– Keeping the heart – and the entire circulatory system – healthy and strong requires following a balanced diet and exercising regularly, but many types of supplements can help to provide additional benefits. A range of different vitamins, botanical extracts, oils and other compounds can work with the circulatory system to help achieve better strength and balance.
High cholesterol levels are a large contributor to heart disease. Although diet and exercise are essential to maintaining healthy levels of triglycerides, many studies have shown that there are several supplements which can help keep their levels lower in the blood. Omega-3 fatty acids, derived from fish and krill oil or from flaxseed oil, have been shown to be beneficial in lowering and maintaining triglycerides. The specific forms of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are considered important. Additional studies have shown that taking it with magnesium is thought to help decrease blood pressure and heart rhythm problems. read more about heart health » | find answers to your vitamins questions »
There are other supplements which have shown promise for lowering triglyceride levels, including niacin. Also called vitamin B3, niacin has been the subject of many studies and has shown good indications of effectiveness. Not only is it considered to help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, but helps increase HDL (good cholesterol) as well. Naturally occurring red yeast rice, another heart health supplement, contains monacolin K, which is similar to the active ingredient lovastatin, a popular cholesterol-lowering medication.
Plant sterols are also considered to be beneficial for heart health. Classes of phytosterol, plant sterols are a botanically derived form of cholesterol which can help reduce triglyceride levels by competing with the absorption of cholesterol in the digestive system. For more than 60 years, studies have shown the benefits of plant sterols, and their usefulness is acknowledged by the European Foods Safety Authority, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.
The importance of soluble fiber as part of a healthy diet has long been accepted, but it is sometimes included in heart health supplements in the form of psyllium husk powder. Derived from flowering shrubs in the Plantago genus, psyllium readily absorbs water and has a high mucilage content. This helps to push food through the lower intestine without being absorbed into the body, providing both an effective laxative and a means of lowering weight. Since obesity is seen as a contributing factor to heart disease, psyllium supplements can be viewed as having a benefit for heart health. It should be noted, however, that the use of psyllium may cause difficulties for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, forms of colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Heart health supplements can also contain other ingredients, such as forms of antioxidants (including green tea extract, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E), B-complex vitamins (B6, B12 and folic acid), policusanol, alpha lipoic acid and nattokinase, among others. Before embarking on the use of any supplements, it is important to consult a physician; even beneficial ingredients may cause complications when interacting with other medications or health conditions.
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