I am often asked what vitamins are most effective when it comes to promoting and supporting optimal heart health. Unfortunately, most people believe that all vitamins are helpful in their own way, but there are certain vitamins that can actually cause more harm than good. Keep in mind, as you read this article that every individual is different. Aunt Tilly may rave about what glucosamine supplements have done for her arthritis, so you naturally think that if it worked for that old heifer it is sure to work for you! But you fail to consider the laundry list of prescription medication and herbal supplements you currently take that could potentially contraindicate with the glucosamine. So, what is good for one is not always good for another, and in all cases, check with your doctor before you begin taking supplements of any kind, and be sure to inform them of any and all medication you are currently taking. In this article, we will focus on both sides of the issue: Those supplements that are proven to help support heart health and those that do not /cannot.
The Vowels: Vitamins A and E
Vitamins that contain antioxidant properties may sound helpful when it comes to preventing heart disease; however, according to the Journal of American Medical Association, a review of random trial studies involving more than 200,000 men and women revealed that Vitamins A and E actually increased the risk of premature death. Additionally, it was learned in a placebo study that not only was there no benefit to be gained by taking 400 i.u. of Vitamin E every other day, but those taking the supplement had a significantly higher risk of stroke at some future point in time.
Remember all the times your Mom nagged you to drink your milk? She knew the benefits of calcium when it comes to the development of strong bones and teeth. However, calcium supplements can actually increase a person’s risk of developing a myriad of cardiovascular-related health issues such as stroke and heart attack. In fact, it has been revealed that popping calcium supplements, with or without the often recommended accompanying Vitamin D, is known to actually double a person’s risk of heart attack. In a research-tracking study of more than 20,000 people, it was learned that in a period of 11 years, only those who took the calcium supplements were found to be more than 80% likelier to have a heart attack. However, doctors also recommend that people, especially post-menopausal women, should get at least 1,300 mg of calcium each day. The best sources of naturally occurring calcium can be found in dairy products, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables, and canned sardines.
Vitamin D can provide many benefits to support heart health such as the reduction of inflammation; however, too much of a good thing can also result in devastation in the form of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. A simple blood test is the best way to determine whether or not you have too much of the vitamin in your body. In fact, it has been learned that not only is the risk of cardiovascular disease more prominent when Vitamin D levels are too high, but the threat also exists for those who are Vitamin D deficient. Although Vitamin D is found in only a few foods such as milk, orange juice, egg yolks, cheese and cereal, our bodies are able to produce the vitamin when we are out in the sunshine. Again, keep in mind that while short increments of sun exposure are known to be healthy, too much sun can cause extensive damage.
The Federal Drug Administration has given its stamp of approval on Omega-3 fatty acids in lowering the threat of heart disease, especially in those considered to be high risk. If you are not a fan of these supplements, you can obtain the same cardiovascular protection by eating such fish as salmon and herring, several times a week.
Niacin is a powerful multipurpose supplement that is effective not only improving levels of good and bad cholesterol, but it also works to reduce inflammation in the arteries. However, niacin is known to cause facial flushing which is temporary, but can be uncomfortable. Check with your doctor about how you can achieve therapeutic levels of niacin without experiencing any flushing.
As previously mentioned, supplements should not be taken without first discussing the risks, benefits, and potential contraindications with your healthcare provider.