Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
Thiamine plays an important role in energy metabolism of heart cells. Deficiency often occurs in individuals taking diuretics to manage their blood pressure or in those consuming large amounts of alcohol, as both of these deplete Thiamine.
Food Sources: Brewer’s Yeast, Whole Grains, Brown Rice, Tuna, Sunflower Seeds, Asparagus, Spinach
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 25-100 mg/day
Niacin (Vitamin B3, Niacinamide, Nicotinic Acid)
Niacin has been shown in research to be superior to statin drugs in many ways. Niacin has the ability to reduce LDL cholesterol, Lp(a) lipoproteins, triglycerides and fibrinogen, while increasing HDL cholesterol. It dilates blood vessels which can cause flushing, therefore, should only be taken under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider, especially on the upper end of suggested dosages.
Food Sources: Peanuts, Liver, Chicken, Tuna, Salmon, Halibut, Legumes, Seeds, Crimini Mushrooms
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 25-200 mg/day
Much higher dosages are often necessary especially in individuals with high cholesterol, but Niacin can be toxic to the liver in therapeutically high doses and must be monitored by a healthcare practitioner in such circumstances.
Pantethine (Dimer of Vitamin B5, Pantothenic Acid)
Pantethine can decrease elevated total cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL, as well as increase HDL. Specifically, Pantethine inhibits several liver enzymes and blocks the activity of cholesterol producer HMG-CoA Reductase by about 50%, thus significantly lowering cholesterol.
Food Sources: Sunflower Seeds, Broccoli/Cauliflower, Crimini Mushrooms, Liver, Avocado
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 25-100 mg/day
B6 (Pyridoxine, Pyridoxal-5-Phosphate), Folate (B9, Folic Acid), B12 (Methylcobalmin) and Choline
These vitamins all work in conjunction to lower homocysteine levels in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid formed in the blood and studies show that elevated levels are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It is suggested that elevated homocysteine damages the lining of arterial walls, increasing the risk of blood clots and arteriosclerosis, which escalate the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Many health professionals now consider homocysteine levels to be as important as cholesterol and triglyceride levels as indicators of cardiovascular health.19
Levels of B vitamins can be depleted by many types of prescription medications, including oral contraceptives, asthma medication, anti-epileptics, anti-inflammatories and diuretics.
Strict vegans may have difficulty obtaining enough vitamin B12 from food.
Certain vegetarian foods that are purported to contain vitamin B12, such as tempeh, tofu and Brewer's yeast may have only negligible amounts when prepared in sterile, commercial environments.
Many B vitamins are supplemented as one product under the umbrella term of “B complex” or simply, a “multivitamin.” This can be quite beneficial as deficiencies in some B vitamins can affect the body's status of other Bs. There are also more widely available formulas gaining popularity that are specifically targeted for individuals with elevated homocysteine levels containing only vitamins B6, folate and B12.
Look for vitamin B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate, as this is a more bioavailable form and is preferred by many healthcare practitioners.
One out of eight people carry a genetic defect requiring an increased need for folic acid (folate), which as mentioned is a necessary component to maintaining proper levels of homocysteine. If you suspect that you are not benefitting from folate supplementation ask your healthcare professional to test you for the MTHFR gene, as you may require a different form of folate to properly utilize it in the body.
Regarding oral supplementation, some people believe that under-the-tongue (sublingual) B12 may be more bioavailable than tablet or capsule forms. People with digestive problems may require B12 supplementation, as low levels of stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) and low levels of intrinsic factor can impede vitamin B12 absorption from food. Specifically, this includes individuals taking Proton Pump Inhibitors as treatment for heartburn because this class of drug further decreases intrinsic factor levels, a necessary component for B12 absorption.
Food Sources: Salmon, Tuna, Turkey, Chicken, Spinach, Bell Peppers, Leafy Greens, Bananas
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 25-200 mg/day
Food Sources: Lentils, Beans (Pinto, Garbanzo, Black, Navy), Leafy Greens (Spinach, Collard, Turnip), Asparagus, Broccoli, Citrus Fruits
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 400 mcg-800 mcg/day
Food Sources: Meat, Poultry, Fish (Including Shellfish), Organic Eggs
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 1000 mcg/day (sublingually)
Food Sources: Soybeans, Organic Egg Yolks, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds, Lentils
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 700-1000 mg/day
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect the body and cardiovascular system from oxidative damage. Many people eating a standard American diet may be deficient in Vitamin E because it is found in the outer part of grains, typically stripped during production of refined processed flours.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs can reduce the body's supply of vitamin E, so supplementation may be especially important if you are on such medications.
