Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the United States, and it has been this way for some time. While blood thinning and cholesterol medications are often prescribed to help with heart conditions, many of these medications come with side effects. One thing that many people don’t consider are supplements. Most dietary supplements are side effect free and can prove to be a fantastic, natural weapon in the fight against this deadly disease.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the top supplements you can take for heart health. Please keep in mind that it is best to discuss taking these supplements with your doctor.
Several research studies have found that garlic extracts, and garlic bulbs, can help to lower bad cholesterol, and increase good cholesterol. The bad LDL cholesterol is linked to poor blood circulation, and it’s something that a lot of people suffer from. While changing your diet is the best way to improve your cholesterol levels, taking a garlic supplement could also give you a boost. Garlic supplements can easily be purchased online, but can also be purchased in stores. They come in both pill and capsule form. Keep an eye on the level of allicin in the supplements – the top quality garlic supplements contain allicin powder extracts.
Magnesium is often referred to as the ‘anti stress’ supplement because it basically relaxes all the body’s processes and calms things down. It helps to improve heart health by relaxing the arteries. This leads to lower blood pressure, making it easier for the heart to pump blood around the body. Magnesium also helps to lower blood sugar levels, something that diabetics are concerned with, and something that can also lead to heart disease. Like garlic, magnesium is available in both pill and capsule form. However, it’s also possible to purchase magnesium bath flakes. These can be added to a warm bath and soak in through the skin. It’s a relaxing way to receive a relaxing supplement!
Most people have heard of Vitamin K due to its ability to help the blood to clot. But what most people don’t know is that there are two different forms of Vitamin K: Vitamin K-1 and Vitamin K-2. Clotting is actually improved through taking supplements of Vitamin K-1. Vitamin K-2 is what helps to improve the health of the heart. People suffering from heart disease often have a lot of calcium in their arteries clogging them up. Vitamin K-2 moves this calcium from the arteries to the bones where it belongs. This vitamin can be found in foods, but it’s usually found in foods that people don’t eat a lot of, such as liver and other organ meats. Unless you eat a lot of these foods, you’re best off taking a supplement instead.
Citrus bergamot is a great supplement to take if you have diabetes in your family, or your doctor has told you that you are in the preliminary stages of contracting the disease. It has a positive effect on people suffering from metabolic syndrome, as it helps to lower blood sugar levels, raise HDL, and lower triglycerides. If you can get metabolic syndrome under control, you lower your risk of diabetes. It’s best not to take citrus bergamot on its own. Instead, it’s often taken with Niagen, curcumin, vitamin D and other probiotics. While these other supplements aren’t directly associated with heart health, combined they are essential for your overall health.
EPA and DHA
EPA and DHA are fatty acids, which are both found in abundance in fatty fish. If you would rather get them from your diet than take them as a supplement. There have been several hundred studies which have shown fish oil to have numerous cardio-protective effects, including significantly reducing the risk of death by coronary artery disease. EPA and DHA are both found in fish oil, which works through a number of different mechanisms to improve the heart’s rhythm, prevent the formation of clots, and reduce plaque build-up in the arteries. In addition, fish oil is also well-known for its ability to reduce blood pressure and increase the amount of HDL cholesterol, which is essential for a healthy heart.
Lycopene is a substance with strong antioxidant properties that is found in most fruits and vegetables. It is mainly found in tomatoes and tomato products, and several studies on this nutrient have indicated that people with high levels of lycopene in their bloodstream have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Recently, studies showed that men with the lowest levels of lycopene in their bloodstream were three times as likely as those with a higher amount to be at risk of an acute heart attack or stroke. In addition, low levels of lycopene in the plasma have also been associated with an increased thickness of plaque build-up in the arterial wall, which increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack.
Arginine is a natural amino acid which is necessary to synthesize a very potent substance known as nitric oxide which causes the dilation of the blood vessels. Arginine is regularly promoted as a heart healthy product since it has favorable effects on blood pressure and studies have shown it to help prevent the vascular dysfunction that is associated with eating a high-fat meal. Recent reviews of studies on this amino acid suggest that its main benefit is restoring vascular function along with improving the clinical symptoms of the various conditions and diseases associated with vascular dysfunction.
Also known as Vitamin B3, niacin is naturally involved in the metabolism of both carbohydrates and fats. When taken in supplemental doses, niacin becomes a potent vasodilator, which causes the blood vessels to increase in diameter. In addition, taking vitamin B3 in supplement form has a number of further benefits for your heart health, including significantly lowering the levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol consistently, decreasing triglycerides, and improving the amount of ‘good’ or HDL cholesterol.
There have been several studies conducted where plant sterols, also known as phytosterols, have been shown to reduce the amount of cholesterol and be effective in preventing cardiovascular disease. They have a very similar structure to cholesterol, which allows it to decrease gut absorption whilst supporting and improving the elimination of dietary cholesterol. A study has shown that an intake of 2 grams of plant sterols per day was able to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 10%, regardless of diet. In addition, the same study also suggested that the cholesterol lowering properties of plant sterols are superior to those achieved through diet or by taking other cholesterol lowering medications.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) mainly functions in the mitochondria, to assist in producing energy from both fats and carbohydrates. Primarily, it acts as an antioxidant in the heart and is also involved in synthesizing energy, however it also has a range of other important functions in the mitochondria, for example, stabilizing membranes. Since it plays an important role in oxidative stress, it is very useful for preventing damage to the heart during times of stress. In patients with heart conditions, CoQ10 levels have been shown as depleted; research on this supplement spanning over three decades has proven it to have a lot of potential when it comes to the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is a dietary supplement that has also shown a lot of potential when it comes to preventing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have suggested that taking this supplement may help to reduce several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including reductions in the total amount of cholesterol, decreasing LDL cholesterol, and fasting triglycerides. One study, in particular, showed that taking red yeast rice supplements can decrease the triglyceride response to a fatty meal by around 40-50%, which can in turn reduce the risk of developing coronary artery disease.
Known as the ‘heart herb’, hawthorn is the perfect supplement to take if you’re looking for something natural to take to improve your heart health. Studies have shown that hawthorn is effective for supporting the blood flow and oxygenation to the heart. Along with that, it is also rich in flavonoids, which protect against free radicals. Hawthorn increases the force of the heart, and can help to regulate the heartbeat, making it an ideal supplement for those with conditions such as arrhythmias, mitrial valve abnormalities, or tachycardia. It also helps to lower and maintain blood pressure, keeping it within the normal range.
L-Carnitine is essential for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria of cells, where they can then be burned for energy. Since the heart gets around 60% of its energy from fat, it’s crucial that the body has enough of this nutrient to transport the fatty acids to the heart’s muscle cells effectively. Several studies have shown L-Carnitine supplements to be beneficial for the heart, along with improving exercise endurance in patients with heart conditions, and improving the survival rate in some cases.
Do you take any supplements for your heart health? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.