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How Functional Foods May Help Your Heart

5. Vitamin D

As with calcium, most of us don't get enough vitamin D. It's often added to milk, yogurt, and cheese. You can also find vitamin D-enriched juices, cereals, and margarine.

Here's how vitamin D helps body and heart health:

  • Vitamin D may prevent high blood pressure and artery damage.
  • Vitamin D helps keep the immune system strong.
  • It may help prevent depression.
  • And vitamin D helps maintain healthy bones.

Although too little vitamin D can be linked to a raised risk of stroke, heart disease, and heart failure, the jury is out on exactly how vitamin D affects the heart, says Washington dietitian Kerry Neville. Most adults need 600 international units of vitamin D daily.

Remember, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and keeping up on routine exams are the cornerstones of heart health. If you think you need help in any of those areas, talk to your doctor for tips on which nutrients you need and how best to get them.

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Reviewed on February 25, 2014

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