Looking out for and taking care of our health can be a complex chore with a multitude of factors, body parts, and organs to think about. However, it’s not too difficult to know where a good starting point is when it comes to health considerations – the heart. For the average person, the heart beats more than 85,000 times a day, pushing out blood through miles and miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries, supplying our body with what it needs to survive and, presumably, thrive.
Eating right and exercise are at the core of maintaining and even improving heart health. For many people, though, additional help is needed in the form of vitamins, supplements, and nutrients that target many of the functions and systems that comprise the entire cardiovascular system, pitching in to help out as needed . . . to plug a gap or make up a deficit. This may be of particular concern for anyone who has experienced a heart-related episode or has a family history of heart disease.
Following is a list of vitamins, supplements, and nutrients that are believed to be beneficial to cardiovascular health, the heart, in particular. As with any new regimen, be sure to discuss any of this with your physician before diving in to use any of these:
- Aspirin. Known mainly for its capacity to alleviate pain, such as that in the head, but as an anti-inflammatory, it supposedly can thin the blood and thus diminish the chances of clots developing that can lead to heart attacks, per menshealth.com.
- Vitamin B-12. Whether or not B-12 can actually help prevent heart disease remains in question; however, it can apparently reduce homocysteine, an amino acid by-product that has been ID’ed as a risk marker for cardiovascular events, per prevention.com.
- Citrus bergamot. A well-rounded protector of the heart, per betternutrition.com, in that 1. It lowers triglycerides, 2. It raises HDL/good cholesterol, and 3. It lowers blood sugar.
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Our body makes small amounts of this enzyme on its own. As a supplement, CoQ10 can, among other things, help lower blood pressure, per webmd.com, and it has been shown to help patients taking heart-failure drugs to feel better.
- Vitamin D. A deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease. The chief natural source of vitamin D is sunlight, but note that 85 percent of Americans are deemed D deficient, per menshealth.com. This is where vitamin D supplements can help close the gap.
- Fiber. Found naturally in many foods such as fruits, grains, and vegetables, fiber helps minimize the amount of cholesterol soaked up from ingested food. Per webmd.com, there is proof that blond psyllium husk, found in many fiber supplements, is effective at lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Garlic. It’s not only a versatile appetizer, but studies have shown it able to lower blood pressure. It might even slow the arterial buildup of plaque that could otherwise lead to blood clots, per webmd.com.
- Green tea. Anyone with hypertension ought to consider trying green tea, if we are to believe the research – and provided we get the thumbs-up from our physicians. This stuff reportedly can not only reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol but also raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol AND reduce triglycerides – three for three!
- Hawthorn extract. An herb that supports oxygenation and blood flow to the heart.
- Vitamin K. There’re two kinds – K1 and K2. The former helps in the clotting of blood; the latter helps make sure that calcium gets to where it belongs – into the bones – instead of getting stuck in the arteries.
- L-carnitine. A substance that carries fatty acids into the heart’s muscle cells to be burned for conversion into energy.
- Magnesium. Referred to as an “anti-stress” nutrient, per betternutrition.com, because it can dilate (relax) the arteries, lowering blood pressure and making it easier for the heart to pump blood.
- Niacin. Known for boosting good cholesterol as needed in individuals.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. The jury remains out on whether fatty acids, usually found in fish oil, can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, but they have been shown capable of cutting unhealthy triglycerides in the blood by up to 30 percent, per webmd.com.
- Stanols and sterols. Found in nuts and grains, as well as other foods, like fiber they can reduce how much cholesterol our body absorbs from food.
- Turmeric. It contains a polyphenol – curcumin – that is classified as an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, per prevention.com, which comes in handy because inflammation often is associated with cardiovascular disease (as well as Alzheimer’s disease).