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Top 14 Vitamins, Herbs, & Supplements for Heart Health

Reviewed by Dr. Frieda Wiley PharmD
 
An orange tree. Oranges are high in vitamin C, which is great for heart health.

Your heart is one organ you can't live without. In times past, people actually considered the heart the seat of thought and emotion, rather than the brain. After some time, experts realized that the heart actually delivers life-giving oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.

Getting enough heart-healthy nutrients is just as vital to cardiovascular health as exercise. Vitamins, minerals, and certain herbs help your heart, blood vessels, and entire circulatory system function well. Below we list the 14 best supplements that provide the biggest bang for your buck, so you can choose what's right for you.

Best Vitamins & Minerals for Your Heart

Eating a healthful, balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do for your heart. And whether you get them through diet or supplements, certain vitamins and minerals play a special role in supporting a healthy, happy heart.

As you grow older, your body may produce less of certain nutrients, or your body may absorb them less efficiently than when you were younger — that makes supplementation increasingly helpful with age.

These nutrients will help keep your heart healthy throughout life, and well into your golden years.

Vitamin D

Studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to heart health risk factors. Getting more will make your heart happy.

Did you know that the sunshine vitamin plays a big role in how nerves carry messages to your heart?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone produced by your liver and kidneys, although exposure to the sun can boost its production. That's why people call it the sunshine vitamin! With age, your body makes less vitamin D, as well.

Vitamin D helps regulate levels of calcium in the blood, which plays a role in how nerves carry messages to your heart — along with other parts of your body.

This vitamin may promote normal blood sugar levels.[1]

The daily requirement for adult men and women is 15 mcg (micrograms) or 600 IU. The Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board recommends that adults over 70 get 20 mcg (800 IU) per day.[1]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a robust antioxidant that boosts collagen and repairs damaged tissues!

Found in oranges and other heart-healthy citrus fruits, vitamin C helps the body repair damaged tissue. Extra vitamin C also boosts your body's production of collagen, a protein that supports healthy blood vessels. A powerful antioxidant, this nutrient counteracts free radicals that damage cells. Vitamin C also plays a key role in the body’s production of L-carnitine, a compound critical to metabolism and heart health.[2]

Adult women need 75 mg (milligrams) while adult men need 90 mg of vitamin C each day, but if you eat a standard American diet, you might not get enough.[2]

Your best bet? Boost your citrus fruit intake! Eating vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables — at least five servings a day — has been linked to a more than 15 percent reduction in heart disease risk.[3]

Vitamin C normalizes levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and promotes normal blood pressure. It does this by boosting production of a compound called nitric oxide that helps relax and open blood vessels, helping your blood flow smoothly and efficiently.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays a role in how your blood clots. It also interacts with your body's processing of calcium, which transmits electrical impulses in the heart. Low vitamin K is linked to "vascular calcifications" or deposits on arterial walls, which leads to atherosclerosis — a leading risk factor for heart disease.

With normal levels of vitamin K, people generally have fewer calcium deposits. Higher vitamin K intake improves cardiovascular health by optimizing calcium levels in tissues.[4] The right amount of vitamin K promotes proper blood flow.

The daily requirement for vitamin K is 90 mcg for adult women and 120 mcg for adult men; pregnant or breastfeeding women and children require different amounts.[5]

Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most plentiful mineral in your body — but many people do not get enough. This mineral regulates muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.

Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, which, as mentioned, transmits the electrical impulse of your heartbeat. Magnesium helps muscles relax, while calcium helps them contract; together they help the heart muscle work properly.

Maintaining adequate magnesium levels is critical for heart health.[6, 7] The daily recommendation is 320 mg for adult women and 420 mg for adult men. While you can get magnesium from nuts, seeds, and legumes, you may need a supplement to ensure you get enough.[6]

Different forms of magnesium are sold as supplements with different absorption rates; make sure you do your research on the best types for your needs. For more information, see our article 9 Types of Magnesium Explained.

Potassium

A deficiency in potassium can lead to blood pressure issues in adults.

Potassium is an electrolyte, a mineral that acts as an electrical charge to help your body. These electrolytes help your heart, muscles, and nerves function normally and to maintain a proper blood volume. Like vitamin K, potassium also promotes normal calcium levels in blood vessels.[8]

Many people don't get enough potassium. Too little of this mineral, along with too much sodium, can lead to blood pressure issues. The good news? Adequate potassium promotes normal blood pressure in adults.

Adults need quite a bit daily — 4,700 mg — which you can get from apricots, bananas, lentils, and brown rice, along with supplements.[9]

Avoid processed foods like white rice and refined-flour bread, because processing grains removes much of their natural potassium.

 

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Heart Health Supplements

Besides vitamins and minerals, other types of nutrients help you maintain a healthy heart. Below are the best supplements for heart health.

CoQ10

CoQ10, or coenzyme Q10, plays a critical role in every single cell in your body. Also called ubiquinone, CoQ10 sparks chemical reactions that help mitochondria, your cells' “power plants," convert food into energy. That's important because your heart consumes so much energy!

CoQ10 also helps keep veins open so blood can flow freely and without obstruction.[10] It may also promote normal blood pressure.

CoQ10 promotes heart health and protects against toxins.

CoQ10 is a strong antioxidant that helps counteract oxidative stress — the damage caused to cells from toxins, illness, UV rays, or the body's natural aging processes.

Although your body produces CoQ10, it makes less as you age, making supplementation helpful. I recommend Global Healing Center’s CoQ10 & BioPQQ® with Shilajit. It's an exclusive blend that combines CoQ10 with BioPQQ, a compound that supports your cell’s mitochondria, plus shilajit — a substance that enhances the bioavailability of the other two ingredients. Altogether, this trifecta provides an energy boost at the cellular level.

You can also find CoQ10 naturally in olive oil, pistachios, sesame seeds, and cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are called the “essential" fatty acids because your body needs them, but it can't make them on its own; thus, you have to get them from supplements or food.[11] Omega-3 fatty acids — including ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — improve your chances of living a long life with a healthy heart.

Did you know that your body doesn't produce omega-3s? You have to get them from supplements or natural foods!

Omega-3 fatty acids keep chronic redness and swelling in check, and they also lower the body's production of triglycerides — fats that circulate in the blood. Studies have also found that omega-3s balance levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol.[12]

The daily requirement for ALA is 1.1 g (grams) in adult women and 1.6 g in adult men. Breastfeeding and pregnant women need more, and children need a bit less. Experts haven't set recommended amounts for the other main types, EPA and DHA, although they are still important nutrients to obtain regularly.[11] Natural plant-based sources include algae oil, flax seeds, olives, and olive oil.

Trans-Resveratrol

You may have heard of the heart health benefits of red wine. Scientists think resveratrol, a polyphenol antioxidant, provides red wine's heart-healthy benefits. Scientists isolated this compound from the skin of grapes and have since found it also in other fruits, like mulberries, cranberries, and blueberries.

Resveratrol may protect blood vessel walls and promote healthy levels of both HDL (good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol.[13] It also promotes normal blood pressure. Further, resveratrol mimics the positive health effects of calorie restriction and fasting. Both fasting and resveratrol spur production of adiponectin, a compound that promotes fat metabolism and blood sugar balance.

While you can get small amounts from food or red wine, you won't get enough to make a significant difference in your heart health. Supplements concentrate the nutrient in servings that can effectively support heart health.

Make sure to look for trans-resveratrol, which studies find much more effective than its isomer cis-resveratrol.[14] Some supplements contain both, but higher-quality ones contain up to 99 percent trans-resveratrol.

Folate/Folic Acid

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B-9; folic acid is the manufactured form of B-9 that's used in most supplements or in fortified foods (which we do not recommend because your body processes vitamins and minerals most efficiently from their natural form).

Whichever form, vitamin B-9 helps your body make red blood cells and DNA. It also helps balance your body's levels of homocysteine. Without enough folate, your homocysteine levels can get too high, which can cause swelling of the arteries and other blood vessels. Lower levels of homocysteine are linked with a healthier heart.[15]

Folate-rich foods include nuts, leafy greens, mushrooms, and other fruits and veggies. You can supplement with folic acid. The recommended daily allowance is 400 mcg for both men and women.[16]

Herbs & Spices for Your Heart

Herbs and spices are more than flavor enhancers: They're powerful substances that many cultures have used to support health for centuries. Modern research has found that several can, indeed, benefit your heart.

Bergamot

Bergamot is a type of citrus plant. Its oil is the fragrant ingredient in Earl Grey tea. You can also get it in supplement form. Bergamot is rich in polyphenols, a disease-fighting compound found in plants.

When people took bergamot extract for six months, they not ended up with lower triglycerides, total and bad cholesterol, and atherogenic lipoproteins (molecules that tend to build up in arteries). Bergamot also increased good (HDL) cholesterol — all of which make for a healthier heart.[17]

Hawthorn

Traditional healers have long used the leaves, berries, and flowers of the hawthorn plant to address heart and blood vessel conditions. Hawthorn can promote normal blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Hawthorn may also fight free radicals, expand blood vessels, and protect muscles — including the heart.[18] Most people take it in supplement form. Interestingly, hawthorn berries are extremely hard to distinguish from other closely related species; most of the hawthorn used in supplements come from Europe.

Cinnamon

People have used this sweet apple pie spice for centuries for its health-promoting traits. Chemicals found in cinnamon, including cinnamaldehyde and cinnamic acid, act as antioxidants — fighting off free radicals and harmful organisms.

