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Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients – Keys to Heart Health

Vitamin E, Niacin and Omega-3 fatty acids are among the more commonly known vitamins and nutrients that improve cardiac health. However, there are other vitamins and minerals, plus basic elements and nutrients that you should know about for improving the overall condition of your heart. Always make sure to talk with your doctor before beginning a dedicated program of supplements, minerals or other nutrients.

Potassium

For example, the medical journals JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine) have published studies indicating that the primary cause of human heart disease is a deficiency of the basic element potassium within the heart muscles. The human body has a particular irony in its treatment of potassium: because many vegetables have much more potassium than sodium (another basic element), the kidneys eliminate more potassium than sodium. But if you add to a healthy diet of vegetables, a strenuous workout regimen that causes much sweating, then you can have a significant potassium loss, which can be a contributor to heart damage.

Still, the best potassium source is your food: bananas, meat, fish, potatoes, prunes, oranges and broccoli are foods that contain high levels of potassium. The main benefits of potassium are that it can help reduce blood pressure, it reduces the likelihood of stroke and heart failure, and it helps your body eliminate wastes through sweating.

Magnesium

Magnesium (another basic element) goes hand in hand with potassium when it comes to maintaining a regular heartbeat. It also is involved in at least 324 other reactions within the body, so it's safe to say it too is a vital contributor to good health. You can find it in whole grains, root-based vegetables, soy, nuts and greens.

Selenium

Selenium (also a basic element) is not only valuable for heart health, in that it prevents heart disease, strengthens heart muscle, and helps control blood pressure, but it also helps fight cancer. You can get selenium from fish, Brazil nuts, and some whole grains, but supplements are a safer bet for having a proper supply. There are intriguing theories about higher doses of selenium reducing the death rates related to cancer, as well as AIDS.

Copper

Copper, according to several studies, is the only basic element that can lead to increased LDL (the "bad") cholesterol if you have a deficiency of the element. In addition to helping your heart stay healthy, copper also helps your body against the risk of arterial ruptures that lead to stroke and aneurysm, and against the risk of poor blood clotting. You can find copper in special bracelets, and you can also find it naturally in grains and nuts.

CoenzymeQ10

CoQ10, also known as CoenzymeQ10, or ubiquinone, is a vital nutrient when it comes to managing blood pressure and heart health. If you are taking statins for your heart, CoQ10 is a necessity. As you age, your body's production of CoQ10 will dwindle. While this may be a costly supplement, you can double the efficiency of each tablet by eating it with food containing oils.

Daily Supplement

Calcium mixed with Vitamin D can be a vital part of your heart health program. A daily supplement combining both the element calcium with Vitamin D will help you avoid bone fracture and bone density loss – the calcium should come from boiled eggshell, dolomite, oyster shell, soy, and leafy green vegetables. The connection between the calcium in milk with these positive effects is still unproven. Vitamin D is absorbed from sunlight, but also is available from fish liver oil (principally codfish) and other fish with high levels of unsaturated natural fats.

Niacin (Vitamin B3) has been shown through several studies not only to be the most effective reducer of LDL ("bad") cholesterol but also the most cost-effective. Niacin can even cut down on plaque (hardened LDL cholesterol) in your blood vessels. Many doctors advise taking it as part of a multivitamin regimen instead of taking it in an over-the-counter (OTC) form like nicotinic acid. The reason is that when taken alone in OTC forms, in the levels necessary to be effective (1- 2 grams per day), it can have discomforting side effects. These side effects include hot flashes, itching of the skin and significant flushing of the skin, making you look like a walking pink erasure. However, there are doctor-prescribed niacin pharmaceuticals that are formulated with slow-release ingredients that minimize these side effects. Eventually the body can build up a tolerance for higher doses of niacin to no longer produce the side effects, but it can take months for this tolerance to accumulate.

Vitamin E is effective when taken as part of a fatty meal or in oil-containing foods. It keeps your blood from clotting or sticking in inconvenient places and causing damage to blood vessels. Three significant studies confirmed a reduction of heart disease risk of up to 40% in patients who took Vitamin E supplements. There is less research, however, showing that Vitamin E can help in the cure of an existing case of heart disease. Your doctor is more likely to suggest this as a preventive measure.

Fatty Acids

Omega-3 and Omega-6 (linolenic and linoleic acids) are the only two forms of fatty acids that the human body cannot make. Ironically, they are very important, not just for your heart, but also for your overall physical and emotional conditions. The fatty fish oil in such oil-rich species as salmon, that contains Omega-3, reduces triglycerides. Omega-6 is not as important – in fact, there are studies indicating that Omega-6 is the most commonly overdosed nutrient, which actually can lead to a risk of cancer.

These vitamins, minerals, basic elements and nutrients, if taken in consultation with your physician, can help you maintain a healthy heart, and even undo the damage that can come with an unhealthy lifestyle. Be sure, though, to get your doctor's approval before beginning any supplement regimen.

Copyright © 2010 by Jack Osborne - All Rights Reserved

 


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