plethora of fruits and vegetables that I eat.

Strontium- Dr. Miller takes a 340 mg tablet of the mineral strontium every day. I have never done that although I have suggested it to women concerned about osteoporosis.  For myself, I just haven’t been that worried about it.  But strontium is safe, and it does strengthen bones. And if osteoporosis becomes a concern of mine in the future, I will definitely take strontium.

Zinc- Dr. Miller takes 30 mg/day of zinc. I get just 15 mg from my Extend Core Multi.  However, I also make a point of eating zinc-rich foods, particularly pecans, which I eat almost daily. It’s interesting how nuts are such extraordinary sources of minerals: brazil nuts for selenium, almonds for calcium and magnesium, and pecans for zinc.  Pecans are my zinc fix, and what a delicious way to get it.

N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)- NAC is a powerful detoxicant and precursor to glutathione.  Dr. Miller takes 1000 to 2000 mg of NAC daily.  For me, NAC is something that I take sporadically.  I keep it around, and I take 600 mg/day about twice a week.

Idebenone- This is an analog of CoQ10 which enters the brain more readily than regular CoQ10. Idebenone is a powerful antioxidant. When they extract organs for transplanting, they soak them in Idebenone to preserve them. Dr. Miller takes 90 mg of Idebenone every day. I have taken Idebenone at times in the past, but I have not been taking it lately, and mainly just due to C&T (cost and tolerance).

Arginine- This is the vasodilating amino acid that is abundant in nuts. Because of its ability to dilate blood vessels through nitric oxide release, it is often included in male potency formulas. Dr. Miller takes 2000 mgs of arginine daily. I don’t take any, but I do eat plenty of nuts.

Conjugated linoleic acid- Linoleic acid is abundant in plants, but the conjugated form of linoleic acid occurs only in animal products.  CLA is alleged to have an anti-cancer effect, but most people take it to lose weight, as it is supposed to help reduce bodily fat deposits.  I have never taken CLA as a supplement, but Dr. Miller takes 2000 mgs a day.

Gingko biloba – Dr. Miller takes 240 mg/ day. I have taken it at times in the past, but I am not currently taking any.

Pycnogenol- This is the trade name for the proanthocyanidine in grape seed and pine bark. It is a powerful antioxidant. Dr. Miller takes 200 mg/day of Pycnogenol, and I take 100 mg of Grape Seed Extract.

Silymarin- Dr. Miller takes 1000 mg of Silymarin from milk thistle. I don’t take any, but I would if I thought I had liver problems.

Aged Garlic- Dr. Miller takes 600 mg of aged garlic daily. I don’t take any garlic, but I do use garlic in my cooking quite regularly.

Lycopene- Dr. Miller takes 10 mg Lycopene daily. I have not been taking any, but I do make a point of eating watermelon, tomatoes, and red grapefruit.

Mushroom Blend- Dr. Miller takes 2 capsules a day of a mushroom blend containing Cordyceps, Reishi, Shiitake, Tremella, and Maitake, among others. I have not been taking any mushrooms in supplement form, but, I do like eating Shiitake mushrooms.

Well, that does it for today, but we’re not finished yet. As I said, Dr. Miller takes a lot of supplements, and we’re working through the list. So stay tuned.  

Let’s continue our analysis of Dr. Donald Miller’s personal supplement program.

Lipoic  Acid- Dr. Miller takes 600 mgs of Alpha Lipoic Acid and 400 mgs of R-Lipoic Acid. I only take R-Lipoic Acid. My understanding is that Alpha Lipoic Acid consists of S-Lipoic and R-Lipoic in equal amounts, but that only the R portion is usable by the human body. If that’s true, what then is the point of taking Alpha? Perhaps there is more to this than I know, but I will point out that the Life Extension Foundation, which used to recommend A-LA, now recommends only R-LA.   For a long time, there was no stable form of R-Lipoic Acid, but now there is. I honestly do not know why Dr. Miller, or anyone else, continues to take Alpha Lipoic Acid.

