Top Supplements For Heart Health

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Photograph of Cooper Clinic Cardiologist Dr Nina Radford Top Supplements For Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in adults in the United States, surpassing death from all forms of cancer, respiratory disease, stroke and accidents. While most adults are terrified of succumbing to Alzheimer’s, heart disease took almost 600,000 lives in 2010, while a mere 83,500 died from Alzheimer’s! Do you know that almost 25 percent of the deaths attributed to heart disease are individuals who die of a heart attack (sudden death) without any prior notion they had heart disease?

So, what can one do to lessen the chances of dying from heart disease? A multi-prong approach is actually the best approach for reducing heart disease mortality risk – controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels (and diabetes if one has it), maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, refraining from excessive alcohol use, and not smoking. While it’s sometimes impossible to overcome genetics, controlling many of these factors is largely a lifestyle issue, so it’s safe to say that a lot of heart disease is preventable. Looking at these factors, are there supplements that might help? I talked with Dr. Nina Radford, Director of Clinical Research and a cardiologist at Cooper Clinic to see if she might share her top supplements for heart health.

Come to find out, there are a lot of supplements that can positively impact heart health. When I asked Dr. Radford, if she had a favorite, Dr. Radford thought for a minute and then told me this question was akin to asking a mother to name a favorite child! So, following are the heart health benefits of several different supplements, along with Dr. Radford’s thoughts.


If you’ve had a comprehensive blood panel run anytime recently, it likely included a blood test that measures levels of a protein called hs-CRP or high sensitivity C-reactive protein. Made by the liver, C-reactive protein is known as an inflammatory marker, and this protein indicates the presence of inflammation in the body. The inflammation can come from all kinds of events – getting a cold or the flu, breaking an arm or suffering a bad fall, developing cancer, or having a heart attack. These changes are known collectively as the acute-phase response, and when the body undergoes any of these types of stressors, C-reactive protein rises. Since experts believe hardening of the arteries is an inflammatory process, hs-CRP may predict heart disease along with the standard cholesterol screening tests. The hs-CRP measure may indicate whether cholesterol plaque is about to rupture, releasing clots in the blood stream.

A number of conditions and drugs can affect hs-CRP levels. For example, it has been demonstrated that aspirin, beta-blockers, niacin, and statins can lower hs-CRP. In addition, multivitamins, particularly vitamin B6 and vitamin C, also lower C-reactive protein. One of the first research studies conducted on Cooper Complete looked at the impact of a multivitamin on C-reactive protein. Iron Free A clinical trial (reported in December 2003 American Journal of Medicine) found that Cooper Complete Original Iron Free lowered CRP by 32 percent. (Cooper Complete adult multivitamin and mineral formulations contain 10 mg vitamin B6. Cooper Complete original formulations contain 500 mg vitamin C, Basic One contains 150 mg, and Elite Athlete contains 2,000 mg.)


Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found in every cell in the body. CoQ10 has a broad range of function in the human body, but its main function is to serve as a catalyst to convert the food we eat into energy. Ubiquinone is the fully oxidized form of CoQ10 and has been marketed as a supplement for decades. Our body converts ubiquinone supplements into ubiquinol, the fully reduced form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol supplements are relatively new in the marketplace as scientists only recently figured out how to stabilize it. (Right now, ubiquinol is only found in standalone supplements, but science is on the brink of being able to blend ubiquinol into a multi-ingredient product.)

Described as “cardioprotective”, CoQ10 protects both the blood vessels that feed the heart, and the heart muscle itself, from damage. More than 150 papers focus on the role that ubiquinone/ubiquinol has on congestive heart failure, as CoQ10 levels are lower in patients with heart muscle disorders and decreased heart function. Improving CoQ10 in blood levels has been associated with improvements in ejection fraction, a measure of heart function.

Research indicates that statins (cholesterol lowering medications) deplete the level of CoQ10 in the body. For this reason, physicians often suggest that patients taking statin medications also take 100- to 200 mg CoQ10 daily. (Cooper Complete Original formulations and Elite Athlete contain 50 mg CoQ10 ubiquinone. The product line also includes standalone CoQ10 in the ubiquinol form at 50 mg and 100 mg concentrations.)

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that functions as a hormone in the body. It regulates calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood and promotes healthy bone formation and mineralization throughout the lifespan. Benefits of adequate amounts of vitamin D are extension, and include cardiovascular health. Cooper Clinic has been testing vitamin D level as part of the preventive exam for several years, and has a baseline intake recommendation of 2,000 IU per day. Research suggests individuals with low levels of vitamin D have elevated risk of heart attack. In a study conducted in Denmark, researchers found that individuals with extremely low blood levels of vitamin D had an 81 percent increased risk of fatal heart disease, and 64 percent increased risk of heart attack when compared to people with higher (but still not ideal), vitamin D levels. In a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, researchers followed 454 health professionals 40- to 75 who had suffered a nonfatal heart attack as well as 900 men with no history of cardiovascular disease over 10 years. The men with the lowest levels of vitamin D, no more than 15 nanograms per milliliter of blood, were found to have higher risk of heart attack and heart failure (as well as stroke), compared to the individuals who had vitamin D levels of at least 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood. (All Cooper Complete adult multivitamins contain 2,000 IU vitamin D, and there are also standalone vitamin D  1,0000 IU and Vitamin D 5000 IU.


There are literally thousands of studies showing the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for the heart because they help lower blood pressure, resting heart rate, risk of arrhythmia, sudden death, and triglycerides. Omega-3 fats can also improve the HDL/LDL cholesterol radio, and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.

The key components in omega-3 supplements are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), known as “long chain” omega-3’s. EPA and DHA actually come from the micro-algae that fish eat, especially fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat a variety of fish, preferably fatty fish, at least twice per week as this provides an average daily intake of about 500 mg EPA+DHA. Higher levels are needed for those who have heart issues. Individuals who have coronary heart disease (CHD) should consume about one gram (1,000 mg) of EPA and DHA per day. And, people who have elevated triglycerides may need two to four grams (2,000 – 4,000 mg) of EPA and DHA.

Most Americans don’t eat fish, let alone fatty fish, even once a week. In these instances, omega-3 supplements are a great alternative. (Cooper Complete Advanced Omega-3 contains 720 mg EPA and 480 mg DHA per two softgel serving.)

Article provided by Cooper Complete team

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