6 Heart Health Supplements to Lower Cholesterol

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Your heart matters to you. Eating healthy and exercising are great ways to keep your heart in shape. To live a long, active life, it’s important to care for your heart. And while that absolutely involves excellent nutrition and regular exercise, new research has discovered that you can further boost your heart health, but a little bit of supplementing never hurt anyone.  Supplements can be in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form. They supplement (add to) the diet and should not be considered a substitute for food.

To get the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants required for your body to function optimally, consider taking a whole food based multivitamin. Whole food vitamins are made with natural ingredients sourced from whole foods, and they may be a healthier alternative to multivitamins with synthetic ingredients.  If you’re already doing so, branch out to these heart-health superstars.

>>1. Vitamin C

If you take vitamin C to boost immunity, you may be benefiting your heart as well. This powerful antioxidant reduces free-radical damage throughout the body, lessening overall inflammation and inhibiting the production of C-reactive protein, Moyad says. Studies have shown that vitamin C also plays a role in keeping blood pressure down, in theory because it helps blood-vessel walls dilate, which increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
Dose: 500 to 1,000 mg per day
Tips: If you’re prone to heartburn or acid reflux, avoid ascorbic acid—the most common form of supplemental vitamin C—and opt for Ester-C, which consists of pH-neutral calcium ascorbate. High doses of ascorbic acid can also lead to kidney stones.

>>2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D protects the heart by blocking a compound called angiotensinogen, released by the liver, that increases blood pressure. In addition, vitamin D regulates the immune system and lowers inflammation throughout the body. “Although vitamin D is important, taking more of it is not better for you,” Moyad cautions.
Dose: 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day

Tip: Sinatra says vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), which the skin produces in response to sun exposure, may be more effective than its sibling vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), found in plant foods.

>>3. Magnesium

This mineral aids optimal muscle and nerve function, both critical components of cardiac health. Your heart is the one muscle in your body that never stops working, so it requires a steady stream of electrical impulses to keep it beating, says Dennis Goodman, MD, director of integrative medicine at New York Medical Associates in Manhattan. “Without enough magnesium, you are at risk for developing potentially harmful erratic heartbeats known as arrhythmias.” Studies at the Medical University of South Carolina have found that the less magnesium adults consume, the higher their levels of C-reactive protein.
Dose: 250 to 400 mg per day
Tip: If you experience loose stools, cramping, or high blood pressure, decrease your dose.

>>4. Coenzyme Q10

Like polyphenols, this fat-soluble antioxidant compound prevents free radicals from corroding LDL cholesterol, so LDL doesn’t adhere to artery walls, Goodman says. Coenzyme Q10 also helps cells manufacture energy, which the heart needs in massive quantities. “A constantly beating heart requires a constant source of energy,” he says.
Dose: 30 to 150 mg per day
Tip: Co-Q10 may cause insomnia and can reduce the efficacy of prescription blood thinners.

>>5. Fiber

Eating more fiber is a great way to take care of your heart — but it can also benefit your whole body. Foods high in fiber can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. And a study in The Journal of Nutrition found that a high-fiber diet can help with weight loss, too. Yet the average American eats only about 15 grams of fiber per day — well below the recommended amount. Women under 50 should aim for 25 grams per day, while women over 50 should consume 21 grams of fiber per day. For men under 50, the daily recommended amount jumps to 38 grams per day, or 30 grams per day for men over 50.

Tip:  To increase the amount of fiber in your diet focus on whole grains. What’s the number one tip for heart health? “Eat more whole grains,” says Cardiologist Mingsum Lee, MD at Kaiser PermanenteDr.  So instead of white bread or refined pasta, try farro or quinoa as the base of your next meal.

>>6. Red yeast rice extract

The heart-protective qualities of this extract from the yeast grown on red rice result from a compound known as monakolin K, which works very similarly to statin drugs, blocking the enzyme in the liver that manufactures LDL cholesterol. “I’ve seen patients lower their cholesterol levels by as much as 40 points while taking red yeast rice,” Moyad says. A 2008 study found that in addition to making healthy lifestyle changes such as exercising more, taking the extract for 12 weeks in combination with fish-oil supplements resulted in a slightly higher cholesterol reduction and a significant drop in triglycerides—blood fats associated with cardiovascular disease—than taking prescription statins for the same amount of time.
Dose: Consult your healthcare practitioner
Tip: Red yeast rice may increase the risk of bleeding.

 

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