 

Coenzyme Q10- Dr. Miller takes 400 mgs of the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10, also known as CoQ10-H2. I also take the Ubiquinol form, but I have generally only been taking 100 mg a day.  Sometimes, I’ll take 200 mg in a day, but that is as high as I’ve gone. But, I’m all for higher dosing when there is a specific indication for it, such as with heart failure or Parkinson’s disease.  CoQ10 has become one of the most popular supplements in the world, and for good reason.  Nothing revs up your mitochondria like CoQ10.

 

Carnitine- Dr. Millers takes 660 mg of L-Carnitine and 2000 mg of Acetyl-L-Carnitine every day. I have only been taking Acetyl-L-Carnitine, 1000 mg. The difference is that the acetylated form of L-Carnitine gets into the brain more readily. Carnitine, like CoQ10, is very important to the heart, although the standard L-Carntine is just as effective there, Again, regarding dosing, it comes down to what you can afford and what your tolerance is for swallowing pills and capsules. There are no safety issues that I know of.  

 

Omega 3 fatty acids-  Dr. Miller is taking about 1000 mg each of EPA and DHA from fish oil. I have been taking about 2/3 as much, also from fish oil.  However, it’s interesting that Dr. Miller takes his in the form of Cod Liver Oil. CLO is different from standard fish  oil in that it is high in Vitamin A.  He is getting 23,000 IUs of Vitamin A from that cod liver oil, which is considered a very high dose. He is also getting 2500 IUs of Vitamin D, which brings his total Vitamin D intake to 7500 IUs. Dr. Miller says that in the form of Cod Liver Oil, and in combination with Vitamin D, that amount of Vitamin A is perfectly safe. There has been concern in recent years about toxicity from Vitamin A, and most vitamin companies have reduced the amount of pre-formed Vitamin A in their multis, including VRP. You probably know that the orange pigment beta-carotene is a precursor to Vitamin A. The body seems to be able to convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A without difficulty. Some have questioned whether we need any pre-formed Vitamin A at all, which is strictly an animal product. But, Dr. Miller believes that Vitamin A is safe and beneficial, but only when derived from cod liver oil.

We will continue looking at Dr. Miller’s program next time.

Dr. Donald Miller M.D. has just issued his annual list of nutritional supplements for optimum health. These are the supplements that he, himself, takes, every day.  I would like to go through his list, compare it to mine, and make comments along the way.

I have long been a fan of Dr. Miller. He is in a very unique position: He has one foot firmly planted in the conventional medical world and at the highest level of it, and he has another foot firmly planted in the alternative medical world.

Dr. Miller is a cardiac surgeon and a Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle.  He is also affiliated with the Seattle VA Medical Center.  He is also involved with Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.  He is also a prolific writer, including a book on philosophy, metaphysics,  and morality entitled Heart in Hand.  Besides two textbooks on cardiac surgery, he is the author of a treatise on the management of gunshot and stab wounds of the heart which is considered state-of-the-art.  

But, in Alternative Medicine, he has been active in fighting the use of statin drugs, flu shots, vaccines in general, fluoridation, and even many of the practices and policies concerning AIDS.  And obviously, preventing heart disease is an impassioned interest of his, being a cardiac surgeon, and he has been fighting orthodoxy every step of the way.

I have never met Dr. Miller, but considering his diverse interests, vast knowledge, and his devotion to the cause of health truth "though the Heavens fall," he is someone I would prize meeting.  

But, before presenting Dr. Miller’s personal supplement list, I want to make some general comments about the use of nutritional supplements. We take supplements for several distinct reasons.

First, there are supplements we take because we know- for a fact- that we are not getting enough of them from our food alone.  Two such examples are Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.  There is no Vitamin B12 at all in plant foods, and there are only small, variable amounts in animal foods, and there is simply no way to get an optimal amount of Vitamin B12 from diet alone.   And likewise, Vitamin D is absent from plants, and only minimally present in animal foods, and unless you live in place like Panama (or similar equatorial place) you can’t count on the sun for it either.  So you need these supplements like flowers need the rain.  And there are other supplements that, under some conditions, can come under this category.  For instance, a person with severe iron-deficiency anemia really needs iron supplements. It would take forever to get the blood count up relying on foods alone, and it may not be at all possible. But paradoxically, if you are not anemic, you have no need for iron supplements at all.     

