As people celebrate Valentine’s Day we can turn our attention on American Heart Month.
Since 1963, Congress has required the president to declare February “American Heart
Month”. The goal is to raise funds for research and education to focus on cardiovascular
disease as the #1 cause of death in the U.S.
When we think of circulatory health we want to focus on the entire cardiovascular system.
The cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and blood vessels. The heart pumps
blood containing oxygen and nutrients through vessels to organs in the body and in turn
removes carbon dioxide and waste products.
The heart is constantly pumping blood at a rate of roughly 100,000 beats per day.
Therefore, it is important to focus on supplements that can help maximize the strength
and performance of this organ. Supplements like Coenzyme Q10 can support energy
production in heart muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and krill oils can promote
the healthy flow of blood within the arteries and veins. Arginine can help relax the blood
vessels to further promote healthy circulation of blood. Hawthorn can improve heart
function and B-vitamins can protect it. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients.
Coenzyme Q10 is found in high concentrations in the mitochondria (powerhouse) of cells.
Heart muscle cells are particularly rich in Coenzyme Q10. People with congestive heart
failure have lower levels of Coenzyme Q10 in their heart muscles and can increase the
output of the heart by supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 (1). There is also substantial
evidence that shows supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 can have a favorable effect on
both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (2). While it is clear that Coenzyme Q10 aids
heart function, it is poorly absorbed from the diet. A blend of conjugated linoleic acid,
flax seed oil, and soybean oil can aid the absorption of this nutrient. This is extremely
important because these healthy fats aid the uptake of Coenzyme Q10 in the intestine (3).
A 50 mg dose maximizes absorption.(4)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids found in fish oil and in krill oil. These
essential fatty acids are not produced by the body and have an abundance of health
benefits in the circulatory system. They reduce inflammation caused by free radicals
which can lead to hardening or thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) (5). They also
play a role in preventing blood clot formation and can promote healthy cholesterol levels
in the blood. Supplementing with fish or krill oil is important because the American diet
greatly lacks these essential fatty acids. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) should also be added
to the diet. Vitamin K2 prevents the calcification of arteries and protects against heart
disease (6,7). Krill oil is also rich in phospholipids which are found in cell membranes.
This form of omega-3 fatty acids appears to be better absorbed by the body and has a
more pronounced effect on cholesterol levels (8). Krill oil also contains astaxanthin
which is an antioxidant red/orange carotenoid pigment naturally produced by the krill.
Arginine is an amino acid that is important for circulatory system health. In circulatory
tissues, arginine is converted to nitric oxide which has a relaxing effect on the interior
lining of blood vessels and helps promote healthy blood pressure. Arginine also reduces
platelet adhesion which further promotes healthy blood circulation (9).
Hawthorn has traditionally been used to support the circulatory system. It has been shown
to increase the strength of contractions in the heart and to increase the output volume of
each contraction (10).
B-6 (Pyridoxine), B-12 (cyanocobalamin) and folate help to lower
homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels are considered a strong indicator of
heart disease risk. The final important ingredient is resveratrol, a potent antioxidant.
Cardiovascular tissues endure a great exposure to oxygen and free radicals. Free radicals
enter the blood from the air we breathe and from the foods we eat. Supplementing the
diet with high potency antioxidants like resveratrol can not only neutralize these harmful
free radicals but can also preserve good health and longevity (11).