Cinnamon also reduces systemic redness and swelling and balances blood lipid (fat) levels. A daily serving of cinnamon promotes normal blood sugar and blood pressure, both of which keep the heart healthy.[19] You can buy cinnamon in stick form or ground in a jar — and it is an increasingly popular supplement, which concentrates the helpful compounds.

Ginger

Ginger root contains several anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds including gingerol and zingerone that can protect the heart and soothe systemic redness and swelling in your body.

Some studies have shown these properties of ginger help normalize blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, and HDL (good) cholesterol.[20] All of these factors make for a happy heart!

Garlic

Garlic was one of the earliest herbal medicines. Chemicals found in this tangy bulb soothe chronic redness and swelling. You can use it in cooking or you can take odor-free garlic capsules.

Garlic may slow plaque buildup, which encourages blood vessels to stay open. It also has a strong ability to regulate blood pressure as well as blood lipid (fat) levels — keeping your heart in top shape.[21]

Other Heart-Healthy Tips

Even if you include all of these heart-healthy substances in your diet or consume them as supplements, the best way to keep your heart healthy is by living a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle. The most important things you can do for your heart include:

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Precautions & Side Effects

While all of the above nutrients and supplements are generally safe, they can react with certain medications or cause side effects or allergic reactions in some people.

For example, if you take blood thinners, be cautious about consuming cinnamon or garlic. Additionally, vitamin K may lower blood sugar too much if you have diabetes.

If you are unsure about the safety of any nutritional supplement or vitamin, talk to your healthcare provider. Positive results may vary depending on the brand or type of supplement you take. Look for pure, organic, high-quality supplements.

Points to Remember

Your heart keeps you alive, so it's important to adopt a diet that supports heart health and reduces your risk factors for heart disease.

Maintaining sufficient levels of certain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients help you better manage your cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Your best heart protection comes from consuming vitamins C, D, and K, magnesium, potassium, coenzyme Q10, omega-3 fatty acids, resveratrol, and folate. You can get all of these from a healthy diet, but you can also try plant-based supplements.

Heart-healthy herbs and spices include bergamot, hawthorn, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic. Make sure that you make healthy lifestyle choices — such as exercising regularly, eating heart-healthy foods, and reducing the amount of stress in your life.

Have you tried any vitamins, herbs, or supplements for heart health? What works best for you? Comment below!

References (21)
  1. Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 9 Nov 2018. Accessed 28 Jan 2019.
  2. Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 9 Nov 2018. Accessed 28 Jan 2019.
  3. Moser M, Chun OK. Vitamin C and heart health: a review based on findings from epidemiologic studies. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Aug;17(8):1328.
  4. Maresz K. Proper calcium use: vitamin K2 as a promoter of bone and cardiovascular health. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Feb;14(1):34–39.
  5. Vitamin K Fact Sheet for Consumers. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 13 Apr 2016. Accessed 28 Jan 2019.
  6. Rosique-Esteban N, et al. Dietary magnesium and cardiovascular disease: a review with emphasis in epidemiological studies. Nutrients. 2018 Feb;10(2):168.
  7. Qu X, et al. Magnesium and the risk of cardiovascular events: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. PLoS One. 2013; 8(3):e57720.
  8. How too little potassium may contribute to cardiovascular disease. NIH Research Matters, National Institutes of Health. 24 Oct 2017. Accessed 28 Jan 2019.
  9. Potassium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 20 Aug 2018. Accessed 29 Jan 2019.
  10. Kumar A, et al. Role of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in cardiac disease, hypertension and Meniere-like syndrome. Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;124(3):259-68.
  11. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 21 Nov 2018. Accessed 31 Jan 2019.
  12. Mohebi-Nejad Z, Bikdeli B. Omega-3 supplements and cardiovascular diseases. Tanaffos. 2014;13(1):6-14.
  13. Bonnefont-Rouselot B. Resveratrol and cardiovascular diseases. Nutrients. 2016 May;8(5):250.
  14. Renes J, et al. Calorie restriction-induced changes in the secretome of human adipocytes, comparison with resveratrol-induced secretome effects. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Sep;1844(9):1511–1522.
  15. Li, Y, et al. Folic acid supplementation and the risk of cardiovascular diseases: a meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016 Aug;5(8):e003768.
  16. Folate Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Updated 7 Dec 2018. Accessed 28 Jan 2019.
  17. Toth PP, et al. Bergamot reduces plasma lipids, atherogenic small dense LDL, and subclinical atherosclerosis in subjects with moderate hypercholesterolemia: 6 months prospective study. Front Pharmacol. 2015;6:299.
  18. Tassell M, et al. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010 Jan-Jun;4(7):32–41.
  19. Kawatra P, Rajagopalan R. Cinnamon: mystic powers of a minute ingredient. Pharmacognosy Res. 2015 Jun;7(Suppl 1):S1–S6.
  20. Mashhadi NS, et al. Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr;4(Suppl 1):S36–S42.
  21. Bayan L, et al. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan-Feb;4(1):1–14.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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