Vitamins and Supplements For Heart: What You Need and Where To Get Them
- Supplements and vitamins work to fill any nutrient gaps in your diet, but they’re not a substitute for the diet itself.
- Choosing the best available supplements for heart health should be done in consultation with your physician.
- There’s no one vitamin that prevents cardiac diseases, but a balanced diet rich in a variety of vitamins can keep your body, including your heart, working optimally.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” — these words from Hippocrates are thousands of years old, and yet they are relevant to date.
These words stress upon the significance of the natural nutrients in food that promote health and protect your body from diseases, almost like medicines. Of all the types of nutrients your body needs the most, vitamins for heart health are among the most important.
While there are dietary supplements for heart health and medicine for heart disease, should you develop any, it’s best to try and get your heart vitamins from natural food, especially the kind of food that’s staple in your climate and culture.
After all, supplements can be a part of your health regimen, but they can’t be a substitute for naturally grown food. By understanding what’s in your food and what’s in the supplements, you can get the right mix to work for you.
Definition of dietary supplements
These supplements consist of vitamins, minerals, herbs, plant extracts etc and may be available in the form of pills, capsules, tablets, or liquids. These are supposed to be added to your diet and not become a substitute for meals.
Since nutritional supplements are not always regulated by government bodies, it’s advisable to consult your physician before incorporating them in your daily routine.
The market offers you cellular health supplements, blood circulation supplements, supplements for low blood pressure, supplements to reduce cholesterol, and more. But taking them indiscriminately, without understanding how they can work with your specific body conditions, can do more harm than good.
If you’re already on some kind of medication — even if it’s only one tablet a day — it’s imperative to speak to a trusted physician before incorporating any supplements into the diet.
What are the best supplements for heart health?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with lowering triglycerides, inflammation, and blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Since these fatty acids are not produced by the human body, it’s a good idea to include these either through diet or supplements.
Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines are a storehouse of these. In addition, chia seeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, and walnuts are a rich source of Omega-3s.
Various studies have found that a daily dosage of 1gm of Omega-3 is a good place to start. With people having high levels of triglycerides or patients with chronic heart disease, Omega-3 supplements could be increased to see positive outcomes.
While Omega-3 is the most famous one, there’s also Omega-6 and Omega-9, and they, too, carry benefits such as reducing triglycerides, preventing arrhythmias, slowing down build-up of plaque in arteries, and lowering blood pressure. Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, are a good source of the Omega-6 and Omega-9 fatty acids.
Researchers believe that Omega-3 helps prevent coronary heart disease in healthy people and slows down its progress in those who have it.
Multivitamins and Minerals
While the role of multivitamins and minerals in preventing heart disease has not been proven so far, these may help — if taken in appropriate doses — lower the risk of having a heart ailment.
Eating foods naturally rich in vitamins and minerals should ideally be the first choice; if you fall short of the recommended intake, a supplement may be prescribed by the physician.
Consuming supplements for vitamins and minerals can be a safe and inexpensive way of staying healthy.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
This antioxidant is produced by our body and is used by the cells for growth and maintenance. CoQ10 may also prevent and treat certain heart conditions as well as migraine and headaches. They work to help protect the heart as well as the skeletal muscles.
As you age, Coenzyme Q10 levels deplete. People with heart disease and those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, called statins, see lower levels of CoQ10.
While CoQ10 can be found in meat, fish, and nuts, the amount needed by your body may not be adequately supplied by diet alone. Hence, supplements available as chewable tablets, liquid syrups, capsules etc may be incorporated.
The best source of fiber is obviously food. Naturally occurring in fruits, whole grains, legumes, vegetables etc, fiber cuts down the cholesterol that’s absorbed by the body from the food you eat. Target having at least 20-30gm of fiber every day for best results.
Studies have shown that fiber supplements like psyllium husk, when combined with a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats, can lower LDL or bad cholesterol, while raising HDL or good cholesterol.
If you opt for fiber supplements, it’s best to start slow and increase the amount gradually. Choose a fiber supplement that has different types of fibers: both soluble and insoluble. Also ensure to keep yourself hydrated.
Magnesium plays a key role in maintaining your heart’s health. It’s instrumental in transporting electrolytes such as potassium and calcium into the cells that ensure proper muscle contractions for a normal heartbeat.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that aids hundreds of biochemical functions in your body.
To ensure you have enough magnesium for heart health, foods such as spinach and nuts should be eaten regularly.
Certain foods that cause heart palpitations include caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or energy drinks, which are best avoided if you have a heart condition. Besides these, consumption of sugary foods and alcohol may also cause heart palpitations. Foods such as cheese, dried yeast, red wine, bananas, and chocolate may cause atrial fibrillation and a rapid heart rate after eating. Magnesium helps keep your heart rhythm steady, preventing an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia.
Magnesium supplements come in various forms and mineral combinations, such as magnesium citrate, magnesium gluconate, magnesium hydroxide, and the popular form of magnesium sulphate, also known as Epsom salt. Choosing the one that works for you should be an informed decision and should be taken after consulting your physician.
Folate (Folic Acid)
Folate is a B Vitamin in its natural form and is found across a variety of foods. Folic acid, on the other hand, is the man-made version in supplements and is added to foods. Both terms are generally used interchangeably.
Folic acid is known to lower the risk of a heart attack and stroke in people with hypertension. It also aids cell growth and metabolism and helps to form red blood cells, thereby preventing anemia.
The best sources of folate are leafy green vegetables, beans, citrus fruits and juices, peanuts, sunflower seeds, seafood etc. If you’re deficient in folate, it’s best to take supplements to maintain good heart health.
Green tea is one of the most effective supplements to reduce cholesterol. It has been enjoyed for centuries across all ages and ethnicities.
Research has shown that both the extract and the drink itself may lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise HDL levels. Based on several preliminary trials, it has been concluded that green tea effectively lowers the levels of both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
A few cups of this elixir a day can definitely be a good option to maintain good heart health.
Garlic has been used in almost all homes to make just about anything taste delicious.
Taken orally as a supplement, it can aid in treating high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. It slows the build-up of plaque and lowers the risk of blood clots.
It’s important that you stop taking garlic at least two weeks before planning a surgery because of its blood thinning properties.
Do heart health vitamins work?
A number of studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of vitamins for heart health. There’s no conclusive evidence of that — what is known is that no one vitamin can prevent a heart disease from developing, but that a balanced intake of all vitamins ensures overall good health, including heart health.
Alongside taking vitamins or vitamin-rich foods, you must also keep a check on risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet.
There’s no dearth of supplements and multivitamins available in medical stores and online. But first, it’s important to understand that vitamins for heart health
can support your primary diet, but they can’t replace the benefits of eating balanced meals.
Second, supplements should be taken only if certain nutrients are missing from your diet or if your body is unable to naturally produce some nutrients. Supplements shouldn’t be taken just because they’re available.
Third, it’s always advisable to consult your physician about the supplements that are going to work for you. Once that is decided, going for a good brand that speaks quality is a must.
Your heart health is at stake, so always make informed and timely decisions. Keep track of how these supplements are working for you by reviewing your health time and again to ensure best outcomes.
Did you like our Article?
- Peace Health: 8 heart health supplements to take – and one to avoid
- Cleveland Clinic: Do Heart Health Vitamins Work?
- Harvard Health Publishing: Vitamins and your heart
- Mayo Clinic: Coenzyme Q10
- Healthline: 7 Impressive Ways Vitamin C Benefits Your Body
- URMC: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Coronary Heart Disease
- Everyday Health: How Magnesium Keeps Your Heart Rhythm Healthy