June 3, 2013

Heart Healthy Supplements

heart healthy supplements
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Heart Healthy Supplements

Can heart healthy supplements reduce the risk of heart disease?  Despite all the attention it receives heart disease remains the number one killer in the United States. Clearly the American diet is the main contributor to this deadly killer.

Diet wise the best step you can take to reduce your risk of getting heart disease is eliminate all added sugars from your diet – not as easy as it sounds once you begin to realize all the places sugars and its aliases hide. On top of that step you can also take any number of heart healthy supplements to further reduce your chances of succumbing to the number one killer.

The heart beats 60 to 100 times a minute. That means it is constantly working. Thus, it needs ongoing sources of oxygen and nutrients to produce energy. The heart derives 60% of its energy needs from the breakdown of fats (another reason we need some fat in our diets). So any supplement that improves the production or utilization of energy can be a heart healthy supplement.

Effective Heart Healthy Supplements

We are going to discuss the following heart healthy supplements:

  • Coenzyme Q10
  • L-carnitine
  • D-ribose
  • R-Lipoic acid
  • Magnesium
  • Fish oil

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 improves the body’s ability to produce energy in the form of ATP the main energy molecule the body uses. ATP is generated in the mitochondria – tiny organelles in every cell. CoQ10 carries electrons into the mitochondria that are necessary for ATP production. CoQ10 decreases as we age and certain medications, ironically some that are used to treat heart disease, lower CoQ10 levels. These include statin drugs and beta-blockers.

CoQ10 has been approved as a drug in Japan to treat heart failure. CoQ10 has been shown to lower blood pressure, too. CoQ10 also is a potent antioxidant and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. A recommended dose is 200 mg a day and even more if you have existing heart disease.


L-carnitine is needed to shuttle fatty acids into the mitochondria that ultimately produce ATP. L-carnitine has been shown to reduce cardiovascular mortality and improve exercise endurance in patients with heart disease. By stimulating two stress-related enzyme systems L-carnitine enhances the body’s natural anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Recommended doses are 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day.


D-ribose is a five carbon ring sugar, but functions much differently than the six carbon sugars that we typically think that are detrimental to our health. D-ribose is one of the actual building blocks needed to make ATP. Without it there is literally no ATP and therefore no energy. The body is able to manufacture D-ribose but unable to store it. So a constant supply is a must. Recommended dose is 5 grams for prevention and 10 to 15 grams a day for those with existing heart disease.

R-Lipoic Acid

R-lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant. It’s unique in that it is both water and fat soluble. It is good for heart and general health. Recommended doses are 100 mg to 300 mg  a day.


Magnesium is an important mineral that factors in over 300 reactions. Magnesium has properties similar to a group of prescription drugs called calcium channel blockers. By blocking calcium magnesium relaxes smooth muscles in blood vessels. This lowers blood pressure. Magnesium also prevents platelets from clumping together reducing the prospects of blood clots. Magnesium also improves insulin sensitivity and most diabetics are deficient in magnesium. Recommended doses are 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day.

Fish Oil

You had to know fish oil would be on the list. The omega-3s in fish oil – DHA and EPA – lower triglycerides, blood pressure, resting heart rate, inflammation, and improves overall vascular health. When discussing doses of fish oil it’s important to recognize that they are usually based on the combined doses of DHA and EPA. Typically one-third to two-thirds of the omega-3s found in a typical fish oil capsule is DHA and EPA. If you’re healthy doses of 1,000 to 2,000 mg of EPA/DHA are recommended. If you have heart disease consider at least twice that amount.

Other heart healthy supplements that we have discussed in the past include curcumin, resveratrol, and cocoa extract.

See related articles.

Resveratrol And Heart Disease

The Health Benefits Of Cocoa

Up And Coming Anti Aging Herbal Remedies


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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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