Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, with the CDC reporting that one person dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease. The CDC also reports that about 697,000 people in the United States died of heart disease in 2020. That’s about one in five deaths reported that year.
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by adopting a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends diets that limit excess calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, and dietary cholesterol, such as the Mediterranean diet. And if you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals from your regular diet, the AHA also says taking certain supplements can help. While the best way to get these necessary vitamins and minerals is to foods you eat every dayyou might be interested in boosting your diet with supplements.
Here are dietary supplements for optimal heart health.
Best Heart Healthy Supplements
There are several supplements you can choose from if you think your diet doesn’t already contain enough heart-healthy vitamins and minerals.
Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent heart disease and stroke. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that people who eat a diet high in seafood – a primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids – are less likely to die of heart disease. These studies compared people who ate seafood at least once a week and those who rarely or never ate it.
You can buy supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as those containing fish oil or cod liver oil. However, several studies of these supplements could not find conclusive evidence that these products significantly reduced heart disease. So the best way to consume omega-3 fatty acids is to get them naturally from your diet. Look for fatty fish like wild salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout and Atlantic mackerel.
If you are taking medications that affect blood clotting, you should consult your doctor before taking omega-3 supplements.
Consuming a diet high in fiber could help lower your blood cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. The clinic says studies have shown high-fiber foods may also reduce blood pressure and inflammation, which may improve your heart health.
The clinic also states that those who do not get enough fiber – especially soluble fiber – in their diets can benefit from taking fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Konsyl and Citrucel.
Although there is no evidence that daily use of fiber supplements causes harm, they can cause side effects such as bloating and gas. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that if you have a history of Crohn’s disease or bowel obstruction in the past, you should talk to your doctor before taking fiber supplements.
If you don’t get enough magnesium, you may suffer from heart palpitations. This is because magnesium helps your body maintain a regular heartbeat and lower blood pressure. A lack of this mineral can also cause fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, nausea, and a general feeling of weakness, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
If you want increase your magnesium levels naturally, eat whole grains and dark green leafy vegetables. You can also get magnesium from low-fat milk, yogurt, soy, baked beans, peanuts, almonds, and cashews.
You can also get your daily magnesium from supplements, although health professionals recommend eating magnesium-rich foods as a better option. If you have end-stage liver or kidney disease, you should be especially careful not to consume too much magnesium, especially through dietary supplements, as too much of this mineral could be toxic. It is very rare to consume excess magnesium from food. It is more likely to come from oversupplementation.
Coenzyme Q10 – or CoQ10 – is an antioxidant that your body produces on its own. However, the levels of CoQ10 you produce decline as you age. The Mayo Clinic says people with heart disease often have lower levels of CoQ10.
You can, however, take dietary supplements to increase your levels of this antioxidant. As the Mayo Clinic says, you can take CoQ10 supplements in capsules, chewable tablets, liquid, and powders.
CoQ10 has been shown to improve conditions that reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, according to the Mayo Clinic. It might also help lower your blood pressure. It might even help people, when combined with other nutrients, who have had heart valve surgery and bypass surgery.
The Mayo Clinic says CoQ10 supplements come with few, usually mild symptoms, including loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, and upper abdominal pain. Avoid taking CoQ10 if you are taking Coumadin (warfarin).
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, can help maintain the correct level of homocysteine in your blood when used in conjunction with vitamins B6 and B12. This is important: high levels of homocysteine - an amino acid – are associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Folic acid supplementation does not decrease the risk of heart disease, but helps provide protection against heart disease such as stroke. The CDC also advises women who could become pregnant to consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. It’s because that Vitamin B helps prevent birth defects.
The Mayo Clinic says the best source of folic acid is a diet rich in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts. You will also get plenty of folic acid from fruits like oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries.
You can also get folic acid in its synthetic form in vitamins and in vitamin-fortified foods, such as cereals and pasta. The Mayo Clinic recommends folic acid supplements for people who have a poor diet or conditions that interfere with their body’s ability to absorb folate.
Folic acid supplements have mild side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, confusion, and irritability. You may also experience sleep disruptions after taking folic acid supplements.
Heart Health Supplement Risks
The most common form of heart-healthy supplements, such as folic acid, magnesium, and fiber, come with mild side effects. But if you have certain health conditions, such as kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, or blood clotting issues, you should discuss supplements with your doctor before taking them.
It is also important to note that the best way to get minerals and vitamins is through a healthy diet. Health professionals recommend diets high in seafood, leafy green vegetables, beans, fruits, and lean meats. If you follow a proper diet, you usually won’t need to take supplements.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.