Heart Health Supplements
If you are concerned about protecting the health of your heart, there are several important heart health supplements that have been shown to have beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system (including the blood vessels, arteries and brain in many cases).
In addition to providing a comprehensive list of heart health supplements in this post, you will also find information on lifestyle changes that may help prevent health problems, and details on how to follow a heart smart diet. If you have a heart condition or for a high risk for a heart attack, you must follow your doctor’s advice. If you think you may have a heart condition but have not seen a doctor, it is essential that you consult a physician for a proper diagnoses. Do not try to treat a serious health condition on your own with over-the-counter supplements without consulting a medical professional.
This post will discuss the following KEY heart health supplements:
- CoQ10: 90-120 milligrams a day
- Fish Oil/Omeg a-3 fatty acids: two to three grams daily of a product containing both EPA and DHA
- Grapeseed Extrat
- Green tea
- Vitamin C
- L-Proline L-Lysine
As well, these supplements may be beneficial in maintaining heart health:
- vitamin D
- B Vitamins
Lifestyle Habits for Heart Health
In addition to taking specific supplements to combat heart disease, apply these general guidelines to your diet and lifestyle:
1. Cut back on salt
Too much salt in your blood creates an osmotic gradient that draws water into the bloodstream. The result is high
A couple days ago when I looked in the mirror in the morning, I noticed a crease on my ear lobe. I immediately recalled that I had read something some where about a crease or wrinkle on the ear lobe being indicative of a serious health condition, however , I couldnt recall the details. I immediately ran in internet search and, sure enough, a diagonal crease on the earlobe, pointing toward the shoulder, can be an indicator of heart disease, often present in people who die of sudden cardiac arrest (in otherwords, they weren’t even aware they had heart disease prior to the cardiac arrest). Sigh… in my case, I have sleep apnea attacks which feel like my heart has stopped; my heart frequently pounds, flutters, and palpitates, and I have high blood pressure. So, this is hardly shocking.
I immediately set about compiling research on which supplements I should be taking for cardiovascular health. I already happened to have several on hand in my ‘war-chest’. So I started taking them immediately. I’ll be adding to the list, based on my ongoing research which I am compiling on this page.
Your heart pumps blood to different parts of your body through a system of arteries, veins and vessels which total nearly 100,000 miles for an adult—that’s 4 times the circumference of the Earth!
For this reason its essential to support healthy blood vessels. Blood vessels that feed the heart muscle can be blocked causing a heart attack. Vessel health is key: avoid smoking, be active, manage stress, and eat a whole foods diet.
Best Heart Health Supplements
Read here about CoQ10, Look for supplements that contain ubiquinol, the form of CoQ10 that is naturally produced in the body and more readily absorbed when taken in supplement form. If you can, skip supplements containing ubiquinone, which is more common, but widely seen as less effective.
Read here about Hawthorn
Arginine synthesizes nitric oxide, which helps your blood vessels relax and expand. This is important for regulating your blood flow. Aginine is beneficial if you have certain conditions that affect your blood vessels and heart such as coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, clogged arteries, angina, or erectile dysfunction. Arginine supplements may also benefit people with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). This condition develops when your arteries narrow and reduce blood flow to your limbs. Most people with PVD develop it in their legs. Many cases of erectile dysfunction (ED) may be linked to heart disease. Problems with blood vessels can reduce the flow of blood to the penis. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research suggests that arginine supplements may help improve blood flow through the body. Due to these purported benefits, doctors sometimes prescribe arginine supplements to treat ED. Studies have found that arginine supplements may help alleviate ED in men with low nitrate levels. A study reported in Urology also found that oral supplements of L-citrulline may help treat mild to moderate ED. Your body converts L-citrulline into L-arginine. Therefore when taking Arginine, it can be beneficial to also take citrulline. Adding collagen, hyralic acid and vitamin c to the mix is also a good idea, as all of these supplements work together synergistically for maximim benefit.
However, the Mayo Clinic warns that taking arginine supplements after a heart attack may have adverse effects. Aginine could increase the risk of dying after a heart attack. More research is needed to assess the benefits and risks. Until the potential safety issues have been addressed, don’t take arginine supplements after a heart attack.
