- Alternative & Natural Medicine
What Supplements Are Good For My Heart?
Can you take better care of your heart? Yes
You can afford to take care of your heart, and do it now!
As a health store owner, I am often asked the question "What's good for my heart?"
Science has discovered that a healthy heart (or even one in trouble) can benefit from a dozen or so nutrients you can find in any good health store, or real supermarket in America. The purpose of this article is to identify those nutrients, list what they do, and tell you some natural sources for them.
Let's start with some of the key vitamins our hearts depend on:
Folic Acid if the heart's levels of folic acid are low it can lead to heart disease and experts have assessed that risk as more serious than the risks posed by high cholesterol levels; that the body's low levels of folic acid can also lead to colon cancer, should convince all of us to insure that we are providing the body and the heart folates from such natural sources as orange or grapefruit juice, beans, peas, and green leafy vegetable. Folic Acid supplements are available. Epileptics walk a balancing act with folic acid and should not exceed a total of 400 mcg per day.
B6 our bodies' levels of a substance called homocysteine are a factor in heart disease, and adequate levels of B6 can help to keep those levels in check, B3 performs somewhat the same function and many health savvy Americans like to take a B Complex supplement to insure they are getting enough. Nuts, whole grains, and bananas are good sources of B6. B6 also helps avoid serious carpal tunnel problems.
B12 This vitamin is essential for healthy red blood cells. Some natural sources are dairy, eggs, fish and seafood.
C This vitamin not only helps to fight off colds and other diseases, but in terms of the heart it limits the oxidation of our body's "bad" LDL cholesterol and promotes the flexibility of our veins and arteries. Some sources, other than the well known citrus sources are potatoes (the only vegetable you can cook and not destroy its Vitamin C), cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and yes, spinach.
E Vitamin E actually gets a boost from vitamin C and plays a role in our bodies use of oxygen, as well as reducing possible blockages in our arteries, and excess inflammation as well as clots. Good sources of this vitamin are brown rice, dairy, eggs, liver, oatmeal, corn meal, dark green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils which were not heat processed, and other whole grains, fruits, and nuts.
While as you see many of those vitamins are available in foods, fruits, and nuts, there are some specific foods which we do well to include in our regular diets. These nutrients include
Garlic Along with onions, garlic is the most frequently mentioned "natural remedy" for a host of conditions. Garlic does so in part by making the ratio of HDL and LDL more favorable, and as a natural blood thinner, improving circulation and our bodies' immune responses. Don't get repelled by the fragrance, or you will miss out on the wide variety of benefits.
Green Tea Along with black tea appears to help protect against cancers, lowers blood pressure, reduces the blood's clotting tendencies, and serves to support the immune system and act as an antioxidant. Studies have shown that its consumption is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and to improved odds of recovery from a heart attack. It does have some caffeine and its consumption should be limited in some circumstances.
Grapes Grape seeds contain a substance known as resveratrol which may help to maintain flexibility in damaged heart muscle. It also helps to limit the oxidation of the "bad" LDL cholesterol. Resveratrol is also available as a supplement, and is present in varying amounts in most wines.
Soy Protein Is a good source of low fat protein and is typically included as tofu or in its meat substitute forms as textured vegetable protein along with foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol to reduce the dietary risks of heart disease.
While the mentioned green tea is of course an herb, there is another herb which is most easily found in a health store or a really complete supermarket's supplements section which is not only great for the heart, but is said to help our memory:
Hawthorn Dilates the hearts blood vessels thereby lowering blood pressure while improving the heart's use of oxygen. Hawthorn is also said to help restore heart muscle, lower cholesterol levels, and aid in the body's use of vitamin C.
Four other nutrients deserve special prominence for their acknowledged therapeutic benefits:
Magnesium Magnesium not only is needed in conjunction with Calcium, vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercise for strong bones, it helps sustain the heart's regular rhythm and is important to the heart's energy levels. Magnesium levels which drop too low contribute to elevated blood pressure as the heart tries to cope with the deficiency. Magnesium is widely available in such foods as those we have already mentioned including soy, seafood, almonds, and peanuts.
Guggul This substance is derived from the myrrh tree and has been used widely to better balance LDL and HDL cholesterol, while some maintain that it has value as a blood cleaner.
CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10) Is such a commonly found substance that its other name is ubiquinone for being almost ubiquitous in nature. The heart muscle uses it to create energy thus strengthening the heart muscle and it is especially useful for persons who have already experienced some degree of heart failure. Its levels in the body decrease with age, meaning that it should be included in the diet from such sources as fish (especially salmon, sardines, and mackerel,) while other good sources are vegetable oils, nuts, eggs, wheat germ, beef, broccoli, and spinach. If supplemented from a CoQ10 product it should be fresh, avoid high temperatures, and preferably be in an oil form with some vitamin E to preserve its quality.
Omega 3 While flax seeds and hemp have some great ingredients, too. for the heart, attention recently has focused on EPA and DHA which we can get from fish oils (the same salmon, sardines, and mackerel, etc. mentioned before.) Omega 3s are also found in canola oil and walnut oil. Omega 3s provide essential fatty acids which among other benefits help to regulate heart rhythms. They also aid in cases of hypertension. Further possible benefits are also under study.
In terms of health care for our heart, a regular checkup by a health professional and even some testing can give us a clear picture of the health of our hearts. And there are the recognized benefits of permissible exercises such as walking, hiking, biking, swimming, and aerobic exercise your health professional can suggest, as well avoiding cigarette smoke, overweight, and excessive alcohol.
Our health care professionals will check our blood pressure and blood oxygen level, listen to our heart rhythm, and listen for any heart murmur or other irregularity. It may be recommended that we obtain an echo cardiogram which is a routine test which shows how the heart and heart valves are functioning. In some cases an angiogram is recommended to actually look inside the heart and arteries by entering through a vein with a special device which allows a trained cardiologist to determine whether the valves and arteries need any repair.
If such repairs are needed, bypass surgery, valve replacements, stints, pacemakers, and other medical interventions may be suggested to get our hearts back in better working order, along with sometimes strict diets to limit salt, animal fats, and other factors which might otherwise contribute to future heart problems.
The old saying is as true today as it has been for centuries:
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
NOTE: Don't forget your Essential Amino Acids either. Click on the link below to read why they are called "essential" and what they do for your helath.
Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
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Amino Acids are essential to our good health, too.
- Essential Amino Acids - What Difference Do They Make?
A little knowledge can go a long way in teaching us why we are what we eat. That is especially true of the Essential Amino Acids discussed in this article.