3 Supplements that Boost Heart Health

December 18, 2022 at 1:25 p.m.
A recent study points to the effectiveness of taking three specific nutritional supplements as part of a heart healthy lifestyle
A recent study points to the effectiveness of taking three specific nutritional supplements as part of a heart healthy lifestyle

Heart health can’t be found in a bottle. If you want to work on a healthy heart, you must turn to regular exercise, proper nutrition, avoiding smoking and other lifestyle choices.

However, a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reviewed 900 clinical trails and 27 different micronutrients found that three specific supplements offer the biggest positive impact on the heart: omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and the antioxidant coenzyme Q10.


"Research on micronutrient supplementation has mainly focused on the health effects of a single or a few vitamins and minerals," said Simin Liu, MD, MS MPH, ScD, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University. Dr. Liu was a lead researcher for the study. "We decided to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate all the publicly available and accessible studies reporting all micronutrients, including phytochemicals and antioxidant supplements, and their effects on cardiovascular risk factors as well as multiple cardiovascular diseases."


Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in certain kinds of fish – particularly salmon – and fish oil but can also be found in vegetarian options like flax and chia seed, and algae supplements (fish get their omega-3s from consuming algae). The conclusions from this study show that omega-3 fatty acids lower mortality risks from heart disease by helping to prevent coronary heart disease and by slowing its progress for those who already have it. Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by atherosclerosis, a long-term process in which fatty deposits called plaque build up on the inside of arteries, impeding blood flow. Over time, arteries can become so narrow that blood flow is diminished or can be easily blocked by plaque or a blood clot. The condition can cause not only chest pain (angina) but also a heart attack. Atherosclerosis begins when the inside wall of an artery is damaged by inflammation or by high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. While diets high in saturated fats increases cholesterol and triglycerides, healthy diets and other heart health lifestyle choices can reduce your risk. Artery damage can also be impacted by high blood pressure, smoking, or diabetes.

Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk for (CHD) by reducing or preventing inflammation of the blood vessels and the formation of blood clots. Omega-3s also lower the risk for abnormal heart rhythm, lowers triglyceride levels and reduces the growth rate of plaque that clogs blood vessels.

Folic Acid:

The study found that folic acid cuts an individual’s chances of experiencing a stroke. Folic acid helps to break down homocysteine, an amino acid that may damage the inner walls of arteries. Such damage can boost the risk of a stroke. Some studies that were reviewed showed that folic acid therapy significantly decreased the risk of stroke for patients with cardiovascular disease. Folic acid has been a mainstay for pregnant women because of its benefits in preventing birth defects. But new studies indicate that a daily dose of folic acid could reduce a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke by 20%.

David S. Wald, from an associated study through the department of cardiology at Southampton General Hospital, UK, wrote, "The folic acid could be taken as tablets by high-risk patients, and possibly supplied to the general public through food fortification or a combination of both." Many cereals and grain products in the U.S. are already fortified with folic acid. Natural dietary sources of folic acid (also known as folate in foods) include fruits and leafy, green vegetables.

Coenzyme Q10:

The study found that the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) reduces mortality risks from cardiovascular disease overall. It is thought that CoQ10 improves symptoms of congestive heart failure, helps reduce blood pressure and, when combined with other nutrients, may aid in recovery in people who’ve had bypass and heart valve surgeries (from the Mayo Clinic). Low levels of CoQ10 have been associated with low levels of “good cholesterol” which in turn may further increase the risk for heart disease.
CoQ10 can be taken as a nutritional supplement and is also found in foods such as broccoli and cauliflower, lentils, peanuts and other nuts, sesame seeds, spinach, vegetable oils and cold water fish such as salmon and tuna.

The study also looked at other nutritional supplements that, while may provide boosts to other types of health, did not show any direct correlation to reducing the risks of long-term cardiovascular disease. Those supplements included vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium and beta carotene.

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