Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
Nutritional Research Scientist and Author

Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.
Nutritional Research Scientist and Author


Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D., has been a research biochemist since 1959. His first areas of research interest were in the development of pharmaceuticals, spectrophotoluminescence and analytical chemistry. His laboratory research led to his discovery of biological antioxidant synergism in 1962 that has been the focus of his research and patents ever since. In 1970, Dr. Passwater shifted the emphasis of his research from pharmaceuticals to nutrients. In 1975, his best-selling book "Supernutrition: Megavitamin Revolution" was credited with legitimizing megavitamin therapy. Dr. Passwater has continued to research nutritional supplements and has now published over 40 books and booklets, as well as over 450 articles on nutrition and nutritional supplements. More than 200 of Dr. Passwater's articles can be found at

Dr. Passwater was Director, Research Analytical Laboratories at Allied Chemical Corporation in Marcus Hook, PA, Director, Applications Research Laboratory at Baxter-Travenol Laboratories, Inc. in Silver Spring, MD, and Vice President of Research of the American Gerontological Research Laboratories Division of Life Science Labs, Inc. in Rockville, MD. He has also served as the Director of the Solgar Nutritional Research Center (1977-1998) and Vice President of Research and Development for Solgar Vitamin & Herb Company (1998-2001). Dr. Passwater is currently the Research Director of the Selenium Nutritional Research Center in Berlin, MD (2002-present).

Antioxidant Research

Dr. Passwater has been researching antioxidant nutrients since 1959 and discovered biological antioxidant synergism in 1962. In 1962, he also met research chemist, Dave Olson, who would later become the co-inventor on all his patents. In 1970, at Toronto, he presented his evidence to the Gerontological Society’s Annual Scientific Congress that antioxidant nutrients offered a practical means of increasing human lifespan. He was the first to show that practical combinations of antioxidant nutrients increase the lifespan of laboratory animals (Chemical & Engineering News 1970). Previously, Dr. Denham Harman had developed the free radical theory of aging and had shown that large amounts (0.5% of the diet) of three individual non-nutrient antioxidants increased mouse lifespan.

The reports of Dr. Passwater’s research, in 1970, by Ladies Home Journal, and in 1971, by Prevention magazine, may have been the first times that the words "free radical," "antioxidant nutrient" and "selenium" appeared in lay articles.

Dr. Passwater was also the first to publish that a synergistic combination of antioxidant nutrients significantly reduce cancer incidence (Cancer: New Directions. American Laboratory 1973). Dr. Passwater was also the first to publish an epidemiological study showing that vitamin E reduces heart disease risk (Prevention 1976). His original research has now been confirmed by others including three studies by Harvard University researchers.

Selenium Research

Dr. Passwater’s research with selenium and other antioxidant nutrients has led to a series of patents relating to free radical pathology and health. All of his basic research in the 1960’s to support his various patent applications was received and acknowledged by his patent attorneys to him by October 1969. From the initial application in 1970, various patent application procedures including “elections” and “continuations” have followed at various dates. The first Passwater and Olson patent, US 6,090,414, was issued on July 18, 2000 from the 1970 filing.

This patent not only covers all forms of selenium for use in reducing the incidence of cancer, including from metastases, it also covers the composition of selenium and vitamin C, and also selenium with vitamin C and vitamin E. Additionally, it covers the composition of selenium with other antioxidants and selenium with sulfur-containing amino acids and their derivatives. Effectively, this means that US 6,090,414 covers the composition of the vast majority of all multivitamins now made, sold, or distributed in the United States.

Another patent in the European Union has been granted September 10, 2003. (EP 0 750 911 B1) This patent covers some of the best forms of selenium for preventing cancer. Prevention is the ultimate cure. This is also a composition patent. There is a tremendous difference between a “composition” and a “use” patent.

The U. S. equivalent of the European Union patent was filed in June 1995, and is expected to issue in the next few years.

Another U. S. patent, which covers virtually all multivitamins, whether they contain selenium or not, has just been allowed as a composition patent, and is expected to issue in late 2003 or early 2004. This patent will also cover many non-vitamin pill types of nutritional products (such as foods, cereals, bars, drinks, etc.) because it is a general antioxidant composition patent.

Passwater and Olson are currently in the process of filing what is known as a continuation in part (CIP) in the U. S. for another use of great importance, and the US 6,090,414 patent already covers several claims for DNA repair.

Dr. Passwater’s research with selenium was first reported to the general public in the December 1971 issue of Prevention magazine. In 1973, he published in American Laboratory his research on selenium and other antioxidants in reducing cancer incidence. "Supernutrition: Megavitamin Revolution" (1975) and "Cancer and Its Nutritional Therapies " (1978) reviewed his selenium research in the prevention of cancer. He also published "Selenium As Food & Medicine" (1980), "Selenium Update" (1987), and "Selenium Against Cancer and AIDS" (1996).

Chromium Research

Dr. Passwater conducted laboratory animal research with GTF chromium and diabetic mice in the early 1980's and found that GTF chromium reduced obesity, reduced the side-effects of diabetes and increased the lifespans of diabetic mice.

He has written both a booklet and book on chromium nutrition. His booklet, "Chromium Picolinate" was published in 1992. This was followed by the book, "The Longevity Factor" in 1993. He has written several articles about the role of chromium in health.

