Nutritional Supplements for Heart Disease
Julian Whitaker, MD
Targeted nutritional supplements make all the difference when it comes to treating heart disease. Here’s a list of the essentials.
Antioxidants. A study published in the Lancet found that men and women with the lowest vitamin C levels were twice as likely to die of heart disease as those with the highest levels. The Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS), a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that involved 2,002 patients, concluded that people taking 400 to 800 IU of vitamin E daily had 75 percent fewer heart attacks than those taking a placebo. Vitamins C and E, along with other antioxidants (vitamin A, beta-carotene, and selenium), should be considered front-line defense against cardiovascular disease. Suggested doses: vitamin C a minimum of 1,000 mg daily; vitamin E 400-800 IU.
B-complex vitamins. Folic acid and vitamins B12 and B6 provide powerful protection against heart disease. They normalize levels of homocysteine, a toxic amino acid that damages the arteries and initiates atherosclerosis. Suggested doses: at least 400 mcg of folic acid; at least 75 mg of vitamin B6; and at least 100 mcg of vitamin B12 daily.
Niacin. Niacin is a B-complex vitamin that helps lower levels of LDL cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), and triglycerides—all risk factors for cardiovascular disease—while raising levels of protective HDL cholesterol. To read more about how niacin lowers cholesterol, click here. Suggested dose: 1,000–2,000 mg daily. (High-dose niacin is best taken under the supervision of a doctor. In addition to flushing, other side effects include occasional gastrointestinal distress, skin sensitivity, and rare liver toxicity, so liver enzymes should be checked periodically. High-dose niacin may worsen blood sugar control in diabetics, but with proper monitoring it can be used safely. If you have a peptic ulcer, gout, or liver disease, use with caution.)
Fish oil. In addition to eating cold-water fish two or three times a week, I recommend supplementing with fish oil. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil help reduce inflammation and excessive blood clotting, lower cholesterol and especially triglycerides, and prevent dangerous heart arrhythmias. Want to learn how? Click here. Suggested dose: 2-8 g per day.
Magnesium. Half of all Americans are deficient in magnesium, a mineral with multiple benefits for the cardiovascular system. It increases your heart’s supply of oxygen, retards arterial blockages, and smoothes out irregular heart rhythms. Magnesium works in a manner similar to the popular calcium channel blocker drugs, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure without the side effects of these drugs. Suggested dose: 500-1,000 mg daily.
Coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is involved in energy production in the mitochondria of your cells, particularly in the heart, and is a potent antioxidant. These diverse actions make CoQ10 a godsend for the cardiovascular system. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce angina, and correct arrhythmias. It also protects against congestive heart failure and dramatically prolongs the lives of patients with this serious condition. If you are taking a statin cholesterol-lowering drug (Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, Lescol, or Pravachol), you need CoQ10 more than you may know. These drugs reduce your production of CoQ10 by as much as 40 percent. To read more about this miracle nutrient, click here. Suggested dose: 60-120 mg for general health, 200-300 mg if you use cholesterol-lowering statin drugs or need extra support.
D-Ribose. Ribose is a naturally occurring sugar that is a key player in the synthesis of ATP, (adenosine triphosphate), the energy that powers all cellular activity. When production falters, energy flags and, as you know, your heart muscle is a voracious consumer of energy. Scores of studies support supplemental ribose’s ability to boost ATP synthesis in oxygen-deprived tissues, providing much-needed energy for recovery and repair. Ribose dramatically and rapidly increases ATP stores in patients with cardiac ischemia (the underlying cause of angina and heart attacks). It also improves heart function, exercise tolerance, energy, and quality of life in patients with congestive heart failure. Want to learn more? Click here. Suggested dose: 10-15 g per day.
Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Copyright 2008. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healing, click here.