Dr Sinatra’s Top Ten Nutritional Supplements for Women’s Heart Health


A couple of years ago, I read an interview by Mary Shoman (thyroid-info.com) with Dr. Stephen Sinatra. Mary is my “thyroid guru”, and Dr. Sinatra (drsinatra.com) is a cardiologist. He describes himself as an “integrative cardiologist” who uses both conventional medicine and alternative medicine. He sought out a different approach when he realized he treated patients repeatedly for the same problems. He averted crises, but did not really know how to make his patients healthy. After realizing most of his cardiac patients were “Type A personalities”, he took courses in “bioenergetic analysis” to examine the mind-body connection. He also sought to learn more about nutrition, particularly what vitamins, minerals and other supplements influenced cardiovascular health. Dr. Sinatra now describes his practice and methods as “preventive cardiology” or “metabolic cardiology”.

Dr. Sinatra Speaks on Health & Nutrition

 

Mary’s interview article lists Dr. Sinatra’s recommendations for his Top Ten Nutritional Supplements for Women, from his book, Heart Sense for Women.  Here are his picks: 

1- Coenzyme Q10

2- L-carnitine

3- B Vitamins (folic acid, B12, B6)

4- Carotenoids (lutein)

5- Magnesium/Calcium

6- Vitamin E

7- Vitamin C

8- OPCs (grapeseed, pycnogenol)

9- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

10- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)

 


In Mary’s interview of Dr. Sinatra, they discuss aspects of thyroid disease. Even subclinical hypothyroidism, with normal to slightly elevated TSH levels, increases the risk of heart disease. You can read more about this at another one of my favorite websites, MyThyroid.com, which is an evidence-based site by Dr. Daniel Drucker, a Canadian physician.

Mary and Dr. Sinatra also discuss CoQ 10, soy, cholesterol, and mitral valve prolapse. They discuss the controversy of T3 supplementation (most thyroid patients take Synthroid, which is synthetic T4). They also discuss conjugated linoleic acid, L-carnitine and CoQ 10 for weight loss.

 

Except CoQ 10 and L-carnitine, Dr. Sinatra does not specifically discuss the supplements in his Top Ten list in this particular article.  These recommendations are thoroughly covered in his book, Heart Sense for Women.  I do not have this book, so I gathered basic information on each supplement from a variety of sources.  These are brief overviews, and not intended to be comprehensive.  I especially tried to find information that would be specific to heart health.  If you want more information, you can start by following the link that I have provided for each of the supplements. 

Dr. Sinatra on Causes of Heart Disease

1- Coenzyme Q10


Coenzyme Q-10 is also called Ubiquinol-10. It is a powerful antioxidant. It is “food” for your cells, necessary for optimum health. CoQ 10 is produced by all of the cells of the body, and is stored in the liver, heart, and kidneys. It is believed that some of the B vitamins, and Vitamin C facilitate the conversion of tyrosine to CoQ 10.

CoQ 10 is essential for the metabolism of fat, and the production of energy. It deters the accumulation of fatty acids in the heart tissues by improving fatty acid conversion to energy.

Statin drugs, given for high cholesterol, deplete the body’s CoQ 10.

Studies have shown that most patients with heart problems have a deficiency of CoQ 10. CoQ 10 is found in very small amounts in foods, such as seafood. Supplementation has been found to be helpful in the treatment of patients with congestive heart failure, angina, mitral valve prolapsed, and cardiomyopathy.

Co Q10 and Carnitine

2- L-carnitine


According to Healthline, “Carnitine is an amino acid that is essential for babies and nonessential for others.” “Essential” for these purposes means it must be taken in through the diet. “Nonessential” amino acids can be produced in the body. The kidneys can make carnitine from amino acids lysine and methionine, as well as iron, B vitamins and Vitamin C. Deficient consumption of these nutrients in the diet may result in carnitine deficiency. Lysine and methionine are often deficient in strict vegan diets.

Guess what the most carnitine-rich organ in the body is? The heart! Carnitine seems to help the heart function better, related to the high energy requirement of the heart muscle. Some heart and circulatory problems seem to benefit from a higher level of carnitine than what is provided by most peoples’ diets.

