The heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout the vascular system to deliver nutrients and oxygen to all cells in the body. The average human heart will beat 2 1/2 billion times and pump 100,000 million gallons of blood in a lifetime. The following are some of the best vitamins and supplements for heart health that can help prevent cardiovascular diseases and death.
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It greatly benefits the heart and vascular system by decreasing bad cholesterol, increasing good cholesterol, inhibiting excessive platelet aggregation (which can promote the formation of atherosclerotic plaque) and increasing the breakdown of fibrin, a fibrous protein involved in the clotting of blood which can increase one’s risk of developing heart disease. In one large-scale study involving 87,245 nurses, those who took 100 IU of vitamin E every day for more than two years had a 41 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who did not take a vitamin E supplement.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and antioxidant. It increases the benefits of vitamin E, lowers blood pressure, decreases total cholesterol levels, inhibits platelet aggregation and strengthens arteries.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Although omega-3 does not affect bad cholesterol levels, according to WebMD, it does greatly reduce triglyceride levels and increase good cholesterol levels. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can increase one’s risk for a heart attack. In fact, it is believed that this is why some people with normal cholesterol levels have heart attacks. The best sources of omega-3 are fish oil and flaxseed oil. Because fish contains mercury, it is important to buy a supplement that has been tested for mercury.
Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, can significantly raise good cholesterol by 15 to 30 percent and lower triglycerides by 20 to 50 percent. According to WebMD, it has better results than statin drugs, which can have many unwanted side effects.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin) are also believed to benefit the heart by lowering homocysteine levels in the blood, a toxic waste product produced during cellular metabolism. Further research is needed.
Magnesium & Potassium
Both of these minerals are essential to the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. In addition, magnesium and/or potassium supplements have been used for over fifty years to treat cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, arrhythmia, angina and congestive heart failure.
The above are just some of the best vitamins and supplements for heart health. Therefore, it is also important to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet as well as exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake and avoid smoking. It is best to consult with your health care provider before taking any supplementation, especially if you have a medical condition or you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)
WebMD: Supplementing Your Heart Health: Omega-3, Plant Sterols, and More - https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-lifestyle-guide/supplementing-your-heart-health-omega-3-plant-sterols
Cleveland Clinic: Role of inflammation - Growing proof inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease - https://www.clevelandclinic.org/heartcenter/pub/news/hot/inflammation8_02.asp?firstCat=1&secondCat=429&thirdCat=524
Image courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM)