The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, as it helps to pump blood containing life-giving oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. While maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise remain primary steps for cardiovascular health, an emerging field of research has shed light on the potential benefits of supplements in supporting cardiovascular wellness.
Certain vitamins and supplements work to supply the cardiovascular system with the necessary nutrients to function optimally and prevent or replete deficiencies. These functions include supporting maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels, keeping homocysteine levels normal, and managing oxidative stress to maintain healthy blood vessel function.
The following supplements may benefit the cardiovascular system, according to research. We’ll unveil the promising roles of the best dietary supplements for heart health.
Although certain vitamins and minerals may promote heart health, there is currently no strong evidence that multivitamins lower the risk of heart disease. However, since they can be an easy part of a wellness routine, adding a multivitamin may be a helpful addition to your daily activities. The body requires certain amounts of vitamins and minerals to function, but certain dietary and lifestyle factors may prevent getting enough of these vital nutrients. For example, diets may not perfectly meet the daily recommended amounts, and a stressful lifestyle may increase the need for certain nutrients as well as lead to impaired absorption of some nutrients.
Multivitamins are quite popular, but it is important not to take these supplements as a way to make up for an unhealthy lifestyle. This means that whether you take multivitamins or not, it’s still important to exercise, hydrate, get adequate sleep, and eat a balanced diet filled with plenty of protein foods, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that is especially important for muscle health and function. The heart is one of the most important muscles in the body and uses magnesium in its pumping action to circulate blood throughout the body.
One review illustrates how important magnesium is for the heart. Magnesium may help maintain blood pressure already within normal range by working synergistically with calcium and other minerals like potassium and sodium to regulate blood pressure. This review also pointed to research showing that participants who supplemented with magnesium experienced improved mood and energy.
Magnesium can be found in pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark leafy greens, legumes, and cocoa. Supplementation may be beneficial if you do not get enough magnesium-rich foods in your diet. Care/of’s Magnesium supplement is sourced from Irish seawater which also provides 72 trace minerals.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a nutrient naturally found in human tissues in varying amounts. The highest amount of CoQ10 is found in organs that have high rates of metabolism, and the heart is one of these organs. CoQ10 acts as an energy transfer molecule in the heart. Deficiencies in CoQ10 can disrupt cellular energy metabolism and contribute to issues in muscles including the heart. Levels of CoQ10 may vary in people due to age, levels of activity, or use of certain medications.
Coenzyme Q10 also has antioxidant-like properties, which can help mitigate oxidative stress caused by the formation of free radicals during cellular processes.
Most people get a fair amount of coenzyme Q10 from whole grains, oily fish, and organ meat and also produce CoQ10 naturally in the body. But a Coenzyme Q10 dietary supplement may be beneficial. A systematic review article describes CoQ10 supplementation as a means to improve cellular energy and promote health in healthy people who exercise.
Omega-3 fatty acids have shown potential in promoting heart health. These essential fatty acids cannot be produced by the body and therefore must be obtained through nutrition or supplementation, or both. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help with:
The best dietary sources of omega-3 fats include oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines. Animal-based omega-3 fats come in the form of EPA and DHA, which are the essential forms that the body needs. Plant-based foods that contain omega-3 fats in the form of ALA include flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts. However, the body can convert ALA to the necessary EPA and DHA forms only in small amounts, so it is essential to get EPA and DHA from foods or from supplements.
In fact, in 2004, the FDA announced qualified health claims for omega-3 fatty acids, noting supportive but not conclusive research showing that consuming EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Care/of offers a Fish Oil supplement with a total of 400 mg of EPA and DHA per serving.
Vegetarians and vegans may struggle with getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA. Fish oil is often the only option available, but algae oil is a great alternative. Care/of’s Veggie Omega provides 540 mg of EPA and DHA per serving using sustainable microalgae.
Folic acid is known for its crucial role in promoting heart health. It is also known as vitamin B9 and works best in the body as folate, which is its biological form. Folate works with vitamins B6 and B12 to help keep homocysteine levels low. While homocysteine is an amino acid that is normally found in the body in small quantities and is broken down to make proteins, it can be unhealthy at excess levels. Some studies suggest that deficiencies in vitamins B6, B12, or folic acid may result in high levels of homocysteine. High homocysteine levels can negatively impact blood vessel function by increasing oxidative stress which can eventually lead to potential issues. Maintaining normal values can contribute to maintaining optimal heart health.
Foods rich in folate include spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lentils, and liver. Taking a B-Complex supplement can also ensure adequate intake of folate along with the other B vitamins necessary for heart health and energy production.
Vitamin D, often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," is known for its numerous health benefits, including immune health, bone health, and even its potential impact on heart health. Vitamin D receptors are present in various cells of the cardiovascular system, and it plays a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure (already in normal range), healthy insulin sensitivity (already in normal range), and enhancing overall vascular function.