Conditions thought to benefit from supplemental carnitine: stress, severe burns, angina, atherosclerosis, survival after heart attack, high cholesterol, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Tuna is a source of Vitamin B
Tuna is a source of Vitamin B

3- B Vitamins (folic acid, B12, B6)

The B vitamins are: thiamine or B1, riboflavin or B2, niacin or B3, pyridoxine or B6, folic acid or B9, cyanocobalamin or B12, pantothenic acid, and biotin. B vitamins are water soluble, meaning they are excreted in the urine, and can be depleted quickly. B vitamins are also essential vitamins, because they are necessary for cell health and reproduction, but must be taken in through the diet because the body cannot synthesize them in sufficient quantities.

B vitamins act as coenzymes, to promote the transfer of energy of food to the body. The various B vitamins have many essential functions, and support many body functions. Studies have shown that B vitamins, especially B6, folate, and B12, are important in lowering homocystein levels, thereby lowering the risk of heart attack.

Food sources include meat, liver, tuna, turkey, potatoes, bananas, lentils, tempeh, and nutritional yeast.


Carrots, a source of beta carotene
Carrots, a source of beta carotene
Broccoli, a source of beta carotene and lutein
Broccoli, a source of beta carotene and lutein
Spinach, a source of beta carotene and lutein
Spinach, a source of beta carotene and lutein

4- Carotenoids (lutein)


Carotenoids are pigments found in some plants, and provide the bright colors of many vegetables. There are over 600 natural carotenoids, all from plants. They serve as antioxidents, and can be a Vitamin A source. Carotenoids can be sub-classified as carotenes or xanthophylls. Carotenes would include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Xanthophylls include capsorubin, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, astaxanthin, and lutein.

Carotenoids are antioxidants, minimizing cell damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules, known as free radicals. Studies are pointing to the likelihood that some carotenoids protect us from some cancers, macular degeneration of the eyes, and cardiovascular problems. Carotenoids inhibit harmful LDL cholesterol formation, thereby helping to prevent heart disease and heart attack.

Dietary sources of beta-carotene include carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, winter squash, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli. Lycopene can be found in raw unprocessed tomatoes. Sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include egg yolks, corn, kale, spinach, collards, lettuce, green peas, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, kiwi, and honeydew.

5- Magnesium/Calcium


Calcium and magnesium are minerals that may combat many age-associated diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney failure, and especially osteoporosis.

Vitamin D and magnesium help the body more efficiently adsorb calcium. Common recommendations are about twice the calcium to magnesium ratio, which is the ratio in coral calcium. Naturopaths and nutritionists however often recommend everything from a 1:1 ratio, to a 4:1 ratio. I have recently seen recommendations for 2 to 3 times more magnesium than calcium.

Calcium and magnesium are abundant in food sources, but many people have difficulty getting enough from their diets. This is notably true for the elderly, alcoholics, and people with thyroid disease.

Leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds are good sources of both calcium and magnesium. Other sources of magnesium include spices, cereals, cocoa, coffee, and tea. Sources of calcium include milk, cheeses, sea vegetables, quinoa, and amaranth.

Nuts, a source of Vitamin E
Nuts, a source of Vitamin E

6- Vitamin E


Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, protecting the body from cell and tissue damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is fat soluble, and can be stored in the fatty tissues of the body from days to months. Taking too much can be harmful as it can be stored in your liver.

Vitamin E helps keep the circulatory system healthy, aids in blood clotting, and facilitates wound healing. Studies have shown Vitamin E may decrease premenstrual symptoms, as well as some breast diseases. Studies have indicated that Vitamin E may decrease coronary artery disease risks. Animal studies suggest Vitamin E may slow atherosclerosis.

Food sources of Vitamin E include whole grain products, wheat germ, egg yolks, vegetable oil, nuts, peanut butter, avocado, and liver.

Oranges, a source of Vitamin C
Oranges, a source of Vitamin C

7- Vitamin C


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant, and protects against free radicals, toxic chemicals, and pollutants. It is water soluble, with excess Vitamin C excreted in the urine.

