Can you help prevent heart problems with supplements? Experts agree that supplements can improve your cardiovascular health. Here are the best heart health supplements to look for in 2019.
Do You Need Supplements?
If you wait to protect your heart until you have a health issue, your window for prevention of disease closes. It is much easier to prevent heart disease than to reverse the process once it develops.
Experts know that the development of heart disease starts when you are young. Can you help prevent heart problems with supplements? Absolutely.
Some might argue, “I can get enough nutrition from my food.” The better argument might be, ARE you getting enough? If you think much about the answer to the question, you probably aren’t.
You certainly should try to get nutrients in your foods, primarily.
For best heart health, however, your diet is not enough. Starting on a routine of great preventive supplements may go a long way to keep your arteries healthy AND keep you young at heart.
High-quality supplements can help you feel better and provide heart protection.
Keep in mind, the root cause of heart disease is inflammation, which drives an increase in arterial plaque. Lack of nutrients and antioxidants can drive up inflammation in the body and cause the blood vessels to function poorly.
Here is a list of nutrients you should include:
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin K2
- Coenzyme Q10
- Omega 3
You absolutely must become a label reader because some forms and brands will not be the best or may contain unknown substances that aren’t good for your health.
In this blog, I will help break down what you should look for in these supplements, brands, and doses.
Vitamin D3 Supplements
Four really important functions of vitamin D3 for heart health have been proven. Here is a synopsis of those functions:
1. Vitamin D3 plays a central role in making the hormone called calcitriol, which helps prevent calcification of arteries in proper doses.
2. Vitamin D3 reduces inflammation in the body and helps restore the function of the arteries in the body.
3. Vitamin D3 supplements also help restore function of the arterial wall called the endothelium.
4. At least 18 studies, as reviewed by The Vitamin D Council, have shown that vitamin D3 improves the quality of life. This means that vitamin D3 makes people feel better and function better.
If you live north of 40 degrees latitude, you are almost guaranteed to be low in vitamin D3 if you don’t supplement.
Clinical studies use doses in the range of 2000 IU to 10,000 IU per day.
While these doses may see like a lot, a summer day in the sun can easily give you this much vitamin D3. Check with your doctor before taking higher doses of vitamin D3.
Vitamin K2 Supplements
Heart health supplement routines should contain both vitamin D3 AND vitamin K2. Why?
Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 work well together for heart health and what’s more important: they are two nutrients that are VERY deficient most likely if you aren’t supplementing them.
Vitamin K2 reduces risk of calcification in the artery wall. This is helpful for heart health because calcification increases plaque and narrowing of the arteries. This atherosclerosis increases risk of heart attack, stroke and more.
I recently reviewed a 3-year double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showing that supplemental vitamin K2 as MenaQ7 at a daily dosage of 180 micrograms per day, improved arterial stiffness. This is one more reason vitamin K2 should be part of your heart health supplements.
Statin cholesterol drugs rob the body of vitamin K2 as well by reducing its metabolism in the body.
This is important to remember if you are on cholesterol-lowering medication. It may explain, in part, why patients who take cholesterol drugs still get arterial plaque and calcification in the artery wall.
Vitamin K2 Dosage
Clinical studies use 45 micrograms per day in children and 180 micrograms per day for healthy adults.
Coenzyme Q10 Supplements
Coenzyme Q10 supplements are helpful as a heart health supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), or ubiquinol, is a potent antioxidant that helps protect neurons and heart muscle cells.
Most CoQ10 is made within the body, but it’s a very finicky substance. If your diet isn’t pristine, you won’t make enough of it.
Another reason you need coqQ10 supplements may be that you are on cholesterol medications called statins. Statins are notorious for robbing the body of this critical nutrient.
They also deplete another critical heart nutrient: vitamin K2. The difference is: it is common practice for doctors to recommend CoQ10 supplementation for patients on statins; no such recommendation is being made regarding Vitamin K2.
Patients after heart surgery recovered quicker when taking coenzyme Q10 before their operations.
Verdict: CoQ10 is a safe heart health supplement that may help you get energy.
Coenzyme Q10 Doses
For heart health, most studies use doses of coenzyme q10 between 100-400 mg per day.
Magnesium is a powerful mineral that plays a tremendous role for benefiting the whole body, including the heart. Most people aren’t eating enough magnesium-rich foods, including green vegetables and seeds.
Magnesium helps keep heart rhythm normal, reduces risk of ischemic heart disease, and reduces risk of sudden cardiac death.
Magnesium supplements also can help people sleep better and metabolize glucose better.
Heart patients perform better on exercise tests after supplementing magnesium as well.
Many people benefit from taking magnesium supplements for these reasons.
My favorite forms of magnesium supplements are magnesium glycinate, magnesium, chloride, magnesium malate, and dimagnesium malate.
Start with a low dose, such as 100-200 mg per day and work your way up if you need.
Side effects: magnesium has a laxative effect if you get too much.
Omega 3 Supplements
Omega 3 deficiency is common.
Why? The best source of omega 3 fats is wild-caught fish. Research suggests that the ratios of omega 3 intake are lower than ever in the typical American diet.
Fish oil supplements are the primary supplement for omega 3’s that protect the heart from inflammation. They also reduce the stickiness of platelets.
Omega 3’s also help reduce triglycerides and blood pressure. If you don’t eat fish at least 2-4 times a week (be honest with yourself) you are likely low in omega 3’s.
While omega 3’s reduce inflammation, they don’t have the potential to reduce calcification like vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 have.
Recent research suggests that high-dose omega 3 supplementation reduces chances of fatal heart attacks and strokes by 25% over and above the benefit of cholesterol medications.
