Many dietary supplements can give your heart a boost

Dec. 8, 2022 — Some antioxidant supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid and coenzyme Q10, may benefit heart health. new study appeared in Journal of the American College of Cardiologistsy.

Researchers looked at the results of nearly 900 studies involving almost 900,000 patients and found that some of these micronutrients reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke or death, while others had no effect and others appeared to be potentially harmful. .

“Our study highlights the importance of micronutrient diversity and the balance of health benefits and risks,” says Simin Liu. MD, lead author of the study and professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University in Providence.

“Determining the optimal mix of micronutrients is important, as not all are beneficial and some may even have adverse effects,” he says.

The research team focused on risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as things like heart attack or stroke.

Overall, the researchers found evidence that several micronutrients have the potential to stimulate the heart, including:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, vegetable oils, nuts (especially walnuts), flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, and leafy greens
  • Omega-6 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds
  • L-arginine, an amino acid that helps the body build protein. It is found in protein-rich foods such as fish, red meat, poultry, soy, whole grains, beans, and dairy products.
  • L-citrulline, non-essential amino acid found in watermelon
  • folic acid, a form of vitamin B9 used in cases of deficiency and to prevent pregnancy complications. As required by federal law, it is added to cold cereals, flour, breads, pasta, baked goods, cakes and biscuits. Foods naturally high in folate include leafy greens, okra, asparagus, certain fruits, beans, yeast, mushrooms, animal liver and kidney, orange juice, and tomato juice.
  • Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin found naturally in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Fatty fish (such as trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and cod liver oils are among the best sources.
  • Magnesium, which keeps blood pressure normal, the bones are strong and the heart rhythm is regular. In addition to dietary supplements, magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, nuts, beans, peas and soybeans, and whole grains.
  • Zinc, found in chicken, red meat and fortified breakfast cereals
  • Alpha-lipoic acid, a natural antioxidant that a it is also found in the body and in food. It is found in red meat, carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli and potatoes.
  • Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines; vegetable oils; and meats
  • Melatonin
  • Plant-based polyphenols such as catechin, curcumin, flavanol, genistein and quercetin
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Many of these micronutrients have been shown to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin levels.

Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have been shown to reduce cardiovascular death by 7%, coronary heart disease by 14%, and heart attack by 15%. Folic acid supplements also reduced the risk of stroke by 16%, and coenzyme Q10 reduced all-cause mortality in heart failure patients by 32%.

In contrast, beta-carotene supplements (naturally found in plants such as carrots and fruits) increased the risk of stroke by 9%, death from any cause by 10%, and cardiovascular disease by 12%. resulting death. And finally, over the long term, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium showed no effect on cardiovascular disease outcomes or type 2 diabetes risk.

Previous studies have shown that antioxidants are beneficial for the heart, possibly because they reduce stress, which contributes to heart disease. Heart-healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), include foods rich in antioxidants. However, studies on individual antioxidant supplements are mixed or inconsistent.

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“Research on micronutrient supplementation has mainly focused on the health effects of a single or a few vitamins and minerals,” says Liu. “We decided to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate all publicly available and accessible studies on micronutrients.”

More studies are needed to find combinations that improve individual diet and heart health, the study authors wrote.