If you have a history of heart disease, ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of arginine supplements. Depending on your health history, it may or may not be advisable.
It is said that curcumin may be the most effective natural supplement available, with effects on both the brain and the body. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high. It’s around 3%, by weight (2). It would be very difficult to reach therapeutic levels of curcumin just using the turmeric spice in your foods. Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, you need to take a supplement that contains significant amounts of curcumin. Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. Because curcumin is fat soluable, its also a good idea to take it with a meal.
Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of your blood vessels. It’s well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of your endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors (29). Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. One study found that it’s as effective as exercise while another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin (30, 31).
In addition, curcumin reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which play a role in heart disease as well. One study randomly assigned 121 people, who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery, either a placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day, a few days before and after the surgery. The curcumin group had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital.
Researchers have theorized that taking collagen supplements may help reduce the risk of heart-related conditions. Collagen provides structure and flexibility to your arteries, the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body. Without enough collagen, arteries may become weak and fragile. This may lead to atherosclerosis, a disease characterized by the narrowing of the arteries. Atherosclerosis has the potential to lead to heart attack and stroke.
In one study, 31 healthy adults took 16 grams of collagen daily for six months. By the end, they had experienced a significant reduction in measures of artery stiffness compared to before they started taking the supplement (22).
Additionally, they increased their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol by an average of 6%. HDL is an important factor in the risk of heart conditions, including atherosclerosis (22).
Fish Oil/Omeg a-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most important nutrients when it comes to cardiovascular health. There is extensive science that supports the use of omega-3 fatty acids to maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol.
They play an important role in regulating the cardiovascular system. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is classified as an essential fatty acid, because the human body needs, but doesn’t produce it on its own.
The other two types are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). It’s EPA and DHA that seem more important for heart health, being more anti-inflammatory.
It may seem counter-intuitive that the body needs these “good” fats to prevent the build-up of plaque. It’s important to distinguish between the types of fat needed to function properly and support, and bad types of fat (ie. hydrogenated oils), which are now known to be inflammatory and damaging to blood vessel lining.
Omega-3 fats are one of the good kinds, and studies have shown that they can support inflammation, blood pressure, and keep the heart beating steadily.
Fish, nuts, and seeds are high in omega-3 fats, with the priority going to fish sources, as they are highest in the EPA and DHA fats. Incorporate them into your diet, or look for a quality supplement, such as fish oil supplements derived from salmon or cod.
It may slow the buildup of plaque in your arteries, lowering your risk of blood clots. Research shows that both garlic in food and in supplements may help. Garlic contains a variety of trace minerals and vitamins. Evidence suggests that components in garlic inhibit the synthesis of cholesterol, dissolve blood clots, and regulate heart rate–all of which can lead to improved heart health. There is a large body of evidence suggesting garlic can support both cholesterol and blood pressure.
Strong research shows that astaxanthin can support heart health, in addition to its anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Recent clinical studies suggest astaxanthin supports cardiovascular health, and helps maintain cholesterol levels already within a normal range. Astaxanthin was shown to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol (a.k.a. the “good” kind of cholesterol).
As an added bonus, further research is being conducted to explore astaxanthin’s other potential benefits, including supporting brain function and reducing signs of aging in the skin. More about Astaxanthin,
Green tea . \
Research shows that both the extract and the drink may lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise HDL levels.
May Lower Your Blood Pressure and Help Keep Arteries Flexible. Well Known for Helping Your Blood Vessels to Relax.
- A daily dose of vitamin C may have a similar effect as walking on a protein called endothelin-1, which promotes the constriction of small blood vessels
- Overweight or obese adults who took vitamin C daily reduced endothelin-1-mediated vessel constriction as much as those who walked daily
- When endothelin-1 activity is higher it makes small blood vessels more prone to constricting, which increases the risk of heart disease
- Vitamin C supplementation represents an effective lifestyle strategy to reduce blood vessel constriction in overweight and obese adults, particularly since many people do not engage in recommended levels of daily physical activity
Also Possibly Helpful
A growing number of studies point to vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, peripheral arterial disease (PAD), strokes, and the conditions associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. However some experts say it has not yet been conclusively determined if supplenting with Vitamin D lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease for those who are deficient – studies are ongoing. On the other hand:
Acccording to the Cleveland HeartLab: Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to high blood pressure. And some research shows that taking a vitamin D supplement can help to lower it, which lowers the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
A study from Ohio University also explored the connection between vitamin D and high blood pressure by studying blood vessel walls, and researchers did it in an interesting way. They used tiny sensors about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair to look at blood vessel cells while injecting them with a form of vitamin D, called vitamin D3. The study showed that vitamin D3 can repair damage to the heart and blood vessels caused by high blood pressure.
