Best Supplements for Heart Health in 2022
Heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in America, killing 649,000 people every year. 48% of adult Americans have some form of heart disease, most commonly high blood pressure, and that number continues to increase.
The prevalence of supplements that claim to support heart health or prevent or reduce the effects of heart disease should come as no surprise then. Not all supplements are truly beneficial, however, as they are regulated by the FDA as food rather than drugs.
The following are the supplements that have been backed by research and shown to benefit heart health. Always consult with your doctor prior to taking any supplements to ensure that they will not interact with any medications that you are currently taking.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 supplements are one of the most popular and highly researched supplements available for improving heart health. Omega-3 supplements have been recommended by the American Heart Association for over 20 years, but definitive proof of its efficacy remains elusive.
While there has been evidence that Omega-3 supplements can help reduce the levels of HDL cholesterol in the bloodstream, thereby reducing plaque buildup in the arteries, there is even more evidence that a regular diet of fatty fish produces the same results.
There is some concern surrounding eating too much fish that may be high in mercury, such as swordfish, some tunas, and king mackerel. There are, however, plenty of other fish that provide significant Omega-3 benefits with much lower mercury risks such as salmon, cod, and herring.
In most cases, increasing the amount of fish that you eat will provide the same benefits as an Omega-3 or fish oil supplement. For those who do not enjoy the taste of fish, it may be beneficial to discuss the benefits of a prescription Omega-3 supplement with their doctor.
Coenzyme 10 (CoQ10)
This enzyme, also known as ubiquinone and ubiquinol, is naturally produced in small amounts in the body. A deficiency of this enzyme is a leading contributor to congestive heart failure. CoQ10 has been shown effective in:
- Preventing muscle damage
- Lowering triglycerides
- Lowering cholesterol
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of heart attack
Additionally, research suggests that CoQ10 may be beneficial in relieving the muscle pains and spasms that are frequently reported by people who take statins on a regular basis.
Long-term use of CoQ10 during the Q-SYMBIO trial showed a 43% reduction in major cardiac events in people who took 100mg of CoQ10 three times a day versus the placebo group.
Red Yeast Rice
Red Yeast Rice contains a beneficial component called monacolin K which is one of the primary ingredients in many statin medications. This supplement does not exist naturally in food and cannot be incorporated into a healthy diet.
It is derived from rice that has been fermented in a certain type of yeast and then extracted. Although it has been used in Asian medicine for centuries, red yeast rice is relatively new to the Western world.
The few studies that have been done on it, however, show that it can significantly lower LDL cholesterol by 15% to 25% in 6 to 8 weeks. People who are already taking statins for their cholesterol should consult with their doctor before incorporating red yeast rice as a supplement.
Magnesium is essential in helping the body transport electrolytes to different cells throughout the body. For the heart, electrolytes play a vital role in ensuring that the muscles of the heart contract normally.
Most people are able to get the recommended amount of magnesium that they need from the foods that they eat regularly. However, some conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Alcoholism, or simply a poor diet can lead to a magnesium deficiency.
A magnesium deficiency can lead to an irregular heart rhythm, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, migraines, and more. A blood test can determine if your magnesium levels are low, and in these cases, a magnesium supplement can be extremely beneficial.
These supplements can be easily ingested with a healthy diet and do not typically require supplementation, although these supplements are available as well.
Fiber is an essential carbohydrate that helps the body reduce the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed in the bloodstream. In addition, fiber helps people have regular bowel movements and reduces the risk of heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
Most healthy adults are recommended to eat between 25-30 grams of fiber every day. More than that can inadvertently cause intestinal discomfort and gas buildup. Ensure that you are drinking a sufficient amount of water daily when increasing your fiber intake to help prevent discomfort.
Some research has shown that garlic may reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol in the heart. In addition, it may prevent cellular damage, improve the body’s immune system, and reduce plaque buildup in the coronary arteries.
Supplements to Avoid
While most supplements at worst tend to provide no significant benefit to overall health, there are a few that should be completely avoided if you have a heart condition or any type of heart disease unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
Although calcium is a necessary vitamin for bone density and a healthy heart too much of it can be detrimental. A study from 2106 showed evidence that calcium supplements may promote plaque buildup in the coronary arteries which can lead to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Most people are able to get an adequate amount of calcium through a healthy diet without needing to take supplements. Those that do require a calcium supplement should only take them under the guidance and supervision of a doctor.
Not only do Vitamin E supplements offer no benefits to patients with heart conditions, but they have actually been shown to potentially cause harm.
In a study of 10,000 people with heart disease that were given Vitamin E to potentially help their condition, there was a 13% increase in developing a higher risk of heart failure and a 21% increase in the risk of hospitalization from heart failure.
Herbal supplements have always been a questionable presence in the vitamin aisle because many of them interact negatively with certain health conditions and medications.
People with a history of heart disease and heart conditions should avoid supplements containing bitter orange, ginkgo, St. John’s Wort, and licorice. These supplements have been shown to increase blood pressure dangerously and interfere with the efficacy of heart medications.