Second, there are supplements that people take for therapeutic reasons: to get a specific and often rapid therapeutic effect.  Examples would be herbs for the prostate, melatonin for sleep, Vitamin C to fight infection, green tea to boost metabolism, and SAM-e to relieve depression.   

However, there are also many supplements that people take, and that I take, on a speculative basis.  We take them in the hope that they will help prevent disease and increase our lifespan.  There may be no immediate effect that we can discern from taking them, and we are, in fact, acting on faith. However, there is, presumably, a scientific rational for taking them that persuades us to do it. And evaluating that rational is where knowledge and judgment are needed. And that’s why I pay close attention to doctors like Dr. Miller.

Finally, I’ll point out that what we decide to take depends on several other factors besides our knowledge and judgment about what is good for us.  For instance, it depends on a thing called MONEY. Supplements cost money, and when you decide to take something on an ongoing basis, it becomes an added, ongoing expense.  There is also the factor of TOLERANCE. It’s not the most pleasant thing to swallow supplements.  As a practice, it is no different than taking drugs (although, it is, in fact, a lot safer than taking drugs).  But, a lot of people don’t like the act of swallowing pills and capsules- of any kind.  I have never heard  of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet being supplement enthusiasts, although obviously, money would not be a factor for them. But, I know that for myself, like most people, there is a limit on how much I can spend on supplements, and there is also a limit to how many I can take each day without feeling overwhelmed, and I operate within those limits.  And that is how it is for everybody.  To people who don’t take supplements at all, the amount that I take must seem like an awful lot. Yet, there are people like Dr. Miller who take much more than I do.

So, we are going to discuss all of this within the context of Dr. Miller’s recommendations, and I hope you find it interesting and valuable.  My next entry will start analyzing Dr. Miller’s list, and I suspect it will take 4 or 5 entries to cover it all. Maybe more. So stay tuned.    

Let’s begin our analysis of Dr. Donald Miller's Optimum Supplements Program, which are the supplements that he takes, himself, every day. I will address them in the same order that he does.

Vitamin D 5000 IUs- It was Dr. Miller who prompted me to increase my Vitamin D intake to 5000 IUs. I had heard about others taking that much (over 10X the RDA), but I didn’t start doing it myself (which was a couple years ago) until I read what he had to say about it. He spoke of the immune support, the heart disease prevention (and remember, he is a cardiologist), cancer prevention, flu prevention, and more. Dr. Miller specifically recommended taking high-dose Vitamin D in lieu of a flu shot. It has worked out great for me. I sailed through the swine flu pandemic last year without so much as the sniffles. And now when they talk about it, it’s pretty much pure theater to me. I don’t worry the least bit about the flu.      

Iodine 12.5 mgs-There is much controversy about iodine.  The RDA of 150 micrograms is based entirely on the needs of the thyroid gland, but many doctors, including Dr. Miller, believe that the extra-thyroid functions of iodine in the body are just as important. These relate to immune support, breast health in women, prostate health in men, cancer prevention, and much more. Average iodine intake in Japan is 13 mgs, which is derived from all the seafood and seaweeds they eat. Dr. Miller takes one of the 12.5 mg Iodoral tablets each day. But, it’s a scored tablet, and I have been taking just half a day, hence 6.25 mgs.  Maybe it would be better to take 12.5 mg, but taking half is what I am doing right now because it suits my comfort level.   

Selenium as Selenomethionine 200 mcg- Dr. Miller has written extensively about selenium as an antioxidant, cancer preventive, glutathione precursor, immune booster, prostate protector, and more. I have not been taking selenium as a separate supplement, as he does, but the Extend Core Multi that I take from VRP provides 70 mcg of selenium, which is the current RDA. Also, I make a point of eating brazil nuts regularly. Each individual brazil nut provides about 25 mcg of selenium as selenomethionine. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that eating just 2 brazil nuts a day raised serum selenium and serum glutathione levels better than a 100 mcg selenium supplement.