Those with documented Vitamin K deficiency, or on blood thinners like Coumadin, should check with their healthcare professional before supplementing with Vitamin E, due to potential interference with clotting processes in the body.
If supplementing with Vitamin E choose the natural form, D-Alpha tocopherol, or use a mixed tocopherol blend (containing alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Avoid L-tocopherol and DL-tocopherol, as these are synthetic forms and are less bioavailable. Evidence of toxicity from vitamin E supplementation generally occurs at doses above 3000 IU/day and may include diarrhea, stomach cramps or double vision. Cease taking vitamin E if these symptoms occur.
Food Sources: Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Leafy Greens (Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach), Fresh Oils (Olive, Peanut, Sunflower Seed) kept in tightly sealed dark bottles
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 400 IU/day
Vitamin K (K1 and K2)
Vitamins K1 and K2, especially the MK-4 fraction, are associated with a reduced risk of arterial plaques and mortality due to coronary artery disease. MK-4 has a short half-life requiring larger dosages, however, a newer form of Vitamin K2, MK-7, is gaining popularity due to its longer half-life, meaning it remains in the body requiring smaller dosages. There are many studies indicating the positive effects of K2 on reducing arterial calcification, heart attack and death. Vitamin K also maintains normal blood clotting and is therefore contraindicated if you are taking blood thinners, like Coumadin.
Food Sources: Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale, Spinach, Chard, Collard), Broccoli, Asparagus, Fermented Products (Natto, Soy, Cheeses), Organic Eggs
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 100-150 mcg/day
Adequate dosing can also come from a practitioner-grade multivitamin and 1 cup of green leafy vegetables each day.
Magnesium is a co-factor in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, therefore, its importance to overall health and vitality cannot be overstated. It has been estimated that 61% of Americans do not receive the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Magnesium, making it one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America.20
Magnesium plays a vital role in the nervous system and helps to prevent overstimulation of muscles, thus increasing muscle relaxation. Through its role in supporting the nervous system, magnesium can also help to reduce stress, which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease in general and elevated blood pressure specifically. Higher blood levels of Magnesium have shown decreases in hypertension, affecting both the diastolic and systolic numbers of blood pressure.
Magnesium has also been shown to raise HDL levels and lower CRP (C-Reactive Protein) levels, a marker of inflammation often used to determine cardiovascular disease risk. Magnesium also helps to modulate insulin and improved insulin sensitivity has been correlated with decreased triglycerides.
Many people are deficient in magnesium if they have been under prolonged stress, if they are taking oral contraceptives or if their diet is high in refined foods, especially refined grains. Other pharmaceuticals that may deplete the body's magnesium stores include warfarin, cyclosporine and corticosteroids. Furthermore, today's soils are often deficient in magnesium due to modern farming practices making supplementation even more necessary.
Some evidence suggests that the chelated forms of magnesium, such as magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate are better absorbed by the body than other forms. Magnesium is often supplemented in conjunction with calcium, due to their synergistic relationship. People with kidney disease or certain severe heart diseases should check with their health professional before supplementing with magnesium. If diarrhea occurs with magnesium supplementation, try lowering the dose.
Food Sources: Raw Pumpkin Seeds, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Black Beans, Fish (Salmon, Halibut), Nuts
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 400-800 mg/day
Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in grape skins and is thought to be a major reason moderate red wine consumption has proven to be cardio-protective. Resveratrol appears to be heart protective due to its anti-platelet aggregation abilities (preventing blood clots from forming), as well as being an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It has also been shown to hinder fat storage and is somewhat protective against diet-induced obesity.
Resveratrol has been shown to inhibit growth and increase “self-death” of cancerous cells, specifically breast, prostate, stomach, colon and pancreatic cancer cells. This nutrient is also receiving a lot of attention from the anti-aging and longevity communities.
