Health Tips > Vitamin Aisle > Supplementing a Healthy Heart

Supplementing a Healthy Heart

View All Section Pages

Supplementing a Healthy Heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States, surpassing death from all forms of cancer, respiratory disease, stroke and accidents. Did you also know that almost 25 percent of the deaths attributed to heart disease are individuals who die of a heart attack (sudden death) without any prior notion they had heart disease?

What can you do to reduce your risk of developing or dying from heart disease? The answer is plenty! First and foremost, you need to know your risks for heart disease. Consult with your physician to identify any risk factors.

Once you have identified your risk factors, begin to take steps to modify those risks. Lifestyle changes that reduce cardiovascular risk include increasing your physical activity (aiming for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week), losing weight (aiming for a BMI less than 25) and improving nutritional intake (avoiding trans fats and empty calories).  

Cooper Clinic Radiologist Nina B. Radford, MD, shares her viewpoint on the role for adding supplements to your daily routine to reduce your risk for developing heart disease.

If you get your blood work tested, it will likely include a blood test that measures levels of a protein called high-sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hsCRP). Made by the liver, C-reactive protein is known as an inflammatory marker and can indicate the presence of inflammation in the body.

Inflammation can come from all kinds of events such as getting a cold, suffering a bad fall, developing cancer or having a heart attack. These changes are known collectively as the acute-phase response, and when the body undergoes any of these types of stressors, C-reactive protein (CRP) rises. Since experts believe hardening of the arteries is an inflammatory process, hsCRP may predict heart disease along with the standard cholesterol screening tests. The hsCRP measure may also indicate whether cholesterol plaque is about to rupture, releasing clots in the blood stream.

A number of conditions and drugs can affect hsCRP levels. For example, it has been demonstrated that aspirin, beta-blockers, niacin and statins can lower hsCRP. In addition, multivitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and vitamin C, also lower C-reactive protein. One of the first research studies conducted on Cooper Complete nutritional supplements looked at the impact of a multivitamin on C-reactive protein. A clinical trial reported in American Journal of Medicine found that Cooper Complete Iron Free* lowered CRP by 32 percent. There have been a number of other studies that have demonstrated an association between vitamin intake and lower levels of CRP.

Intake of certain vitamins has been shown to lower markers of inflammation such hsCRP which have been linked to the development of heart disease. An increased hsCRP is associated with smoking, hypertension, increased body mass index, the metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, reduced exercise frequency and abdominal adiposity (belly fat). So, for most patients with or without established heart disease, taking a daily multivitamin is a good idea.  

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found in every cell in the body. It has a broad range of functions in the human body, but its main function is to serve as a catalyst to convert the food you eat into energy. Ubiquinone is the fully oxidized form of CoQ10 and has been marketed as a supplement for decades. The body converts ubiquinone supplements into ubiquinol, the fully reduced form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol supplements are relatively new in the marketplace as scientists only recently figured out how to stabilize it. Currently, ubiquinol is only found in standalone supplements, but science is on the brink of being able to blend ubiquinol into a multi-ingredient product.

Described as “cardioprotective,” CoQ10 has demonstrated to have a number of cardiovascular benefits including improvement in heart muscle function in patients with heart failure, improved blood vessel function in patients with known heart disease and reduction in inflammatory signaling, and oxidative stress associated with strenuous exercise. CoQ10 levels are lower in patients with heart muscle disorders and decreased heart function. Furthermore, improving CoQ10 in blood levels has been associated with improvements in ejection fraction, a measure of heart function.  So, certain patients with heart disease may benefit from taking CoQ10 supplement.

Research indicates that statins, or cholesterol lowering medications, deplete the level of CoQ10 in the body. There is also some data that suggests taking CoQ10 with a statin medication reduced the risk of developing muscle soreness as a side effect.  For this reason, physicians often suggest that patients taking statin medications also take 100 to 200 mg CoQ10** daily.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that functions as a hormone in the body. It regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and promotes healthy bone formation and mineralization throughout the lifespan. A large body of evidence suggests that the benefits of adequate amounts of vitamin D*** reach beyond bone health.

Many coronary risk factors are adversely affected by vitamin D deficiency including hypertension, pre-diabetes, diabetes mellitus and lipid levels.  The European Heart Journal recently published a study showing in 12,000 deaths, a doubling in Vitamin D concentration was associated with a 20 percent lower rate of vascular death and 23 percent lower rate of non-vascular death. In a recent analysis of older individuals in the prospective cohort from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, vitamin D levels had an independent, inverse association with cardiovascular disease death and death from all causes.

For both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular benefits, Dr. Radford recommends that patients who are vitamin D deficient take vitamin D3. Cooper Clinic has been testing vitamin D level as part of the preventive exam for several years, and generally recommends Vitamin D3 intake of  2,000 international units (IU) per day.

There are thousands of studies showing the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for the heart.  Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been shown to reduce triglycerides by about 25 percent, lower blood pressure by two to four mmHg, lower risk of arrhythmia and reduce the risk of cardiovascular death and sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids can also improve the ratio of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

The key components in omega-3 supplements are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), known as “long chain” omega-3s. EPA and DHA come from the micro-algae that fish eat, especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults should eat a variety of fish, preferably fatty fish, at least twice per week. This intake provides an average daily intake of about 500 mg EPA+DHA. Individuals who have coronary heart disease should consume about one gram (1,000 mg) of EPA and DHA per day. If you experience elevated triglycerides, you may need two to four grams (2,000 – 4,000 mg) of EPA and DHA. For those patients who do not eat fish regularly in their diet, omega-3 supplements**** are a great alternative.

For more information about Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements, click here or call 972.560.2667.

*Cooper Complete adult multivitamin and mineral formulations contain 10 mg vitamin B6. Cooper Complete original formulations contain 500 mg vitamin C, Basic One contains 150 mg, and Elite Athlete contains 2,000 mg. 

**Cooper Complete original formulations and Elite Athlete contain 50 mg CoQ10 ubiquinone. The product line also includes standalone CoQ10 in the ubiquinol form at 50 mg and 100 mg concentrations.

***All Cooper Complete adult multivitamins contain 2,000 IU vitamin D, and there is also a standalone vitamin D that provides 1,000 IU vitamin D per serving.

****Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 contains 1,000 mg EPA and 200 mg DHA per two softgel serving.

Article provided by Jill Turner, Vice President of Operations, Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements.