Lesser-Known Life-Saving Nutrients for Your Heart

hh-11.jpgThere are many commonly overlooked nutrients that can can act as lifesavers when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart.

There are several commonly overlooked nutrients that impact how well our hearts function, how strong they remain and how readily we can recover our heart health if a heart attack does occur. (There are a few abbreviations, but stick with it — they could save your life.)

These life-savers are beta-carotene, DHEA, EPA/DHA, EGCG (from green tea), Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine and magnesium. Why are they important? What does each do?

  • Co Q10 is one of the powerful antioxidants that has a central role in the energy metabolism of every cell. The primary route of cellular energy production is called ‘oxidative phosphorylation.’ Co Q10 is the director of electron transport, making that happen. People with heart disease, high blood pressure and even Parkinson’s disease tend to be deficient in Co Q10.
  • L-carnitine is also deficient in folks with heart disease or peripheral vascular disease. This deficiency prevents normal metabolism of fats for an energy supply, particularly in heart cells, which need lots of energy.
  • Magnesium is important for muscular contractions, and maintains vascular tone. Even a slight disruption of magnesium will affect the heart and blood vessels.
  • Beta-carotene turned up as a valuable heart-health nutrient when Harvard researchers studied 73,000 nurses for 12 years and concluded (among other things) that those who had higher consumption of beta-carotene showed a reduction in coronary artery disease (CAD). People with the most beta-carotene have a 26% lower chance of having CAD or a heart attack.
  • Fish oils are well known to reduce death rates from all manner of heart disease. Salmon, mackerel and trout are all high in omega-3 fish oils, which reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and decrease arrhythmias. Those who already have heart disease should supplement with 2-6 grams of (combined) EPA/DHA each day.
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone — now you see why we abbreviate!) protects us against aging and cardiovascular disease, but our body concentrations of DHEA decrease over time. Men who took DHEA for just 4 weeks had lower blood sugar levels and stronger epithelial function (the lining of the arteries), reducing coronary risks.
  • Green tea (camellia sinensis) seems to protect against heart cell death after a heart attack and protects brain cells after a stroke. Researchers in Britain (Where else? It’s tea!) found a substance in green tea (EGCG) that stops the irreversible damage from oxygen deprivation after a stroke or myocardial-infarction. Rich in antioxidants, this herbal tea could preserve your heart health and functionality if a vascular disaster strikes.

Is it worth memorizing all these acronyms? Maybe not, but it’s worth taking supplements that protect your heart health and keep you alive and well longer.

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