Other Research

Besides his discoveries in cancer and aging, Dr. Passwater’s research includes a five-year study with Drs. Linus Pauling and James Enstrom (UCLA School of Public Health) on the benefits of dietary supplements on a large group of Californian volunteers, and a study of the protective effect of vitamin E against heart disease. The Enstrom-Pauling study showed that the supplemented volunteers had only two-thirds the death rate expected for Californians of the same age, sex, race, etc. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 79:6023-7 (1982)]. The vitamin E study was a retrospective epidemiological study of vitamin E users which showed that long-term vitamin E users had less than half the heart disease incidence of typical Americans of the same age, sex and race. {Prevention, Jan – Aug. 1976)


Dr. Passwater has written more than 19 books and 21 booklets. In 1975, his book "Supernutrition : Megavitamin Revolution," (Dial Press, Pocket Books) which was based on his laboratory research, was a #4 national best seller, introducing more than 1,400,000 readers to better health through good diet and supplementation during its 18 printings. Several of today’s leading researchers credit this book with sparking their interest in this field. His books have been translated into ten languages; Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Hebrew, Russian and Swedish.

“Soy Smart Health “ (Woodland Press, 2000), co-authored with Dr. Elmer Cranton and Rita Elkins, was selected as the Book of the Year in the health category by ForeWord Magazine and a winner in the Independent Publisher Book Awards in the health category. Another book, co-authored with Dr. Elmer Cranton, was selected by Library Journal as one of the top five health books for 1983, and one of the top 100 science and technology books in a field of 40,000 books. (Trace Elements, Hair Analysis and Nutrition, Keats Publishing).

Dr. Passwater has written four books about Pycnogenol; “Pycnogenol for Superior Health (McCleery & Sons 2001), “All About Pycnogenol” (Avery 1998), "Pycnogenol: The Super ‘protector’ Nutrient" (Keats, 1994) and “The New Superantioxidant – Plus” (Keats 1992).

Other books include “All About Selenium (Avery 1999), “All About Antioxidants: (Avery 1998), “5-HTP: The Natural Serotonin Solution” (Keats 1998), “NADH: The Energizing Coenzyme” (Keats 1998), “Building Muscle Mass, Performance and Health With HMB” (Keats 1997), “The Antioxidants” (Keats 1997), “Shark Liver Oil” (with Dr. Neil Solomon and Dr. Ingemar Joelsson, Kensington 1997), “Selenium Against Cancer and AIDS” (Keats 1996), “Beta-Carotene and Other Carotenoids” (Keats 1996), “Lipoic Acid” (Keats 1995), “Heart Health” (Alternative Medicine Updates 1994), “The Longevity Factor” (Keats 1993), “Chromium Picolinate” (Keats 1992), “Selenium Update” (Keats 1987), “Fish Oils Update” (Keats 1987), “The Antioxidants” (Keats 1985), “Beta-Carotene” (Keats 1984), “Vitamins” (Keats 1983), “Cancer Prevention and Nutritional Therapies” (Keats 1983) (18 printings), "The Slendernow Diet" (St. Martin’s Press 1982) (2 printings), “GTF Chromium” (Keats 1982), “EPA- Marine Lipids” (Keats 1982), “Evening Primrose Oil” (Keats 1981), "Selenium As Food and Medicine" (Keats 1980), "The Easy No-Flab Diet" (Marek 1979) (3 printings),”Super Calorie, Carbohydrate Counter” (Dale 1978), "Cancer and Its Nutritional Therapies" (Keats 1978), "Supernutrition For Healthy Hearts" (Dial Press 1977), "Guide to Fluorescence Literature, Vol. III" (Plenum Press 1974), "Guide to Fluorescence Literature, Vol. II" (Plenum Press 1970) and "Guide to Fluorescence Literature, Vol. I" (Plenum Press 1967).

Editorial Positions

Dr. Passwater was series co-editor of over 100 books for the Keats Good Health Guides. He has been the Nutrition Editor for “The Experts Journal of Optimal Health,” and is the scientific editor for Whole Foods for which he writes a monthly column "Vitamin Connection," to help bring the latest research on nutrients to the public. He also serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Nutrition.


In addition to his numerous TV and radio appearances to bring his health messages to the public, Dr. Passwater also has broadcast a series of more than 7,000 daily radio shows on nutrition on WMCA (1979 – 1986) and WNEW (1985 - 1986) in New York and WRNG in Atlanta (1980 – 1983).


He received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Delaware in 1959, and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Bernadean University of Nevada in 1975. He was certified by the American Chemical Society in 1959 and in 1984 was elected "Fellow" of the American Institute of Chemistry.

Dr. Passwater's discoveries have led to world-wide recognition. He was presented with the nutrition industry's Achievement Award for 1989 and the National Nutritional Foods Association’s Presidents Award in 1999. He has been twice honored by the Committee For World Health (1978 and 1980). In 1973, he was nominated for the American Chemical Society’s Award in Chemical Education. Additional details are found in "Who's Who in the World," "Who's Who in America," "American Men and Women of Science," "Who's Who in the Frontiers of Science" and "Who’s Who in Science and Engineering." Yet, he considers his greatest honors his family, his selection as 1987 Citizen of the Year in his community, the privilege of being the Chief of his community's Fire Department for ten years, being voted into the Delmarva Firefighter’s Hall of Fame in 1993 and having an annual award named after him in his community fire department.