• Many claims about dietary supplements are exaggerated or even wrong.
• Researchers say that only 3 supplements can help your heart: red rice yeast, coenzyme Q10 and omega-3 fatty acids
• There is currently insufficient evidence that vitamins and minerals are beneficial for your heart.
Over the years, you've probably seen more than a few dietary supplement ads while browsing your social media feed. Ads that are claiming a product can help you lose weight, improve heart health or make your skin clearer.
However, experts say that many of these claims are often exaggerated or in some cases completely false.
But when your heart health is concerned, a report published in the Methodist DeBakey Cardiovascular Journal claims that these three supplements are most likely to help.
1. Omega-3 fatty acids
Authors of the 2019 report, claim that "convincing evidence" exists for the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
The first of the studies examined omega-3 fatty acid esters (O3AEE).
O3AEE is a prescription version of omega-3 fatty acids. It is FDA approved for the treatment of high triglycerides.
The researchers found that this resulted in a 28 percent reduced risk of heart attacks, a 50 percent reduced risk of death caused from a heart attack, and a 17 percent reduced risk of overall coronary heart disease events.
Study participants used 1 gram of O3AEE per day, which gives 840 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA.
In the second study, cardiovascular death was reduced by 19 percent.
Participants in this study also used a dose of 840 mg EPA and DHA.
Finally, in the third study, there was a 24 percent decrease in key cardiovascular events.
Participants in this study were also using a statin drug and had high triglyceride levels.
They took a dose of 4 grams of EPA a day.
Omega-3 fatty acids come often as supplements by over-the-counter fish oil preparations (OTC) and also by eating fatty fish like mackerel and salmon.
Nevertheless, Dr. Ragavendra Baliga, cardiologist at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, warns before increasing the amount of fish in your diet that mercury contamination can sometimes be a problem with both OTC fish oil supplements and fresh fish.
However, prescription fish oil does not have this problem.
2. CoQ10 – (Coenzyme Q10)
Several studies have examined the use of coenzyme Q10, for two conditions primarily: congestive heart failure and statin-associated myopathy syndrome (SAMS).
Coenzyme Q10 for SAMS
SAMS is a condition that people who are using statins to lower their cholesterol often experience.
People who have SAMS may experience symptoms such as cramps, muscle aches, muscle weakness, and, rarely, rhabdomyolysis (injury and death of muscle tissue).
Clinical trials that deal with the use of coenzyme Q10 for SAMS have given conflicting results.
However, the largest and most recent study that deals with this topic suggests that it’s effective in the treatment and prevention of SAMS.
A lot of anecdotal reports from patients also supports its use.
Although a well-established dose for coenzyme Q10 doesn’t exist, on average, 200 mg taken twice daily with meals gives a therapeutic blood level of >2.5 mcg/mL.
Doses between 100 and 400 mg have been used in most heart-related clinical trials.
Coenzyme Q10 for heart failure
Congestive heart failure is a condition in which the heart doesn’t pump blood as it should.
People with the condition can have symptoms such as:
- Chest pain
- Concentration problems
- Loss of appetite
- Increased urination
- Pink-tinged phlegm
- Irregular heartbeat
- Fluid retention
- Difficulty breathing
People with heart failure also have a lack of coenzyme Q10 in their heart muscle tissue and blood.
Because Coenzyme Q10 increases cellular energy and ATP production, it should theoretically help with heart failure.
Probably the strongest evidence of coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of heart failure is the Trusted Source Q-SYMBIO study.
During the two-year study, participants received 100 mg of coenzyme Q10 three times a day.
After taking the supplement for two years, the results were reported as "impressive".
There were 43 percent fewer serious adverse cardiac events in the treated group than in the placebo group.
There was also a significant improvement in symptom severity.
An improvement in the ejection fraction was observed in those with a baseline of 30 percent, although not in those below this number.
Both Baliga and Dr. Satjit Bhusri, assistant professor of cardiology at the Zucker School of Medicine in Hofstra / Northwell, cites coenzyme Q10 as one of the supplements that they recommend to their patients.
Both Bhusri and Baliga note that dealing with this supplement in the studies has resulted differently.
Bhusri, however, points out that there hasn’t been a negative impact.
3. Red rice yeast
Among the risk factors for heart disease that can be changed, a high total cholesterol level and a high LDL (bad cholesterol) value are the most important factors for the development of coronary heart disease.
Doctors use prescription drugs called statins in general, to improve the cholesterol levels of a person and reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, red rice yeast is a supplement that can lower high cholesterol.
Red rice yeast contains a substance called monacolin K.
Monacolin K has the same chemical structure as the prescription statin lovastatin, even though the pharmacokinetic profiles and bioavailability are slightly different.
When used daily, Monacolin K can lower LDL cholesterol by 15 to 25 percent within 6 to 8 weeks. It can also lower total cholesterol.
Taking Monacolin K in doses of 3 to 10 mg poses little risk compared to prescription statins.
It is considered a safe and effective supplement for people with a mild to moderate increase in cholesterol and without other risk factors for heart disease.
However, Baliga notes that red rice yeast supplements would have the same precautions that apply to prescription statins.
Supplements that claim to help but actually do not work
About half of the adult US population is said to use various vitamins and minerals in hopes of preventing or helping heart disease.
However, when examining the medical literature on multivitamins and minerals, folic acid, vitamin E, niacin, beta carotene, multivitamins and multiminerals, antioxidants, no real benefits in preventing or treating heart disease were found.
Although a lot of data suggests that low serum vitamin D levels appear to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, recent studies have not confirmed that this supplement is useful.
However, Bhusri says he recommends it to his patients.
He points to recent studies in which people who have a deficiency and use prescription vitamin D have shown improvement.
A vitamin D deficiency can easily be demonstrated with a blood test, says Bhusri.
To sum up
Even though dietary supplements claim to be beneficial, they do not offer any noticeable health benefits.
However, researchers say three supplements improve heart health: omega-3 fatty acids, coenzyme Q10, and red rice yeast.
Although these are generally considered safe, some minor risks should be taken under consideration.
Before you start taking a nutritional supplement, talk to your doctor and make sure that the product you are considering is suitable for you.
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