According to the National Institutes of Health, while a lot of observational studies in the past have shown that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D had lower rates of cardiovascular issues, it is not confirmed that vitamin D drove that effect or was rather just a marker of risk. Intake of 800 IU daily of vitamin D remains the recommendation for most adults. You can meet these daily goals through sun exposure, vitamin D-rich foods, such as oily fish and eggs, and appropriate supplementation.
It is important to note that individual needs for vitamin D may vary, and consulting with a healthcare professional to get your levels checked and for personalized guidance on supplementation is recommended.
Dietary fiber has also shown to be significantly beneficial for heart health. Soluble fiber, in particular, may be the most influential and can be found in a variety of plant-based foods. High fiber diets which contain between 25 to 38 g of fiber each day may promote healthy cholesterol levels already in normal range. Dietary fiber can also improve the health of the gut microbiome, which has been shown to impact cardiovascular health. The connection between the gut microbiome and cardiovascular health has been a topic of significant interest in research in recent years.
If eating the recommended amount of fiber is challenging, supplements like Chia-Flax are available to help bridge any gaps from the diet. You can easily add the powder into your smoothie or yogurt for a boost of fiber. One serving contains 4 grams of fiber which can be between 10-16% of your recommended daily intake.
While there is a growing body of research suggesting the potential benefits of certain supplements for heart health, it is important to note that not all supplements have been proven effective in this regard. It is essential to approach supplement use with caution and rely on evidence-based information.
There are many proactive steps you can take to support a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. Quitting smoking, for example, is a significant risk factor in cardiovascular health issues.
Eating the right foods is one of the best ways to help your heart. Limit processed food and include plenty of antioxidant-rich foods like colorful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Garlic, nuts and berries as well as foods containing dietary fiber are particularly good for heart health.
The unmistakable aroma of garlic actually denotes the organosulfur called allicin. This defensive compound has shown beneficial antioxidant properties. Garlic can help promote the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels and healthy blood pressure levels when both are already in normal range.
Research shows that both nuts and berries are also helpful for supporting heart health. These nutrient-dense foods have antioxidant properties which can help manage free radicals. Nuts are a good source of arginine, an amino acid which contributes to dilating blood vessels which helps with maintaining healthy circulation. Berries contain polyphenols such as anthocyanins that have been shown to promote cardiovascular health through multiple mechanisms.
It’s well known that regular moderate exercise is good for cardiovascular health. In fact, we’re just beginning to understand how significant of a health risk a sedentary lifestyle can be, including its impact on the heart.
Generally, any type of movement is helpful, from gentle exercise like yoga to intensive workouts like HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Getting in at least 10,000 steps a day has been a popular tip for a number of years now. If you are new to exercise, you may want to talk to your doctor to determine the most reasonable exercise program for your fitness level.
Also, keep in mind that although it can be a rare occurrence, some research indicates that too much exercise without adequate time for recovery can actually be detrimental towards cardiovascular health. So, with exercise, like with most things, moderation and consistency are best. Jogging for 15 minutes a few days each week, according to this study, is preferable to less intense strolls or high endurance hours of extreme cardio. The overall recommendation for the US Physical Activity Guideline is 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity exercise. Adequate recovery through rest days, nutrition, sleep, and stress management is key to get the adaptive benefits of exercise.
The impact of stress on heart health cannot be underestimated. Prolonged or chronic stress can have negative effects on the cardiovascular system. When we experience stress, our bodies release stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can elevate heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. These responses are necessary and vital for some of the day to day activities of life. However, if persistent, chronic stress can be a risk factor that contributes to the development of cardiovascular issues.
Daily stress management practices can help to reduce stress. These include meditation, prayer, yoga, exercise in many forms, spending time in nature, and journaling. Incorporating daily stress management practices.
Getting adequate and quality sleep is important for heart health. Sleep deprivation increases sympathetic nervous system activity, which puts the body into a stress state. For reasons discussed above, this increased stress response can increase the risk for cardiovascular issues. According to the CDC, the recommended hours of sleep per day for adults is 7 or more per day. Research shows that people who sleep less than 7 hours per night have increased risk for cardiovascular issues. Inadequate sleep can also negatively impact immune function, which can lead to adverse effects on the tissues of the cardiovascular system. If you are having persistent or chronic issues with sleep, be sure to talk to your doctor as it can be a sign of a serious issue.
For occasional trouble falling asleep due to travel or jet lag, Care/of has a formula called Sleep Blend. The formula contains both melatonin and ashwagandha which have been clinically studied for their impact on sleep. Melatonin has been proven to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep while ashwagandha helps calm the body and mind before bed.
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise remains the cornerstone of heart health, certain supplements have shown promise in supporting cardiovascular well-being. Omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, folate, and fiber are among the supplements that have demonstrated potential benefits in maintaining blood lipid profiles already in normal range, enhancing vascular function, and supporting overall heart health.
However, it is important to approach supplement use with caution, ensuring reliable sourcing, and appropriate dosages. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before starting supplements, especially if you are taking any medications, as interactions can occur. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if supplementation is a fit for you and give guidance on the type and dose. Supplements are also not a substitute for healthy habits, but when used wisely, they can complement a heart-healthy lifestyle and provide additional support.