Vitamin K2 as Menaquinone7-There is really no reason to take Vitamin K1 because it’s very abundant in vegetables. But, K2 is absent from vegetables and all other plant foods. Bacteria in our intestines manufacture some K2, but how reliable is it as a source? I don’t know, but it probably isn’t optimal. And K2 is very important because it controls the direction of calcium in the body- driving it into bone and keeping out of arteries and other soft tissues. Dr. Miller take 90 mcg of the highly potent MK-7 form of Vitamin K2. I have been taking VRP’s Vitamin K which provides 1 mg of K2- over 10X as much. However, it’s the weaker MK-4 form of K2, which Dr. Miller says is less effective. He may well be right because MK-7 is the most natural form of K2.  Bacteria in the gut make MK-7, not MK-4. As of now, VRP only offers MK-4, which is why I have been taking it. But, I am going to write to the head of VRP, Robert Watson, and ask him to carry MK-7.

Magnesium 900 mgs- This is a whopping dose of magnesium that he takes- about twice the RDA. From supplements, I have been getting just 150 mgs from my Extend Core Multi. Magnesium intake from food varies widely among people depending on diet. When you eat a lot of green vegetables (which have the magnesium in the green chlorophyll) plus nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, as I do, you get a lot of magnesium. The main issue about taking 900 mgs is that it may have a laxative effect in some people. “Milk of Magnesia” is a magnesium laxative. So, as this point, I am not going to match what he is doing with magnesium. However, I am fully aware of its importance, and I do recommend high-dose magnesium to some people, for instance, those with high blood pressure.

That does it for now, but we’ll continue with Dr. Miller’s supplement list next time. Stay tuned.

For years, we have been told to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but new research suggests that eight servings may be significantly better.  

The diet and lifestyles of more than 300,000 people across eight countries in Europe found that people who ate eight or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day had a 22% lower risk of dying from heart disease than those who ate five servings a day. But, as expected, those who ate 5 servings did significantly better than those who ate less.   

One portion or serving was considered to be 90 grams, equivalent to a medium banana, apple, or carrot.  

The average intake of fruits and vegetables in the various countries came to about 4 servings a day.

Spain, Greece, and Italy were the leaders in fruit and vegetable eating. Italian men enjoyed 7.5 portions a day, and Spanish women 6.7 portions.

Healthy eating tailed off the further north the researchers looked in Europe. UK men managed 3.9 portions a day, and UK women 4.2 portions.

Swedish men and women were the worst, with only 3.5 and 2.9 portions a day.

The researchers said that factors of cost and availability of fruits and vegetables most likely account for the differences in intake.

Stepping up from 5 servings to 8 servings a day might be seem like a lot, but lead researcher Francesca Crowe said, “Even if everyone increased their intake by just one portion a day, the impact on public health would be enormous.”

Unfortunately, the figures for the US are very poor. In 2005, only 30% of Americans consumed 2 or more pieces of fruit a day.  Regarding vegetables, only 32% of American women and 22% of American men ate 3 or more servings of vegetables a day (including both raw vegetable salad and cooked vegetables).

This scale of 2 fruits and 3 vegetables reflects the 5-a-day program. But, imagine if it were bumped up to 8. The percentage of Americans who eat 8 or more fruits and vegetables a day must be well below 10%.  And it’s trending lower because of rising food prices in the bad economy. Produce is expensive, though there is a wide spread. Bananas, for instance, are still quite cheap at fifty cents a pound. But, it wasn’t long ago that they were three pounds for a dollar. So, everything is going up.

But, I hope people will find other ways to economize than to reduce their consumption of fresh produce. It isn’t just about nutrition, as in fuel. It’s about nutritional therapeutics and disease prevention. It’s about avoiding the misery of the “medical phase of life.” It’s about staying alive. You can’t put a price on that.