The study also found that vitamin D-3 is a powerful trigger of nitric oxide, which is a molecule that plays an important signaling role in the control of blood flow and the formation of blood clots in blood vessels.
The researchers also found that vitamin D-3 significantly reduces oxidative stress in the vascular system.
They suggest that vitamin D-3 has the potential to significantly reverse the damage that high blood pressure, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other diseases inflict on the cardiovascular system.
“There are not many,” the lead researcher (Prof. Tad Malinski) stated, “if any, known systems which can be used to restore cardiovascular endothelial cells which are already damaged, and vitamin D-3 can do it. This is a very inexpensive solution to repair the cardiovascular system. We don’t have to develop a new drug. We already have it.”
~ Prof. Tadeusz Malinski
Although you can find vitamin D in fatty fish such as salmon, fortified orange juice, and milk, sunlight is the strongest natural source for vitamin D. About 10 minutes of moderate summer sun exposure can supply you with 3,000 to 5,000 IU of vitamin D. You would have to drink approximately 30 glasses of milk to match that amount. While we don’t know for sure whether treating with vitamin D can prevent a heart attack, we do know for certain that vitamin D is good for the bones, so its important to know if your are deficient, and to supplement to address that to avoid fractures and osteoporosis.
The benefits of boosting vitamin D
A direct link has yet to be formed between higher vitamin D levels and lower cardiovascular risk. But it’s important not to overlook other possible benefits.
“While we don’t know for sure whether treating with vitamin D can prevent a heart attack, I know at the very least vitamin D is good for the bones,” Dr. Michos points out. “So I do recommend screening and treating, particularly because women tend to have more fractures and osteoporosis than men.”
Low vitamin D levels also predispose you to developing diabetes.
B vitamins have been linked with reduced risk of stroke as well as reduced risk of death from heart disease according to findings by Japanese researchers, as reported on WebMD
- Folate and B-6 may reduce the risk of heart failure in men.
- The same vitamins seem to reduce the risk of death from stroke and heart disease in women.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), the health arm in the U.S. of the National Academy of Sciences, recommends 1.3 to 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day, depending on age and sex. The IOM says extremely high-dose folate supplements should be avoided and recommends adult intake of 400 micrograms daily. It is important not to exceed the recommended dosage – more is not better; in fact, some studies have shown that high doses of these vitamins may correlate with increased probability of heart attack.
According to Harvard Medical School, the most recent analysis of multiple studies suggests that folic acid supplements can reduce the risk of stroke in people who have not already suffered a stroke, but they do not reduce the risk of second stroke in people who have already had one. Folic acid supplements were most protective in studies that lasted at least three years and that combined folic acid with vitamins B6 and B12.
Some medical practitioners advise patients to bring their homocysteine levels down with supplements and diet. One patient for example, a 57-year-old woman, who was on blood pressure treatment, had a stroke as a result of a clot on the brain which had come from a coronary artery that was almost completely blocked. Her homocysteine level was 22 micromolar — proponents of the homocysteine theory say over 12 micromolar is high and 6 micromolar is ideal. She began taking vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, plus a multivitamin daily. Two months later her homocysteine score has dropped to 7.6 and her blood pressure is down to around 120/ 75 — a reading considered good for someone nearly 30 years younger.
Taking a B Complex is a good idea to prevent heart disease as well as other age-related diseases. Look for B complex with the following: 20 to 50 mg of the major B vitamins, such as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and 500 mcg vitamin B12.
The healthiest way to insure that you’re getting all the B vitamins and other nutrients you need is to eat a varied diet that includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats, and protein.
