Overall health is heavily related to our heart health. With that in mind, we want to make sure we have an adequate intake of all of the essential nutrients that help to keep our hearts strong and healthy. For various reasons, even people with the best diets can have gaps. So let’s take a look at top vitamins and supplements for heart health.
Folic acid is also called Vitamin B9, and it helps to protect your heart. This vitamin can regulate levels of homocysteine, an amino acid associated with a possible risk for blood clots. It has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack for some who have high blood pressure. Sources of folic acid include circus fruits, beans, and dark green vegetables.
Recommended Daily Intake: 400 micrograms (mcg) per day
Vitamin D is absolutely vital to the health of your heart. It can also increase your energy, help maintain healthy insulin levels, and protect your bones by aiding in calcium absorption. On the other hand, a lack of Vitamin D has been correlated with heart attack and stroke. You can get your daily vitamin D requirements through sun exposure (15 mins at minimum to get your Vitamin D this way while complexion and weather can make this requirement longer). Of course, there are many foods that are naturally rich in Vitamin D such as eggs and tuna while many other foods are fortified with Vitamin D such as cheese, milk, cereals, and fruit juices.
Recommended Daily Intake: 1,000 mg per day
Potassium may be able to lower blood pressure levels and might help to prevent or relieve muscle cramps. Fruits and vegetables are great for everyone, but ones rich in potassium are especially important for those concerned about or at risk for high blood pressure.
Many people think that bananas are the only source of potassium (422 mg per medium-sized banana). However, sweet potatoes have just as much at 448 mg per 133 grams (roughly 1 cup) and avocados have nearly twice as much at 708 mg per 146 grams (roughly 1 cup) with tons of healthy monounsaturated fat to boot. You can also take a supplement to get your required daily intake.
Recommended Daily Intake: 4,700 mg per day
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) can be found in the cells of your body. It helps with cell maintenance and growth. This aids in exercise recovery especially for those who take statins according to the American Journal of Cardiology. CoQ10 also functions as an antioxidant thus protecting against free radical damage. Foods rich in CoQ10 include organ meats, such as kidneys, liver, and heart. Beef, sardines, mackerel, and peanuts can also contain relatively high amounts of CoQ10. However, it’s difficult to significantly raise levels through diet. For example, beef heart, one of the richest sources, contains 109.97 ± 1.54 micrograms per gram according to an analysis by Science Direct.
Recommended Daily Intake: 50 milligrams to 1,200 milligrams per day (there is a wide range due to how different individuals’ needs may be.)
Psyllium fiber is known to reduce cholesterol when you use it in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Along with its heart-healthy benefits, fiber can also regularize your bowel patterns. Most of us don’t have trouble getting our daily recommended intake of fiber from fruits and vegetables. However, some have dietary restrictions that make this difficult and as we age, our appetites decrease also making it difficult to get adequate fiber. In those cases, you can consider supplementation. Supplemental fiber can be found in soluble and insoluble formulas.
Recommended Daily Intake: Women need 25 grams of fiber per day, while men require 38 grams per day
Sterols and stanols are chemicals found in plants with molecules shaped like cholesterol. When absorbed into the bloodstream, they can block the absorption of actual cholesterol providing some protection for our hearts. Like CoQ10, it is difficult to significantly raise levels through food alone and some may find it difficult to get their daily recommended intake. Many foods are increasingly fortified with sterols and stanols such as cooking oils, salad dressings, milk, yogurt, snack bars, and juices. One disadvantage of fortified foods compared to a supplement, given the types of foods, is that you have to be careful of their fat and sugar content.
Recommended Daily Intake: 60 mg per day
Omega-3 fatty acids can help to support a healthy heart by lowering triglycerides and blood pressure and may even prevent some types of inflammation. Since our bodies do not produce these fatty acids naturally, we have to get Omega-3s from our diet. You can find Omega-3 in fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, chia seeds, and canola oil. If you think you are low in Omega-3, you should consult your physician who will run a blood test. Fish oil supplements are an easy and convenient way to get your Omega-3 and may also raise your HDL (good) cholesterol.
Recommended Daily Intake: 3,000–5,000 mg per day
Your body requires magnesium for many of its vital functions such as producing protein, bone and DNA as well as regulating muscle and nerve function, but many people are magnesium-deficient. Low magnesium levels have been linked to plaque buildup, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Magnesium can lower blood pressure, improve insulin resistance, and decrease heart attack risks. Having sufficient levels of magnesium can also help to lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. However, those people with kidney diseases should be cautious when adding more magnesium to their diet. You find magnesium in nuts, dark leafy greens, and whole grains.
Recommended Daily Intake: 310–420 mg per day
Zinc is essential to your body, and it helps with numerous functions. While it is known for wound healing and immune-boosting properties, it can also assist with heart health. In cross-sectional studies, patients with heart failure have often had zinc deficiencies as cited by the National Institute of Health. Foods that are rich in zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, and eggs.
Recommended Daily Intake: 11 mg per day
Now that you know some of the best heart-healthy vitamins and supplements to add to your diet, here are a couple of bonus food items you might want to check out.
Garlic is a delicious aromatic that fits easily into almost any meal. It’s not just tasty though, it can also combat coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. The taste so many of us love isn’t enjoyed by everyone though. For those who don’t like garlic, there are garlic extract supplements that offer a more palatable way to get these health benefits.
Green tea is mainly known for its rich antioxidant content and weight loss benefits but it can also support heart health. Drinking green tea can reduce total cholesterol levels, ease blood pressure, and lower triglycerides, and blood fats.
Vitamins and supplements should be taken with care. Just because they are labeled as “heart-healthy” does not guarantee it will be beneficial to you. The content, method of action, and actual benefits can vary and as a result, they can be harmful if taken in large quantities or have a negative interaction with medications you are taking.
Be sure to check with your doctor to see if taking any vitamins or supplements will be beneficial to your heart health or if you have any medical concerns.
When choosing a heart supplement to take, it is important to discuss it with your doctor before beginning any new supplements to see if they will interfere with your current health conditions and/or medications. They may also be able to give insight on which nutrients you are lacking and what type of supplements would be most beneficial.
It is recommended to avoid supplements with any unwanted ingredients like artificial colors or preservatives. Also, look at the product information to ensure that the supplement is produced in a cGMP facility registered with the FDA.
As with anything else you do for your health, you should take supplements with some consideration. Will a specific vitamin be compatible with your diet. Is a given supplement safe to take with any medications you’re taking?
If you have any concerns, talk to your physician.
There are a variety of vitamins, supplements, and food products that have been shown to be beneficial for heart health. While many of these are available from food sources, age or various health conditions make it difficult to get these nutrients and their heart-healthy benefits naturally. In those cases, supplements are an option to consider for getting your daily recommended intake.
The Best in Nature blog is for informational purposes only and not to be used as medical advice. If you have immediate concerns about your health, please seek the help of a medical professional.