In this study, they used omega EPA only. Other studies show benefits of both omega DHA and EPA.
Plant sources are available as well. Look for plant sources of DHA and EPA. Linolenic acid is an omega 3 from plants, but it isn’t easily converted into the active form of omega 3 in the body.
Omega 3 Doses
Clinical studies use omega 3 doses of 100 mg all the way up to 4000 mg per day.
Supplements listed in this blog are generally safe. While safe for healthy people, some supplements interact with blood-thinning and other medications.
Always check with your doctor or dietitian before starting any supplement routine.
Heart health supplements help keep your body and heart strong and resilient. The supplements listed above all help get to the root cause of heart disease.
Some supplements help treat vitamin deficiencies that are common today.
Make sure to also eat a healthy diet to achieve the best heart health.
Children’s Heart Health Supplements
Kids and teens also benefit from supplements for lifelong heart health. I recently reviewed these benefits in my blog about 5 Reasons Why Children Need Vitamin K2 Supplements.
Product Research Guide
I know how challenging it can be to comb the vitamin supplement shelves and not know what to look for, so I am providing what I hope will be a useful product guide.
The following products I researched all have Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)-certified), contain patented forms of vitamin K2, and are all GMO free.
Supplements with both vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 (MenaQ7)
If you are looking to just add vitamin D3 and vitamin K2, there are some great options on the market.
An ample dose of both vitamin D3 and K2 are in this gem of a supplement.
It contains Vitamin D3 as Vegan Cholecalciferol from Lichen 5,000 IU, Vitamin K2 680 mcg as MK-4 (Menatetrenone), 500 mcg, and vitamin K2 MK-7 (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7), 180 mcg.
Other Ingredients: Medium Chain Triglycerides from coconut oil, olive Oil, D-Alpha Tocopherol (derived from sunflower oil).
Each serving has vitamin D3 5000 IU as cholecalciferol and 45 mcg vitamin K2 MK-7 (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7).
A single drop contains Vitamin D3 2000 IU and Vitamin K2 MK-7 45 mcg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7). I love this one because it is easy to take, no pills, and can work for just about anyone.
This supplement contains a good ratio of Vitamin D3 (5000 IU) and Vitamin K2 (180 mcg as MenaQ7®). Also contains microcrystalline cellulose and silicon dioxide.
Contains vitamin D3 500 IU and vitamin K2 90 mcg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7) per serving. This might be a good option for people spending time outside in sunnier southern climates as it has a much lower dose of vitamin D3. It also has bovine gelatin, extra virgin olive oil, and annatto.
Vitamin K2 Add-On Supplements
I am including a section for vitamin K2 add-ons because many great multivitamins and minerals do not have vitamin K2 at all.
They only contain vitamin K1, which isn’t as helpful for heart health.
Contains a good amount of vitamin K2 at 180 micrograms per capsule. Other ingredients include: microcrystalline cellulose, glycerol monostearate, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, ascorbyl palmitate, and rosemary extract.
Contains 100 mcg vitamin K2 (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7). Other ingredients include microcrystalline cellulose, modified cellulose (fiber), silicon dioxide, glycerol monostearate, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C), magnesium stearate, and rosemary extract.
Vitamin D3, Omega 3 and K2 supplements
The following supplements are tailored for those that are missing out on common vitamin deficiencies and omega 3’s for heart health.
Per capsule, contains a highly concentrated amount of omega 3: 600 mg EPA, 400 mg DHA, additional Omega-3 fatty acids 100 mg, and vitamin D3 1000 IU, vitamin K2 180 mg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7). Fish oil from anchovy, sardine, and mackerel, gelatin, glycerin, and annatto, natural lemon flavor, natural tocopherols (soy), rosemary extract, and ascorbyl palmitate.
Per small capsule, contains omega 3’s (375 mg EPA, 125 mg DHA, 30 mg other Omega 3s), and vitamin D3 2000 IU, vitamin K2 80 (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7), fish gelatin, glycerin, sunflower oil, medium chain triglycerides, natural tocopherols. I like this one because it is a liquid gelcap that is easy to swallow.
Vitamin K + D3 and Magnesium Supplements
This one has a higher vitamin K2 ratio than the previous supplements. I also love that it contains 3 minerals including a good amount of magnesium, calcium, and zinc:
It has vitamin D3 2000 IU (cholecalciferol), vitamin K1 500 mcg, vitamin K2 200 mcg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7), calcium citrate 500 mg, magnesium citrate 400 mg, and zinc citrate 25 mg.
I like this one because I’m a big fan of the benefits of seaweed too. It contains per serving a great dose of vitamin D3 and K2 as well: vitamin D3 5000 IU (cholecalciferol), vitamin K2 180 mcg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7), 672 mg calcium from seaweed, and 52 mg magnesium from seaweed.
Comprehensive Multivitamin/Mineral/Omega 3 Supplement
I’m really impressed with Healthy Cell AM/PM. This is comprehensive and natural multivitamin and mineral combination. It has vitamin K2 80 mcg (MenaQ7® as Menaquinone-7), vitamin D3 1000 IU, magnesium 40 mg, many trace minerals, and naturally-derived folate.
Their iodine comes from kelp, which I love. Iodine, by the way, is a nutrient that most Americans are low in. Omega 3s are also found in this supplement from plant sources borage and evening primrose at 100 mg per serving.
You may still need to add in extra vitamin D3 and fish oil to your daily routine, but it’s a great base supplement for almost anyone.
Questions or comments? Reach out to me at The Healthy RD contact page.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 20 years, has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. Has researched supplements and plants as medicine throughout her career. Loves helping people gain function and vitality by tackling root causes of illness.