Sources of folate include vegetables, fruits, whole or enriched grains, fortified cereals, beans, and legumes. B-6 sources include fish, vegetables, liver, meats, whole grains, and fortified cereals. The researchers say B6 and folate may fight cardiovascular disease by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that is affected by diet, but also heredity. The researchers say the findings were consistent with studies in North America and Europe. Homocysteine is believed to cause damage to the inner linings of arteries, promoting blood clots.
More about Homocysteine from Life Extension Magazine:
Study after study over the past decade has shown that, regardless of being clear of other risk factors, even mildly elevated levels of homocysteine in one’s bloodstream can single out victims by making them susceptible to heart disease. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body which, in excessive amounts, tends to build up in the blood and is believed to be at the root of arterial inflammation and damage. What recent research has also turned up is the discovery that folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 supplementation can be used successfully to lower homocysteine levels.
In addition to reducing homocysteine concentrations, increasing folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 also fights heart disease by improving vascular endothelial function and related flow-mediated vasodilation. A Polish study showed that an eight-week treatment with folic acid (5 milligrams daily), vitamin B6 (300 milligrams daily) and B12 (1000 micrograms weekly) not only cut homocysteine levels in half (from 20 to 10 micromoles/liter), it also diminished the production of a blood-clotting enzyme, thrombin, which plays a proliferative role in heart disease and stroke.
recent studies have noted that suboptimal serum levels of folic acid, vitamin B12and vitamin B6 may underlie the development of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Why? It’s believed that such deficiencies lead to inadequate production of S-adenosyl-methionine, creating a state of turmoil called hypomethylation. And this, in turn, may damage the DNA in arterial cells, leading to the mutation and proliferation of smooth-muscle cells, thus paving the way for atherosclerosis. Many experts believe, however, that vitamin supplementation can not only correct the nutritional deficiencies but also help to reverse the atherosclerotic process in people with existing heart disease.4
More specifically, low folate status has been seen as one culprit that precipitates the development of cardiovascular disease. The most recent findings suggest that people with the lowest folate status had more than twice the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease as those with the highest levels of the nutrient. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bethseda, MD reported such findings after examining the serum folate concentrations of 689 adults, ages 30 to 75, without cardiovascular disease or diabetes.5
Similarly, a 15-year Canadian study involving over 5000 men and women with no history of heart disease, aged 35 to 79, showed that the lower the folate levels, the higher was the risk of heart disease-related death. It reported that people with low blood folate levels (below 6.8 nanomoles per liter) have a 69% increase in the risk of fatal coronary heart disease than individuals with higher levels (above 13.6 nanomoles per liter).6 These study findings are very significant, for one, because the sample included both young and old, male and female. As well, the results point to a correlation between lower blood folate values and mortality, as opposed to just a risk of heart disease, or arterial blockage and damage. What’s even more interesting is that the researchers found an inflated risk of death even in people with so-called normal folate status, which calls into question whether we should be boosting our recommended daily allowance. Meanwhile, one multicenter European study, which compared 750 male and female patients with vascular disease to 800 healthy controls, found that low circulating levels of folate were linked to a 50% greater risk of vascular disease in men. The same study also found that low levels of vitamin B6 increased the risk two to threefold in both sexes.
Meanwhile, according to a 1998 report by the American Heart Association,11 about one fifth of the US population may stand a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke because their diet lacks a sufficient amount of vitamin B6 and folic acid. While previous research has suggested that elevated homocysteine levels were the result of too little vitamin B6 or folic acid, the authors of this report were surprised to find that vitamin B6 deficiency was linked to heart disease and stroke risk independently of where homocysteine levels stood. A B6 deficiency was found among 20% of subjects, and levels of these nutrients were generally lower in individuals with heart disease or stroke than in healthy controls. More importantly, those demonstrating a deficiency had twice the risk of heart disease and stroke. Some research suggests that dietary deficiencies of folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 seem common among elderly people in North America.
