Heart Health Supplements
Many supplements are particularly important for heart health. Here’s a short guide to the most important ones. If you’re not taking these, perhaps you should be.
Omega-3s are among the most anti-inflammatory substances on the planet and should be part of everyone’s heart-healthy supplement program.
Coenzyme Q10 is needed to make cellular energy. Organs that require a lot of energy—like the heart—need the most. It’s made in every cell in the body, your ability to make it diminishes with age, and it’s virtually unavailable in any meaningful amount from food. (It’s also depleted by cholesterol-lowering medications, so if you’re on one of those you simply must supplement with coenzyme Q10 on a daily basis!)
D-ribose is a five-carbon sugar and is one of the components of ATP, the energy molecule the body uses to power all activities. Without D-ribose, there is no ATP. Without ATP, there is no energy.
L-carnitine acts as a kind of shuttle bus, loading up fatty acids and transporting them into tiny structures within the cell called the mitochondria, where they can be burned for energy. Because the heart gets 60 percent of its energy from fat, it’s very important that the body have enough L-carnitine to shuttle the fatty acids into the heart’s muscle cells.
Magnesium lowers blood pressure, helps control blood sugar, relaxes the lining of the blood vessels, and helps prevent clots. Dietary surveys show that Americans aren’t getting nearly enough.
Pantethine is a metabolically active (and somewhat more expensive) form of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Pantethine produces significant positive changes in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (it reduces oxidation), and HDL cholesterol.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. Because heart disease is initiated by damage caused by free radicals (or oxidative damage), any help you can get in the antioxidant department is a good thing indeed. A large 2011 study in the American Heart Journal found that the lower the level of vitamin C in the blood, the higher the risk for heart failure.
Curcumin is an extract from the Indian spice turmeric. Scientific research has demonstrated its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antithrombotic, and cardiovascular protective effects. It also reduces oxidized LDL cholesterol. Curcumin is not generally well-absorbed, so source is important. One particularly well-absorbed form is called BCM-95 curcumin, available in supplements like Terry Naturally.
Resveratrol is the ingredient in red wine that’s best known for its “anti-aging” activity. It’s both a strong antioxidant and a strong anti-inflammatory, inhibiting a number of inflammatory enzymes that can contribute to heart disease. The recommended dose is at least 250 mg a day of trans-resveratrol, the active component of resveratrol. One brand I particularly like is Reserveage, which comes in two strengths and provides either 250 mg or 500 mg of the trans- form in every capsule.
Cocoa flavanols help the body synthesize a compound called nitric oxide, which is critical for healthy blood flow and healthy blood pressure. You can get these heart healthy flavanols in dark chocolate containing at least 60 percent cocoa. One manufacturer, CocoaWell, provides cocoa flavanols in several excellent formulas, including one that incorporates 100 mg of coenzyme Q10.
About the Author
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, also known as “The Rogue Nutritionist,” is a board-certified nutritionist and the best-selling author of 13 books on health. This article is adapted from his latest book, The Great Cholesterol Myth, co-written with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, MD. Recipes are courtesy of The Great Cholesterol Myth Cookbook.