Keeping our heart strong and healthy should be an everyday goal that never goes away or gets covered up. It is predicated on how well we conduct our lives, how we eat, how we exercise, how devoted we are to submitting to a physical checkup with our physician every year to make sure all things cardiovascular are ticking and operating correctly. Having a good working knowledge of supplements can help in a big way, too. There are a variety of supplements that are primarily directed at heart health, and that includes factors such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels. There are other variables that put us at risk of heart disease, and therefore heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related issues that can hinder us, incapacitate us or even kill us. For many people, monitoring cholesterol and blood pressure are daily rituals, a fundamental part of everyday life. Fortunately, there are a number of safe, natural therapies, including supplements for heart health, that address the underlying causes of cardiovascular health concerns.
Helpful Supplements and Nutrients For Heart HealthBefore we get into identifying nutrients and supplements that can provide a helpful boost to heart health, it's important to understand that these are not tit-for-tat substitutes meant to replace medicines that have been prescribed by healthcare professionals for patients with heart issues. Starting a regimen of supplements is a conversation you need to have with your physician – as is starting a new diet or exercise program, all aimed at cardiovascular care. Following are some supplements, vitamins and nutrients believed to be beneficial to cardiovascular health. Remember: talk it over with your physician – this also goes for anyone taking prescription medicine for conditions not heart-related. Let's be thorough out there:
- Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids (fish oils). Fish oils have been shown to cut down the risk of heart attack or stroke. Studies have shown that they can enhance insulin sensitivity, and they have a role in reducing the risk of sudden cardiac death, per betternutrition.com.
- Plant sterol products. Often found in foods such as grains and nuts, naturally occurring, plant-based sterols can decrease how much cholesterol your body absorbs from food that you have consumed.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): To keep beating more than 86,000 times a day, on average, the heart needs energy, and CoQ10 helps provide it. It recharges cell mitochondria that generates energy to fuel the heart.
- Garlic. Per pharmacytimes.com, animal and in vitro studies have shown that garlic has hypotensive, hypolipidemic and antiplatelet properties. In layman's terms, consumption of garlic – whether as a dietary food or supplement – has a variety of cardiovascular benefits. Beware: too much garlic can produce unwanted symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and heartburn. Think moderation (and professional guidance).
- Niacin. Among other things, niacin can raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. It can also reduce what's known as Lp(a), which is a separate risk factor tied in to heart disease and heart attacks.
- L-carnitine. This is a nutrient that works in tandem with CoQ10 to help provide energy for the efficient function of the heart.
- Vitamin K. There are actually two types of vitamin K – there's K1, which helps the blood to clot when needed. Then there's K2, which has a role in preventing hardening of the arteries, which is caused by calcification. K2 can be found in foods such as natto, egg yolks and liver, but many people still are deficient in vitamin K2, which is where supplements come into the picture.
- Magnesium. Also known as the anti-stress nutrient, magnesium helps dilate the arteries, effectively reducing blood pressure, which in turn allows the heart to pump blood more easily. It also has been shown to regulate blood-sugar levels, thus helping to guard against diabetes and metabolic syndrome, two conditions whose presence increase the risk of heart disease.