Taking dietary supplements has become a popular way to improve overall health and prevent chronic diseases.
However, supplements are not always helpful, especially if you are trying to improve your heart health. Some supplements may even be harmful and increase your risk of disease.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology evaluated the impact of various micronutrient supplements on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and clinical events (heart attacks, strokes, and mortality).
The study reviewed and analyzed 884 randomized controlled intervention trials, involving a total of nearly 900,000 participants and 27 types of micronutrients. The study found that supplementation with some micronutrients may benefit cardiometabolic health, while others may increase the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality.
Best Supplements for Heart Health
Here are some of the best supplements for heart health, according to this recent study’s analysis:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids showed moderate- to high-quality evidence for reducing CVD risk factors, such as CVD mortality, myocardial infarction, and coronary heart disease events. N-3 fatty acids are essential fats found in fish oil and certain plant-based sources.
- L-arginine and L-citrulline: These amino acids have been shown to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. These amino acids are found in protein-rich foods like meat, dairy, and beans.
- Folic acid: This supplement has been shown to decrease stroke risk. It can be found in supplement form or in foods like leafy greens, beans, and fortified cereals.
- Vitamin D: Supplements rich in vitamin D showed moderate- to high-quality evidence for reducing CVD risk factors. They are found in supplement form and in foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified foods.
- Magnesium and Zinc: These minerals showed moderate- to high-quality evidence for reducing CVD risk factors. They can be taken as a supplement or found naturally in foods like leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains.
- Coenzyme Q10: This supplement has been shown to decrease all-cause mortality events. It can be found in supplement form or in foods like fatty fish, organ meats, and whole grains.
- Melatonin: This supplement has been shown to reduce CVD risk factors. In addition to supplements, it can also be found naturally in foods like walnuts and tart cherries.
- Catechin, curcumin, flavanol, genistein, and quercetin: These antioxidants showed moderate- to high-quality evidence for reducing CVD risk factors. They come from foods like green tea, turmeric, cocoa, soy, and apples.
Worst Supplements for Heart Health
According to the same study, some supplements may be ineffective or even increase the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality.
Here are some supplements to be cautious about:
- Beta-Carotene: This supplement showed an increased risk of all-cause mortality, CVD mortality events, and stroke risk. Beta-carotene is found in many multivitamin supplements and is abundant in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
- Vitamin C: This supplement did not show any significant impact on CVD or type 2 diabetes risk. While vitamin C is an essential micronutrient, it is better obtained through a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
- Vitamin D: Although vitamin D is essential for bone health and immune function, it did not show any significant impact on CVD risk or events in the study. However, some studies suggest that vitamin D could have a protective effect on heart health, so it may be worth discussing with your healthcare provider.
- Vitamin E: Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E did not show any significant impact on CVD risk or events. In fact, high doses of vitamin E may increase the risk of heart failure, especially in people with diabetes.
- Selenium: Selenium did not show any significant impact on CVD or type 2 diabetes risk. It is another essential micronutrient that is better obtained through a healthy diet that includes nuts, seeds, and seafood.
Before adding any supplements to your daily routine, it is always best to talk to your doctor first. Some herbal supplements, such as St. John’s wort, may interfere with prescribed heart medications and result in dangerous complications.