If supplementing with Resveratrol make sure to use the bio-available Trans-Resveratrol, not the less absorbable Cis-Resveratrol form.
Food Sources: Red Wine, Red Grapes, Peanuts, Some Berries
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 125-175 mg/day
D-Ribose is a simple sugar molecule with a wealth of health functions and is one of the key components to ATP (cellular energy) production. One researcher last year referred to the heart mitochondria, the cellular site where ATP is produced, as “the gates of life and death.” When heart muscles become unconditioned and diseased, they are often deprived of blood flow and unable to pump blood efficiently. This creates a sharp reduction of ATP, increasing the risk of heart damage and potential for a heart attack. D-ribose is an excellent therapy for cardio rejuvenation, chronic fatigue sufferers and for athletes wanting to increase their stamina and energy.
Supplement Suggested Dosage: Cardiologists often recommend 5 to 15 grams/day total, divided in 3 dosages
Taurine is an amino acid that is vital for heart health. In fact, Taurine makes up greater than 50% of the total amino acid pool in the heart. This nutrient can lower blood pressure and aids in efficient heart contractibility.
Taurine also supports insulin production and protects from oxidative damage in the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, making it beneficial for diabetics. It may be helpful for Alzheimer’s patients by assisting with Acetylcholine neurotransmitter production and has an affinity for the eyes, specifically the retina.
Vitamin B6 is a necessary component for your body to form Taurine, therefore, people taking oral contraceptives, which deplete B6 levels may have a greater need for Taurine supplementation.
Food Sources: Meat, Dairy, Oatmeal
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 500-3000 mg/day best absorbed away from food
Garlic (Allium Sativum)
Fresh Garlic is known to inhibit atherosclerosis, normalize lipoprotein balance and decrease blood pressure. It also has anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties and functions as an antioxidant. However, not all garlic supplements are created equal. The general rule is go for the smelliest for the best health benefits. Over and over again studies have shown that aged garlic often has little effect on lowering cholesterol and blood pressure because most of the allicin has been removed. Allicin is the compound which provides the characteristic odor of garlic and is the strongest active constituent which contributes to heart health.
Supplement Suggested Dosage: Made from fresh garlic, enterically coated to provide a daily dose of at least 10 mg of alliin, or allicin potential of 4,000 micrograms/day
Turmeric has gained popularity as more and more people learn of the amazing benefits it has to offer. Turmeric has been used as an important part of Ayurvedic medicine in India for thousands of years and now scientific findings are supporting that historical use. Research has demonstrated that turmeric has potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering abilities.
Many of the benefits of turmeric have been studied through populations in India who eat it, as part of curry flavoring, several meals per day. Research has shown that to activate the beneficial health properties of turmeric it must be cooked with fat, such as ghee (clarified butter) or oil.21 This supports the traditional uses of curries cooked with spices and ghee and warmed whole milk spiced with turmeric.
If supplementing with turmeric ensure that the preparation has been processed in such a way that the constituents are active and bioavailable.
Supplement Suggested Dosage: 4 grams/day
Fiber binds toxins, excess hormones, fats and cholesterol and helps eliminate them from the body. Fiber also decreases cholesterol levels, enhances gut health, increases gastrointestinal enzyme production, improves regularity of bowel movements and boosts satiety.
A daily intake of 20-35 grams of fiber per day is recommended, but most Americans only get about 12 grams daily. (22) Fiber is a natural component of fruits and vegetables and many grains, but much of the processed foods in today’s diet are void of this important nutrient.
Food Sources: Beans (Black, Pinto, Lima, Garbanzo), Raspberries, Leafy Greens (Collard, Mustard, Turnip), Broccoli, Cauliflower, Prunes, Apples, Pears
Supplement Suggested Dosage: Psyllium Fiber Acacia Fiber (Soluble Fiber) – take away from other supplements and drink at least 12 oz. of water with each dose.
Plant Sterols are the fats of plants. They "look" similar to cholesterol and fit perfectly into cholesterol receptors, preventing absorption of more detrimental cholesterol, which is eventually excreted from the digestive system.
Food Sources: Nuts, Vegetable Oils, Corn, Rice