Nutrition Articles

Supplements for a Healthy Heart

Do Supplements Really Help Your Heart?

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So you just found out that you have high cholesterol, or perhaps you have a strong family history of heart disease and want to do your best to prevent it. So you head to the pharmacy or health food store for help, only to be bombarded by countless supplements that tout their heart healthy benefits. Which should you choose? Are they all good for your heart? Are supplements necessary to improve your health and reduce your risk of heart disease?

Before you buy into the billion-dollar business of dietary supplements, remember a few key things.
  1. Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA in the same way as medications are regulated. Manufacturers have a lot of leeway in their ability to make health claims on their bottles—much more than most health professionals would like—and these claims can be very misleading. Some claims are not even true or are not based on good scientific research. Never trust what a bottle or advertisement tells you about a product. After all, the goal of both is to get you to buy it. Do your own investigation first.
     
  2. Dietary supplements are NOT a must for a healthy heart. Many people can reduce their risk of heart disease and improve their heart health by making simple lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and following the heart-health plan provided by their health care provider. Supplements alone cannot and will not undo an unhealthy (poor quality) diet or inactive lifestyle. If you do prefer to take supplements, think of them as an added insurance plan to the heart-healthy changes you're already making.
     
  3. Supplements can interact with other medications. Even something as seemingly benign as a vitamin or mineral supplement can cause adverse reactions when combined with certain over-the-counter and prescription drugs, so ALWAYS keep a list of all supplements you take and share it with your pharmacist and health care provider.
     
  4. Talk to your doctor first. Before taking any supplement, get advice and recommendations from your health care provider.
Here's a list of common supplements (listed in alphabetical order) that make heart health claims. Read on to find out which may help, and which supplements you should leave on the shelf according to evidence-based research.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • I've been loyal to my health supplement and yes, it really helps me boost my health and lifestyle. I guess, we all need it especially we are in the process of creating an improve us, a healthier and happier us! - 7/13/2014 11:15:22 PM
  • There is new scietific evidence that baby aspirins can have a negative effective if you never had a stroke or heart problems before. Affter a stroke baby aspirin can really help! - 5/22/2014 9:17:21 PM
  • TFRANIC88
    I tried a lot of supplements, while trying to overcome heart disease but vitamin D3 and fish oil shown to be among the most effective. Probably because most people don't get enough sun exposure because of their job or they don't consume enough healthy fats, on regular basis.

    Although minerals such as calcium as well as vitamins such as niacin can be useful, from my experience, they are not necessary since these micronutrients can be easily obtained through healthy diet.

    I would also like to point out that few other supplements such as CoQ10 and DIM or 3,3′-Diindo
    lylmethane can help, too. That is, at least they helped me. - 11/16/2013 6:07:04 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 10/23/2013 6:18:00 AM
  • It is said that if you take a statin drug, then a CoQ10 supplement is a MUST. CoQ10 helps to prevent the serious side effects of the statins, some of which can be permanent.

    I had a surprise benefit from a high-EPA Omega-3 supplement. My vision got brighter! And it happened within only a couple of days of starting it.

    My eyes in general have improved over the last couple of years. I can change focus distance more easily now, and I can see better in the dark. (My work requires that I write in dark theaters, so this was very welcome.) Since I take several supplements, it would be difficult to say which one was responsible for these improvements. These changes were very recent, so it may be due to the lypo-C supplements I've been taking for 5 or 6 months now. But, as I said, I can't be sure about that. - 10/21/2013 11:37:33 AM
  • AGATES8
    Of course we need supplements and can trust their claims!!!! - 10/18/2013 9:31:48 PM
  • TWEITZY
    There has never been a single study showing that we can get OPTIMUM nutrient levels from food. NOT ONE!
    Secondly, our food supply is getting more and more depleted of nutrients due to increased use of pesticides and modern farming methods.
    A really good source of information on supplements is Life Extension Foundation (lef.org) - 10/18/2013 4:12:59 PM
  • RON10BAX
    How do we know what is in our suppliment. ? Is there any reliable source to verify? - 10/18/2013 4:58:21 AM
  • This article has all of the hallmark of what is contemporary and alive in the current research and vitamin sales literature. This is helpful for all of us overwhelmed by concern for our health and the maintenance of good health. - 1/4/2013 3:59:14 PM
  • One can tell by reading the comments here that people will believe what they want to believe.
    I do take a vitamin, calcium and a couple others and my doctors are aware of everything I take. I always heard that if we eat a healthy diet, we are headed in the right direction! - 12/9/2012 7:42:18 PM
  • MSHERER1622
    As someone with metabolic syndrome, I'm particularly interested in L-Arginine, Quercetin and Rutin. L-Arginine is an amino acid that stimulates NO uptake, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation. Quercetin and Rutin are antioxidants/flav
    inols that are cardioprotective and reduce inflammation. Lots of articles on them in PubMed, so there's clearly interest from the medical research community. - 12/9/2012 5:02:36 PM
  • STANKORANCH
    Re: new research. Research from Penn State published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year about this time. The study used rigorously designed research--A randomized Controlled Clinical Intervention Trial- to investigate the effects of cholesterol-lower
    ing diets; The Healthy American Diet, The Dash Diet, The Bold Diet and the Bold Plus Diet. The main difference between the Dash Diet and the Bold and Bold Plus diets is the source of protein; Dash uses white meat and plant protein sources while the Bold and Bold Plus diet use lean beef as the main source of protein. Both the Bold Diet and teh Bold Plus Diets allow for slighly more % of protein; Dash 18 %, Bold 19 % and Bold Plus 27%. Bottom line: The Bold and Bold Plus diets were just as effective as the Dash Diet in reducint LDL over a 5 week period. The key is to use one of the 29 lean cuts of beef which range in fat content between a boneless skinless chicken breast and boneless skinless chicken thigh. Just a 3 oz serving of lean beef provides less that 10% of your daily calories while providing more than 10% of 10 essential nutrients. excellent source of protein, zinc, vitamin b 12, vitamin b 6, niacin and selenium and good source of phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin. - 12/9/2012 11:53:35 AM
  • I'm a lap band patient so I definitely have to take supplements, but I keep them to a minimum. I take chewable or liquid multivitamins, fiber, calcium, and small fish oil and vitamin D (those 2 on doctors orders). - 12/9/2012 9:16:01 AM
  • I try to stay up with current nutritional studies (not that I am an expert by any means) and thought that the article was very useful as a starting point for the general audience. That said, we much recognize that each of us is unique, with individual differences and needs. Therefore, for example, although it may be generally advisable for most people to avoid supplementing with selenium, if one has a deficiency, then supplementation might be advisable. I am over 65 years old and am very careful to eat a well balanced diet. However, I have, for the past 5 years, had several vitamin deficiencies and do supplement as needed. My physician checks every 3-6 months and we adjust accordingly. - 12/9/2012 9:08:37 AM
  • INNERPEACE4LIFE
    I am a master herbalist as well as a nurse. What is really sad and frightening is the power given to doctors to prescribe chemicals that are deadly. You would never voice the same questions or opinons to your doctor. - 12/9/2012 7:45:11 AM

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