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Green Tea Extract for Heart Health

Green tea extract is made from the dried leaves of Camellia sinensis, a perennial evergreen shrub. Green tea is a staple in Chinese traditional medicine.

This supplement is one of Guarneri's favorites and is shown to decrease LDL by 16%. She advises 375 milligrams of theaflavin-enriched green tea extract daily.

B Vitamins: B-6 (pyridoxine), B-12, and Folic Acid for Heart Health

B-complex vitamins, including folic acid, help keep nerves and red blood cells healthy. They may also lower blood levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that’s possibly linked to heart disease, blood clots, heart attack, and strokes.

However, in May 2008, a study of more than 5,000 women at high risk of heart disease showed that daily folic acid, vitamin B-6, and B-12 supplementation did not reduce the rate of heart attacks, despite lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine. The study appears in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“I’m not ready to throw out B-vitamins yet for heart patients. That is still controversial. It’s important to remember that B vitamins are not just for cardiac issues,” Guarneri says.

“The bigger issue is inflammation associated with high homocysteine levels. Lowering homocysteine may help the heart, but it is also necessary to prevent osteoporosis and cognitive decline.”

She also says it’s important to get the right dosage of B-vitamins – either from a naturopathic doctor or another physician who understands the complexity of lowering homocysteine with B-vitamins.

More studies are needed to fully understand the link between homocysteine and vitamin supplements, researchers say.

Coenzyme Q10 for Heart Health

Coenzyme Q10 is produced by the body and is necessary for basic cell functioning. Small studies have suggested that CoQ10 may reduce chest pain (angina). For people with clogged arteries, CoQ10 may make exercise easier.

Guarneri recommends CoQ10 supplements for patients taking statin drugs for high cholesterol; it may help to prevent the muscle pains or liver damage that occurs in some people taking statin drugs, though the research on this connection isn’t definitive. Some researchers believe that statins may block the natural formation of CoQ10 in muscle cells, which could contribute to heart muscle damage. Again, the evidence on this isn’t clear. A 2008 Canadian study showed that statins did not significantly reduce tissue concentrations of CoQ10.

Policosanol for Heart Health

Policosanol is a natural plant mixture used to lower cholesterol. Studies have shown policosanol helps reduce LDL cholesterol.

An analysis of 52 studies found that taking policosanol reduced LDL cholesterol by 24%; taking plant sterols reduced LDL by 10%. Policosanol also improved total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels more favorably than plant sterols.

Guarneri, however, is not a big fan of policosanol. No large studies of policosanol have been conducted in the United States.

A cautionary note: Don't take policosanol if you're taking blood thinners or drugs that lower cholesterol. Talk to your doctor first.

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