Heart supplements are pills or liquids that reportedly protect patients from cardiovascular disease. Those who have high cholesterol and are at risk of suffering a heart attack may take these supplements in addition to making lifestyle changes. Heart supplements may not work for everyone, so it is best to seek a doctor’s consultation before taking them every day. Some of the most common include omega-3 oils, niacin, and red yeast rice, as well as B vitamins and coenzyme Q10.
Certain oils such as fish, algae, and flax seed reportedly lower cholesterol and improve heart health. These heart supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce inflammation within the body, and, in turn, reduce the risk of heart disease. Oil-based omega-3 heart supplements have also been known to reduce triglycerides. According to WebMD, studies note that patients who take fish oil supplements or eat oily fish such as salmon or mackerel reduce their risk of a heart attack, chest pain, and even sudden death from heart problems. Experts from Men’s Health as of 2011 recommend taking at least 1,000 mg (or 1 gram) of an omega-3 supplement every day, or eat at least two servings of fish per week.
Niacin also works as a heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering supplement. Also called nicotinic acid or vitamin B3, niacin provides the benefit of raising HDL levels, or “good” cholesterol, as well as lowering LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. To reap the benefits from niacin, as of 2011, doctors recommend taking 500 mg (0.5 g) to 2,000 mg (2 g), but dosage levels may vary depending on the patient’s tolerance for the supplement. Common side effects associated with niacin include diarrhea and hot flushes, or a sudden feeling of warmth and sweating of the face.
Another type of heart supplement, red yeast rice, comes from rice that was fermented with red yeast called Monascus purpureus. Research notes that red yeast rice lowers the bad LDL cholesterol, clearing any plaque in the arteries, helping blood flow throughout the body, and preventing heart attacks. Patients should take no more than 2,400 mg (2.4 g) of red yeast rice daily, according to WebMD as of 2011. Anything above 2,400 mg can cause liver damage.
Some heart supplements improve functions that are linked to the cardiovascular system. Folic acid, as well as vitamins B6 and B12, help maintain healthy red blood cells and nerves. Although research has not been confirmed, the B vitamins and folic acid reportedly lower homocysteine blood levels, which is an amino acid associated with strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots when elevated. Patients should work with their doctors to determine the appropriate dosage because individual results may vary.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, has also been recommended as a heart supplement that improves cardiovascular health. Patients may take CoQ10 with statins to lower bad cholesterol and, according to Men’s Health as of 2011, this heart supplement reportedly improves muscle function within the heart as well as the entire body. Other potential benefits of CoQ10 include reducing chest pain and controlling hypertension. Patients may take 100 mg (0.1 g) to 200 mg (0.2 g) of this supplement to see improvement.