Vitamin C is necessary for development, growth and repair of tissues. It is involved in many body functions, such as formation of collagen, maintenance of bones, cartilage, and teeth, absorption of iron, immune system function, and wound healing.

In a recent study, researchers at the University of Michigan looked at over 100 studies of Vitamin C over a 10 year period. Mark Moyad, MD, MPH noted “The more we study vitamin C, the better our understanding of how diverse it is in protecting health, from cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, eye health [and] immunity to living longer.” Most of the examined studies were of the use of 500 mg daily to achieve positive results. The current RDA is 74-90 mg per day for adults.

Studies also suggest the benefits of Vitamin C for stress, colds, skin aging, and reduced inflammation.

A rep for the American Dietetic Association urges eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible before taking supplements. The ADA recommends 9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. This is a sample of what you would need to eat to equal 500 mg of Vitamin C: 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup cooked broccoli, ½ cup red cabbage, ½ cup red pepper, ½ cup green pepper, 1 medium kiwi, and 1 cup tomato juice.

8- OPCs (grapeseed, pycnogenol)


Oligomeric proanthocyanidins, or OPCs, also called pycnogenols, are chemically known as flavonoids or polyphenols. The primary commercial source is grape seeds. Proanthocyanidins exhibit antioxidant properties, and are thought to be more potent in neutralizing free radicals than Vitamins C and E.

OPCs protect us from internal and environmental stresses, including cigarette smoke and pollution, and support metabolic processes. Proanthocyanidin strengthens capillaries, which prevents leakage, and reduces swelling.

Antioxidant properties of grape seed extract may short circuit mutations that could cause tumors, thereby preventing the development and progression of many cancers. Grape seed extract may also help high blood pressure, high cholesterol, venous insufficiency, peripheral vascular disease, varicose veins, psoriasis, eczema, fibromyalgia, asthma, emphysema, allergies and sinusitis. Grape seed extract is also thought to reduce cholesterol that clogs arteries, reducing the risks of stroke and heart attacks.

9- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)


Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a “universal antioxidant”, that can reach tissues composed primarily of fat, like the nervous system, as well as tissues with more water content, like the heart.

ALA is said to energize metabolism, combat free radicals, slow aging, protect against heart disease, combat chronic fatigue, prevent cancer, lessen numbness and tingling, improve skin elasticity, prevent diabetes complications, protect the liver in cases of hepatitis and other liver diseases.

Food sources of ALA include spinach, brewer’s yeast, and liver. Many experts recommend supplements to get concentrated doses for the treatment of specific problems.

10- NAC (N-acetylcysteine)


N-acetylcysteine, or NAC, an amino acid, is a stable, bioavailable form of cysteine. Although on the whole, Americans eat plenty of protein, some experts feel amino acid supplements are beneficial.

NAC is thought to break up mucus in the lungs, increase antioxidant levels in the body, help memory, help prevent heart disease, prevent liver damage from acetaminophen, improve blood flow in smokers, remove mercury, prevent damage from LDL cholesterol, enhance immune function, slow aging, and help prevent cancer.

Talk to Your Health Care Provider


If you are interested in trying Dr. Sinatra’s recommendations, I suggest you buy the book and do your homework, then discuss and map your course with your health care provider. Many of the recommended doses for these supplements may be quite different than the government’s daily recommended requirements. This is not the kind of thing you should do without being in partnership with your doctor. But do your homework first. Make notes. Highlight your key points and concerns. It’s a lot of legwork, but who should be more interested and motivated when it comes to your health than you?

Dr. Sinatra on Nutrition

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6 comments

JenDobson27 profile image

JenDobson27 6 years ago

Thanks for sharing! I've actually never heard of a couple of those supplements.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

This hub is put together very nicely and has a lot of important information which I have been reading about. You organized it very well. Good hub.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Terrific hub, well-researched and thorough.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

THanks for reading and commenting Jen and Paradise.

Pamela, your comment means a lot. Organization does not come naturally to me.


zaib.shoaib profile image

zaib.shoaib 6 years ago

good


MyLovely1 profile image

MyLovely1 5 years ago

agreeing with your good choices here ...thanks for posting this.

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