‘How to live to be 102,’ according to Samuel

Samuel 102

Years ago — probably well over a decade ago — I was having lunch with my good friend Samuel Tenenbaum, and he pulled a Ziploc sandwich bag out his pocket. It contained maybe a dozen or so pills and capsules of different colors, sizes, shapes and textures.

As he proposed to take them all, I asked about it, and he explained that they were various kinds of vitamins and minerals. He explained what each was for. He had researched each pill in sufficient detail that I was impressed, and after pondering it for awhile, started doing the same myself.

For several years, I was spending a remarkable amount at the Vitamin Shoppe, for… let’s see… vitamin C, a B complex, fish oil, calcium and vitamin D, zinc, iron (in those days, my iron occasionally fell short of the minimum when I tried to give blood), COQ 10 (someone had told me it helped brain function, which I figured I could use), some others I forget, and a multivitamin (just to cover any bases I had missed). I’d put them in a little plastic snack bag each morning, put that in my pocket as I left the house, and take them all during breakfast after I got downtown. Because they all say to “take with food.”

Then, over the last few years, I sort of fell out of the habit. I still have several bottles of various sorts in a kitchen cabinet, but only occasionally do I think even to take a multivitamin.

But some folks are more consistent than I. Samuel, for one. And then some.

On Friday morning, I was sitting down to eat at the usual place just as Samuel was preparing to leave after his second breakfast. It’s not that he’s a hobbit; if I remember correctly, he’s told me in the past he usually eats a little something at home when he gets up at 4:30 a.m. each day, then has a more sociable breakfast downtown hours later).vitamins

He joined me — so we could chat about my new job — and asked the waiter for a glass of water. Then he pulled out the bag you see at right. He had greatly expanded his vitamin-taking, to a phenomenal extent. At least, I hadn’t remembered there being that many before. He’s really pushed the envelope.

I was reminded of the time Dick Cavett took his show backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. He was chatting with Mick Jagger just before he went on stage, and someone started passing around a tray covered with various kinds of pills, which band members took as they chose. Cavett asked what they were and Jagger said “vitamins.” And salt pills. I thought that was meant as a joke. After all, it was the ’70s. But after seeing Jagger continue to shake it onstage decades longer than Jimmy Fallon predicted in “Almost Famous,” I suspect maybe they were vitamins…

Perceiving my interest, Samuel proceeded to rattle off what they all were as he took them several at a time. I wasn’t taking notes, but most of them I’d never heard of. I thought that if I start getting seriously back into vitamins, I’m going to have to study up on the latest things.

I asked him to let me take a picture of him and the pills, to share here on the blog. He said sure, and that I should tell everybody, “This is how you live to be 102!”

He could be onto something. He’s 10 years older than I am, and still going strong. So’s Mick Jagger, last I saw…

17 thoughts on “‘How to live to be 102,’ according to Samuel

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and y’all… I’m sorry to have gone a whole week without posting.

    This new job keeps me super-busy all by itself. And when I get any time on the weekend, I have a couple of ADCO projects I’ve promised to finish up.

    Right now, I’m stressing there are more than 1,000 emails stacked up in my bradwarthen.com address, and I’m trying to go through them tonight. I’m keeping up with four other email addresses that are a higher priority, but I can’t just let all those messages sit there…

    1. Dave Crockett

      I’m only 65 but my doctor has me on a three prescription meds for hypertension, two for high cholesterol and one for BPH. She also has me on a variety of non-prescription meds for those conditions (various vitamins and a stout dose of fish oil) and one, specifically, to ward off dementia.

      While cognitive decline doesn’t seem to run in my family, that is probably the single malady that I’ve worried about most since long before signing up for Medicare. That med is a variant of the folic acid (methylfolate, actually) given to women of child-bearing age for an entirely different reason. My informal research finds a growing body of evidence to suggest that a folate deficiency may be involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and other cognitive aging issues.

      Keeping my brain exercised is part of the reason I follow this group and I missed the rabble last week, Brad. I hope the stress you’re feeling is a the good kind.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, it’s fine. I’m just trying to get past the learning-the-ropes stage so that I feel like I’m moving the ball forward.

        I’m actually fine with the putting-out-fires and reacting to what happens part. That’s like being a journalist. I just need to get where I can do that with one hand to a sufficient degree that I’m getting time to help hone the message on less deadline-oriented things like the website and handouts and such…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and by the way, I DID get through those 1,000 messages in my personal email last night, and even got to eat dinner while watching part of “Endeavour” before hitting the sack. So, a sense of accomplishment there. But I have this terrible sneaking suspicion that even as I type this, they’re stacking up again…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Hah! I faked it out! Seconds after posting that, I went over and got rid of the latest emails! A sudden, startling coup de main operation, completely successful…

  2. Bart

    I won’t become an advertisement for ProCaps but I do take several of their supplements each day and I can attest that at my age, they do help considerably. Some of the results may be a placebo effect but I can tell a difference if I skip some of them for a few days.

    Still work 40 hours a week, exercise several times a week, eat the right foods (most of the time), have Type II Diabetes, and dealing with another issue Brad is aware of. ProCaps supplements are not cheap but they are the best on the market or at least I have found them to be so.

    Many do not believe in vitamins and supplements but as we age and when we don’t adhere to a proper diet, we do not get the vitamins and minerals our body needs. When we age, some essentials are not as easily retained and some supplements become necessary, agree or not.

    I plan to stay active as long as God allows and refuse to become another old age statistic. Understand my days on earth are limited so while I have them, will enjoy them and do whatever is necessary to keep this old body in good physical and mental condition. Genetics does play a role in health and longevity but in order to support good genes, we still need to take care of our body.

    Hope everyone on this blog lives a long, happy, and prosperous life and prosperity doesn’t always mean money or wealth, some of the most prosperous people I know have little in the bank but are wealthy in so many other ways.

  3. Karen Pearson

    Good to see you back. BTW, I discovered the hard way that a vit. D deficiency (which I’ve never had before in my life) will make you feel exhausted and will give you an irregular heartbeat.

  4. Richard

    One downside about living to 102… you get to watch all of your friends die and likely younger members of your family.

  5. Claus2

    ” my good friend Samuel Tenenbaum”

    See politics is already rubbing off on you. “my good friend” is a political catch phrase used to describe anyone they meet even if they can’t stand them. Now all you have to do is get the “pat myself on the back” movement down and you’ll be ready to run for state office.

  6. Burl Burlingame

    I was sorting two weeks worth of Old Man pills last night and whining because there’s, like, eight, of them.

    And good to see another “Endeavor” fan.

    1. Bart

      “Endeavor” is a great series. Haven’t missed one yet. The “Morse” series was good and “Endeavor” is a great introduction to the characters on the later life of Morse. Good to see Thune’s daughter in the “Endeavor” series.

      1. Bart

        The other offshoot of Morse, “Inspector Lewis”, was entertaining as well. The British have a knack for producing great detective series for television.

  7. Norm Ivey

    Sorry to be that guy, but in the interest of science…

    Most common causes of death in people over the age of 65 are heart disease and cancer. Most vitamins do nothing to combat those. Many of the supplements people take are filtered out by the liver as toxins. My doc will sometimes suggest a vitamin or supplement for a limited time, but advises against taking them routinely.

    Some B vitamins may reduce the likelihood of heart disease, but beer has several of the vitamin Bs, so…

    Best, I think, to balance your diet to get what you need. A note from nature about diet and longevity–the longest-lived mammals often consume fewer calories compared to their body size. We eat ourselves to death.

    I’m no doctor. If your doc tells you to take ’em, then take ’em.


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