“Eating a healthful diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding tobacco are of utmost importance to maintain good health. I also think that some dietary supplements are critical for optimum health.”

– Balz Frei, Ph.D.


Which nutritional supplements does the former director of the Linus Pauling Institute, Balz Frei, Ph.D., include in his own regimen?

Several years ago, he listed them in LPI’s Research Newsletter:

He included insights from the Linus Pauling Institute’s Rx for Health and how he decided to vary its prior recommendation for vitamin E. He also pointed out that he made sure to get 1,000 mg of calcium daily from his diet and the multivitamin/mineral supplement combined.

Balz Frei-runningThe column elicited responses from LPI’s scientific colleagues and supporters around the country, which led to further informed discussions about the benefits of various supplements, as well as possible concerns [see the newsletter’s follow-up column]. It also inspired several articles in the popular media, including Vogue.

In 2013, Frei was asked again about his health regimen, and his answers follow below.

Q: What do you now take? Have any new discoveries inspired alterations in your personal regimen? Have other factors in your life influenced your decisions?

A: “I continue to eat a healthful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish, and low-fat dairy products. I run about 20 miles a week, and participate in an occasional half-marathon or marathon. I drink moderately, about one glass a day of beer or wine. I also stick with my other healthy habits, including avoiding highly processed foods, red meat, and tobacco.

“I have made some adjustments to my supplement regimen. Specifically, I now take two capsules daily of a fish oil supplement, each containing 450 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 90 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). I switched to this supplement with a higher content of DHA, because DHA appears to play a critical role in brain and heart function, yet our body is inefficient in making it from its precursors, including EPA. I also eat fish at least twice weekly and hence should get enough EPA from my diet.

“The other item I have added, in consultation with my physician, is a daily ‘baby’ aspirin, which is 81 mg. While this is not a nutritional supplement, I mention it with this list because I am convinced it is important for my demographic, to maintain heart health and suppress chronic inflammation. Together with aspirin, EPA and DHA also act as anti-inflammatories. Chronic inflammation is an important contributing factor to many age-associated diseases and to the aging process itself.”



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7 thoughts on “Balz Frei, Ph.D., on his Personal Health and Supplement Regimen

  1. I believe that Dr Frei’s comments about saturated fat and red meat, as noted in his piece “Does carnitine cause heart disease?”, are guided more by personal paradigm than science. Recent reviews and studies (e.g. Cochrane for saturated fat and EPIC for red meat)
    have not been able to demonstrate association in terms of all-cause mortality. The evidence is far from unequivocal.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my LPI Newsletter article “Does carnitine cause heart disease?”. The quote you are referring to is:

      “The main culprit in red meat is saturated fat, and I don’t think carnitine or TMAO will get even close to saturated fat in terms of causing atherosclerosis and increasing cardiovascular risk in humans.”

      Please note that my comment is related to cardiovascular risk, not all-cause mortality. The evidence that saturated fat intake is related to cardiovascular risk is strong, although I agree not unequivocal. Randomized controlled trials have shown that the effect of reducing saturated fat intake on coronary heart disease risk entirely depends on what the saturated fat is replaced with:
      • If saturated fat is replaced with polyunsaturated fat, there is a consistent and significant reduction in CHD risk, with 10% lower risk for each 5% energy exchange
      • If saturated fat is replaced with monounsaturated fat or carbohydrates, there is no significant CHD risk reduction.

      More detailed information can be found at this link .

      Red meat is a major source of saturated fat in the American diet. However, in contrast to processed meat, red meat may not be associated with higher incidence of CHD. Red meat consumption also has been linked to colon cancer. I agree with you that neither saturated fat nor red meat have been shown to be associated with all-cause mortality.

      I hope this information is somewhat useful.


      Balz Frei, Ph.D.
      Director and Endowed Chair, Linus Pauling Institute

  2. Thank you for sharing Dr. Frei’s vitamin regimen, please keep posting this kind of information in order to educate the public to make their own choices. I use to take 1,000 mg vitamin C, and also give the same to my husband. I have recently read on-line that such dosis may be too high for men, since they are exposing them to kidney stone. Same about Calcium, dosage over 500 mg may harden the arteries. This was mentioned for men only. Could you please elaborate and clarify if this could be just media fearmongering, or it actually has some scrientific truth behind it. Thank you very much.

    • We appreciate your interest in health and your referring to the Linus Pauling Institute for trusted information on nutrition and dietary supplements based on scientific evidence.

      For information and recommendations about vitamin C, please see our Micronutrient Information Center article at http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/. There you can find brief summaries of studies we have reviewed regarding vitamin C and kidney stones under the heading “Kidney Stones.” Because there are conflicting results among studies, it may be prudent for individuals predisposed to oxalate kidney stone formation to avoid high-dose vitamin C supplementation. For the large majority of adults, a daily dose of 1,000 mg does not increase the risk of kidney stones and will make sure you get the full health benefits of vitamin C.

      For information and recommendations about calcium, please see our Micronutrient Information Center article at http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/minerals/calcium/. Specific information on supplemental calcium and cardiovascular disease is available at LPI’s Response to the EPIC-Heidelberg Study on Calcium Supplements and Cardiovascular Disease, as well as in the LPI Research Newsletter.

  3. Great discussion. Does Dr. Frei no longer take vitamin D? Last LPI meeting the vit D talk suggested at least 2,000 IU daily. As for vitamin C, a daily dose of 1,000 mg is a poor choice – as published by me in 1994 and Mark Levine at NIH later. One should take 500 mg every 12 hrs to achieve the highest level in the serum. Vitamin C is only retained over 12 hours and then leaves in the urine. 500 mg gets 98% of the highest level in the serum. And Jana Z is correct, there is no evidence that vitamin C increases the risk of kidney stones – in fact those taking C have lower incidence of kidney stones.

    • I believe Dr. Frei is still taking vitamin D, but he is no longer with the institute so we do not keep tabs on his current regimen.

      While splitting a dose of vitamin C (into two or more doses) is probably better for absorption, taking it once per day is better than not taking any at all.

      Unfortunately, there is some evidence that supplemental vitamin C can increase the risk of kidney stones in older men, but the evidence is not strong or well-documented. Only more studies will tell us for sure.

  4. vitamin K 2 is also important and can bring calcium from the arteries to the bones according to the investigations from the University
    of Maastricht in my country the Netherlands.


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