There’s also good evidence to link high homocysteine with poor memory in older patients and studies have found that people with homocysteine levels above 12 micromolar have three times the risk of damage to brain cells. What’s more, scans show that the brains of Alzheimer’s patients who have high homocysteine shrink faster. A report found that giving extra folic acid to elderly people whose level of vitamin B12 is low, common at that age, makes them more likely to have anaemia and mental problems. ‘It’s a puzzling effect,’ says Professor David Smith — director of Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing. ‘We don’t understand why it happens, but it does alert us to a possible risk of high folate in some people.’
Lifestyle Habits for Heart Health
In addition to taking specific supplements to combat heart disease, apply these general guidelines to your diet and lifestyle:
1. Cut back on salt
Too much salt in your blood creates an osmotic gradient that draws water into the bloodstream. The result is high blood pressure, which can weaken and potentially damage the walls of blood vessels. This also makes the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg/day of sodium for adults.
Most of the salt that Americans consume come from packaged foods or restaurant meals. Look first to decrease the amount of these foods in your diet.
2. Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats
Trans fats like hydrogenated oil increase the amount of bad cholesterol in the body and increase inflammation. Overconsumption of saturated fats may contribute to the accumulation of plaque in the bloodstream. Avoiding trans fats completely, and moderating saturated fat directly reduces their negative impact on your cardiovascular system.
4. Stay Active & Exercise
Physical activity lowers risks for cardiovascular disease by controlling weight gain, increasing the amount of good cholesterol in the body, and regulating blood pressure. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or an equal combination of both) each week. Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. If it’s hard to schedule regular exercise sessions, look for ways to build short bursts of activity into your daily routine, like parking farther away and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Ideally, your activity should be spread throughout the week.
5. Manage stress: the mind-body connection
Stress and anger are a physical, as well as psychological burden. These factors can increase your likelihood of getting a stroke. Manage stress by meditating, building a strong support network, and visiting a mental health provider, if necessary.
Control Your Weight
Speciically, carrying fat around the mid section can predispose you to a heart attack.
3. Don’t Smoke
Smoking and secondhand smoke cause stress on the body and especially the heart. Quitting smoking is painful at first, but the benefits are well worth it. Positive changes, such as a lower heart rate, occur as soon as 20 minutes after smoking. The risk of a heart attack drops within the first 24 hours, while plaque build-up slows down over time.
Eat a Heart Smart Diet
Eat a diet that emphasizes:
- a variety of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy products
- skinless poultry and fish
- nuts and legumes
- non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit intake of saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. If you choose to eat red meat, compare labels and select the leanest cuts available.
One of the diets that fits this pattern is the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. Most healthy eating patterns can be adapted based on calorie requirements and personal and cultural food preferences.
Eat less nutrient-poor foods.
The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you’re trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat. Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage.
As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:
- Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits without high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars. Replace high-calorie foods with fruits and vegetables.
- Choose fiber-rich whole grains for most grain servings.
- Choose poultry and fish without skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans fat. If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy and delicious ways.
- Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring).
- Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
- Avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
- Limit saturated fat and trans fat and replace them with the better fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. If you need to lower your blood cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
- Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further. If you can’t meet these goals right now, even reducing sodium intake by 1,000 mg per day can benefit blood pressure.
- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and no more than two drinks per day if you’re a man.
- The American Heart Association recommends that all adults eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish a week.
- Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on your portion sizes.
Fiber and Sterols for Your Heart
Fiber. Found naturally in fruits, grains, vegetables, and legumes, fiber cuts down the amount of cholesterol your body soaks up from food. Try to get at least 25 to 30 grams of it every day. Men less than age 51 should aim for 38 grams a day. It’s best to get your daily dose from your diet, but supplements are another option. There’s good evidence that blond psyllium husk — common in fiber supplements — can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. It can also raise the “good” kind, HDL. Other fiber supplements include methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and calcium polycarbophil.. If you take a fiber supplement, increase the amount you take slowly. This can help prevent gas and cramping. It’s also important to drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake.
Sterols and stanols. Find these in foods like nuts and grains, or you can buy them as supplements. They reduce the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs from food. They’re also added to many foods, such as some margarines, orange juice, and yogurts. Experts recommend 2 grams a day to help lower LDL cholesterol for people who have high cholesterol.
Below I am recording links I wish to investigate further.