5 Supplements to Control Your Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. More people die of heart disease than cancer or accidents or hospital errors. It’s the leading cause of death for men and women, as well as the leading cause of death for blacks, whites and Hispanics.
So, how healthy is your heart? If your first thought is something along the lines of, “My cholesterol is pretty good, so my heart must be okay,” then pull up a chair, because we need to talk.
Cholesterol is just one factor in heart health. As I’ve said many times, there are other, equally important elements to consider, including inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and blood pressure.
Real Help for Your Heart
What can you do to protect your heart? I hope you’ve already started on the most obvious lifestyle changes: stopping smoking, starting exercising, and eating more fruits and vegetables. But there are five additional factors to keep you from being the one in four of your fellow Americans who dies from heart disease. These five supplements address each of them.
1) Omega-3 manages cholesterol
Your heart needs the good fats found in omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs). I used to recommend eating more fish, because they are rich in omega-3s. But the oceans and other waterways are full of toxins, as are the salmon and herring that swim in them. So your best bet is to get your omega-3s from a daily dose of purified marine oil.
These beneficial fats:
- Fight inflammation throughout the body
- Raise your HDL (good) cholesterol
- Thin your blood
- Keep blood vessels flexible
If you’ve ever gardened, you know that when a rubber hose loses its flexibility, it can crack and burst open. This is similar to what happens in the body when arteries have hardened. After artery linings are damaged, either by high levels of glucose, the wrong fats, excessive bad cholesterol, or too much homocysteine, they become rigid and inflexible, leaving you more prone to a heart attack or stroke.
2.) Curcumin reduces inflammation
Elevated levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), which are measured in standard blood panels, mean your body is suffering from inflammation. Chronic, low-grade inflammation sets the stage for a host of ailments, including diabetes, cancer, and painful joint problems, like arthritis.
Curcumin, an extract of the spice known as turmeric, has proven its inflammation-fighting abilities in hundreds of studies. In addition, it also helps blood vessels dilate, so circulation is improved.
3.) Vitamin D3 supports healthy blood pressure
Vitamin D3 is a key nutrient for regulating blood pressure, hormones, maintaining healthy immunity, and keeping your bones strong. It also fights inflammation.
Testing in my practice consistently shows that patients are not producing enough D3 through sun exposure, even in sunny California. Although young people can easily manufacture D3 by exposing bare (sunblock- and clothing-free) skin to sunlight for twenty minutes a day, your ability to do so weakens as you get older. I recommend taking a supplement to make sure you’re getting enough.
4.) B vitamins reduce homocysteine
Homocysteine is an amino acid that can accumulate in the bloodstream. High levels of homocysteine can irritate and damage the tender linings of your blood vessels. The lesions created by this damage allow clusters of cholesterol plaque to collect in blood vessels. Plaque can cause strokes and heart attacks.
Certain B vitamins (B6, B12, and folic acid) are the best remedies for reducing homocysteine. These nutrients are water soluble, which means they cannot be stored in the body, so I recommend daily supplementation.
5.) CoQ10 strengthens your heart
There is one supplement that everyone who cares about heart health should know about, and that is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This vitamin-like substance plays a major role in firing up the tiny mitochondria that provide your body with power. As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, CoQ10 sparks the energy production for your heart, similar to the spark plugs that “ignite” your car’s engine.
In addition, CoQ10 works as an antioxidant to protect your heart from damage by rogue molecules known as free radicals. Studies have shown that it helps reduce bad cholesterol, improve good cholesterol, and protect the heart during a heart attack. With a resume like that, CoQ10 is clearly one nutrient that’s worth its weight in gold.
Although your body produces CoQ10, the amount decreases as you grow older. Low levels of CoQ10 are commonly seen in conjunction with various heart ailments, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and conditions that affect muscles. CoQ10 supplementation is a must if you take a statin drug for cholesterol management, because statins restrict your body’s production of CoQ10.
Your heart is an incredibly hard-working, efficient machine that needs to be properly nourished. Taking a few simple steps to protect it now can reward you with improved health for years to come.