Is Taking Supplements OK When You Have AFib?

Medically Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on September 01, 2023
3 min read

Looking for ways to avoid atrial fibrillation episodes and keep your heart in normal rhythm? What about preventing other heart problems that are linked to AFib, such as a greater chance of stroke or heart failure?

Taking supplements and vitamins could be one part of the plan to boost your heart health. There's no substitute for getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs from foods, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. But if you're eating healthy and still short on certain nutrients, some supplements may help.

Talk to your doctor about which ones could be good for you before you start taking anything new, to make sure you don't cause problems with your medication.

This mineral helps keep your heart rhythm steady. When you don't have enough of it in your body, you may have an irregular heartbeat.

Studies suggest magnesium supplements may also help lower blood pressure slightly. Other research has shown that getting magnesium through an IV may help control AFib for some people in the hospital.

But if you take digoxin to help control your heart rate, magnesium supplements may interfere with how it gets absorbed by your body so the medicine won't work as well.

It's an antioxidant that your body makes, and your cells won't work properly without it. CoQ10 levels go down as you get older. It may be low in people with heart problems.

In one Chinese study, people with heart failure who took CoQ10 along with their regular meds had fewer episodes of AFib after 12 months. There's also science that suggests taking CoQ10 may help people with heart failure feel better. It may also help lower high blood pressure.

Even though CoQ10 supplements are safe for most people, it can make the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) less effective, which could raise the risk of getting clots.

Early research shows the extract of a mixture of five different Chinese herbs may help treat occasional, or paroxysmal, AFib.

But some people in those studies had problems when they took it, so more testing is needed. Definitely check with your doctor before you try this supplement.

Fish oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acids. There’s strong evidence that taking omega-3s can cut down levels of fats called triglycerides in your blood and lower blood pressure.
Still, a 2021 study found that fish oil may have an effect on irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) and specifically AFib. 

At lower doses, the risk of developing AFib was slight, but the risk was greater in the higher dose groups.

The best way to get omega-3s is to eat at least two servings of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna every week. If you have heart disease or high triglycerides, your doctor may suggest you take a fish oil supplement.

Psyllium, a form of fiber in many supplements, can help lower both "bad" LDL cholesterol and your total cholesterol levels. Controlling your cholesterol can help you avoid other health problems related to AFib.

Women should try to get about 25 grams of fiber per day; men should aim for 38 grams.

Because these plant compounds are similar to cholesterol, they compete with it so your body doesn't absorb as much from food.

Experts recommend getting 2 grams of phytosterols every day to help lower "bad" cholesterol levels in your blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol make strokes more likely.

You can find small amounts of phytosterols in nuts and legumes, whole grains, and vegetables and fruits. They're added to some brands of margarine spreads and orange juice. Or you can get plant sterols and stanols in a supplement.

If you're on the blood thinner warfarin, you probably already know that supplements (and food) with vitamin K may make the medicine not work as well. Check multivitamin labels to make sure you're not taking it accidentally.