Supplements can help your bones, your muscles, and many other parts of your body. What about your heart? Research shows that some of them may help lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and other things that put you at risk for heart disease. It's unclear, though, if they help prevent heart attacks, strokes, and other problems.
Here are six nutrients that can be a good addition to your heart-healthy lifestyle.
Most of the cells in your body contain carnitine, which your liver and kidneys make. Carnitine helps your cells produce energy. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) is a form of carnitine that's available as a supplement.
Fiber. Found naturally in fruits, grains, vegetables, and legumes, fiber cuts down the amount of cholesterol your body soaks up from food. Try to get at least 25 to 30 grams of it every day. Men less than age 51 should aim for 38 grams a day. It’s best to get your daily dose from your diet, but supplements are another option. There's good evidence that blond psyllium husk -- common in fiber supplements -- can lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. It can also raise the “good” kind, HDL. Other fiber supplements include methylcellulose, wheat dextrin, and calcium polycarbophil.. If you take a fiber supplement, increase the amount you take slowly. This can help prevent gas and cramping. It’s also important to drink enough liquids when you increase your fiber intake.
Sterols and stanols. Find these in foods like nuts and grains, or you can buy them as supplements. They reduce the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs from food. They're also added to many foods, such as some margarines, orange juice, and yogurts. Experts recommend 2 grams a day to help lower LDL cholesterol.
Other Supplements That May Offer Benefits
Coenzyme Q10 ( CoQ10 ). Your body naturally makes small amounts of this enzyme, also known as ubiquinone and ubiquinol. As a supplement, CoQ10 may help lower blood pressure, either on its own or along with medications. Other studies have found that adding it to heart failure drugs may help people feel better day to day.
CoQ10 pills are also popular as a treatment for the side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. Why? These meds can sometimes lower the amount of CoQ10 the body makes on its own. Some doctors suggest adding a CoQ10 supplement to make up for the loss, hoping it will relieve problems like muscle pain and weakness. But study results have been mixed.