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The heart is one of the most vital organs of the body. It is a muscular organ which serves as your very own internal “pump”. This fist-size pump may seem to be a small part of you, but it is responsible for the transportation of oxygen and nutrients throughout the different tissues and organs of your body via blood circulation.
You only have one heart. Unlike other organs that come in pairs like the lungs, kidneys, ovaries and eyes, your heart has no backup in case it fails. No Plan B should it stop working. Unless you have millions to pay for a risky heart surgery, it is best to just take care and keep your one and only heart – together with the other organs and tissues of the cardiovascular system – in tiptop shape.
Keeping your overall health in mint condition naturally gives you a healthy heart. However, there are some people, no matter how young and healthy they look physically, are genetically more inclined to develop cardiovascular problems like hypertension and heart disease. There are also those who just don’t want to risk messing up with their only blood pump, so keeping it health is a priority.
For those who want to keep extra care of their heart, here’s some good news for you. Science has been able to pinpoint certain nutrients that can contribute to the well-being of your cardiovascular syste. These are called “heart vitamins” and can be found both naturally in food and in your local pharmacy in the form of oral supplements. By including heart vitamins in your daily diet, you get a better chance of fighting the onset of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
Here are some of the most known and widely-recommended heart vitamins available today:
Vitamin B6 (also called pyridoxine), Vitamin B9 (also known as folate or folic acid), and Vitamin B12 (also called cobalamine or cyanocobalamine in supplement form) are the B vitamins that are responsible for helping the body remove homocysteine (an amino acid used normally by the body in cellular metabolism and the manufacture of proteins) from the blood. Elevated concentrations of homocysteine in the blood may increase risk of developing heart disease by enhancing blood clotting and damagin blood vessel lining.
Vitamin B3 (known commonly as niacin) has also been seen by some studies as a B vitamin that may improve heart health. According to some studies, Vitamin B3 helps reduce bad cholesterol and increases levels of the good type. Lower cholesterol levels (the bad type) contributes in achieving good heart health.
Naturally, you can find most of the B vitamins in whole, unprocessed foods, especially meat and meat products like liver and tuna. Other good sources for B vitamins are whole grains, potatoes, bananas and beans. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin B3 for adults is between 14 to 16 mg although higher doses of 50 mg and up may be prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. For Vitamin B6, recommended intake of 1.3 mcg may go up to 3 mcg daily for prevention of heart disease and lowering of homocysteine levels. The daily recommended intake for Vitamin B12 is about 2.4 mcg while for B9, it is 400 mcg (for pregnant women, doctors prescribe about 600 mcg)
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, not only keeps you resistant to colds and flu. It also helps prevent heart disease, hypertension and other cardiovascular ailments through its antioxidant abilities.
To explain what antioxidant is, you first need to know about free radicals. Free radicals are just really by-products of the body when it metabolizes food. They can also be absorbed by our bodies when we are exposed to negative environmental agents like tobacco, pollution or radiation. Free radicals are harmful to us because they start chain reactions that damage cells. They have also been seen to contribute in the development of deadly diseases such as premature aging, cancer and heart disease.
Now, anti-oxidants are the arch nemesis of free radicals. They prevent these cell-damaging chain reactions from happening in the first place, thus protecting the body from potential damage and dreadful diseases. Vitamin C happens to be one of the easiest to find antioxidants that can keep our cells away from the effect of free radicals.
Vitamin C can be found in many citrus fruits and vegetables naturally, but if you can’t keep track of what you eat, you may take ascorbic acid supplements readily available in drug stores. You may also get your daily dose of its antioxidant goodness from bottled juices and iced tea drinks. Make sure to read the label to know how much you are getting. Experts suggest that the daily intake should be 1,000 mg. Others suggest that to get the optimal benefits, you need 3,000 mg. To know how much Vitamin C is best for you and your condition, consult your doctor.
Whoever said that the only thing you get from Vitamin E is great skin?
Vitamin E is actually one of the most important and powerful antioxidants, which as explained earlier, helps prevent cell damage and heart disease. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in different forms – the most active being “alpha tocopherol”. This vitamin is actually a blood thinner as well, so it helps improve blood circulation and reduces the risks of clot formation. It also reduces cholesterol levels and artery-clogging saturated fat. Even after a heart attack, Vitamin E can still be beneficial to a paient, as it helps minimize scarring after the attack.
Like all the other heart vitamins, Vitamin E occurs naturally in food sources and in supplement form. There are several Vitamin E supplements available in dosages ranging from 50 to 1,000 mg. Your doctor is the right person to recommend the right Vitamin dosage for you, for as long as it does not excced the upper tolerable intake level or “UL”. The “UL” for Vitamin E is at 1,000 mg per day. Also take note that since Vitamin E is a natural blood thinner, you should consult your doctor before buying any supplement.
Coenzyme Q10 or Co Q10 is also known as “ubiquinone”. It is technically not a vitamin or mineral, but research has recognized it to be an essential part of the heart’s healthy regimen. Coenzyme Q10 has been reported to increase oxygen supply to the heart and re-energizes its cells.
CoQ10 was discovered in 1957 by Dr. Frederick Crane, PhD. After 4 years, Dr. Peter D. Mitchell, PhdD was able to figure out how Coenzyme Q10 produces energy at the cellular level. He won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1978 for this discovery.
CoQ10 is found in different types of food but only organ meats have been seen to contain significant amounts. Unfortunately, not many people like eating organ meats. It can also be produced by your own body within the cell’s mitochondria (the place where energy is produced), however, your natural ability to produce this decreases as you age or when you contract disease. This is why doctors can precribe the COq10 supplements to serve as complementary treatment for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and angina. For a healthy heart, the recommended intake daily is about 150 mg.
Patients who have recently suffered from a heart attack – where spasms of the arteries are the culprit – has been found to contain low levels of magnesium. Magnesium supplements can help stabilize heart rhythm and reduce a patient’s susceptibility to having another attack.
Magnesium is abundant in food that is rich in the green pigment of plants called chlorophyll. Barley grass and wheatgrass have naturally high amounts of Magnesium. You calso find this mineral in common multivitamins.
Selenium is another important antioxidant that helps strengthen the heart. It is a trace mineral that also protects the body from cancer and heavy metal toxicity. As an antioxidant, it helps prevent cellular damage.
Plant foods grown in Selenium-rich soil are great sources of this mineral, but if you know you don’t get enough of it daily, supplements can be taken. The recommended daily intake is about 55 mcg daily, although doses of 200 mcg per day have been used to treat some conditions.
Manganese is a catalyst in cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis. It facilitates metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins and aids production of sex hormones.
Manganese is another trace mineral and antioxidant, just like Selenium. Studies have found that “good cholesterol” or HDL levels is low in adults deficient in manganese. The RDA of manganese is 1.8 mg for women and 2.3 mg for men.
There are many other vitamins and minerals like chromium, lecithin and potassium that contribute to cardiovascular health and may be considered as heart vitamins. Consult your cardiologist which ones are best for you.