Nutrients for A Healthy Heart Muscle

Coenzyme Q10 – The antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) functions as a coenzyme in the energy-producing pathways of every cell in the body and is an important antioxidant that will fight the oxidation that creates free radicals as well as the oxidation of LDL and other lipids. CoQ10 is found in many foods, such as broccoli, Chinese cabbage, spinach, raw nuts, ocean fish and shellfish, pork, chicken, and beef. However, in a normal diet, we only get 2-5 mg of this important vitamin-like compound, so it is wise to add it in supplement form as well.

CoQ10 is one of the best “electron donors” that gives its electrons freely to electron-deficient free radicals rendering them harmless. It also restores oxidized vitamin E into a useful form. By given electrons to vitamin E – which, as you recall, is another important antioxidant – it “recycles” vitamin E to get it back into the free radical fight once again. In this way, when supplements of vitamin E and CoQ10 are combined, LDL becomes more resistant to oxidation than when you take vitamin E alone. This combination has also been shown to reduce C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in laboratory animals. However, CoQ10’s most important function is probably within the mitochondria that facilitate the cycle of ATP to ADP to ATP – and so on – which is so crucial to the health of every cell and particularly important in the cells of the heart muscle.

When you take CoQ10 as a supplement, pay attention to what form it comes in. research has shown that since it is such a large molecule, it is hard to absorb. The best form to take it in is ubiquinol, which is the active form. As many as 30 percent of Japanese have a defective NQ01 gene that regulates coenzyme Q10 from the inactive ubiquinone to the active ubiquinol. Also, as you age, the conversion process slows down. For basic health, take the recommendation of 100 mg of ubiquinol a day. Also check the CoQ10 blood level and adjust the dose accordingly.

L-carnitine: Another “transport” molecule that helps in mitochondrial energy generation is L-carnitine, which facilitates moving long-chain fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membrane to catalyze beta-oxidation, a process by which the fat is broken down so it can be burned as fuel and turned into energy. L-carnitine is one of the most easily used amino acids in our bodies and is also a precursor of nitric oxide and other metabolites. These fatty acids must be brought through the mitochondrial membrane to be processed in this way, and L-carnitine is the only carrier molecule that can do this. Thus the higher the level of L-carnitine in your system, the greater the rate of energy metabolism, and the lower the level, the more difficult it is to generate sufficient energy. Since the heart gets at least 60 percent of its fuel from such fat sources, L-carnitine is crucial to heart health and improving congestive heart failure.
L-carnitine is found in protein-rich foods such as peanuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, coconut, milk and milk products, pork, beef, chicken, turkey, seafood, oats, wheat, and chocolate. However, with age, through genetic defects or eating carnitine-deficient diets (such as pure vegetarians often do), deficiencies of other vitamins and minerals important to L-carnitine, liver or kidney disease, and the use of certain prescription drugs are all associated with our bodies having insufficient levels of L-carnitine; therefore, supplementation is vital. L-carnitine should be supplemented in a dose of 500 mg, three times a day.

D-ribose is a simple five-carbon sugar found in every cell of the body. It is different from other sugars, such as glucose (a six-carbon sugar) because it both provides and sustains energy, especially in weakened hearts. D-ribose provides tremendous support to the mitochondria in assisting the mitochondria to product ATP, or the heart’s energy currency.

D-ribose is naturally present in some meats, but only in trace amounts so small it does not really make any meaningful impact on our bodies. Cells synthesize D-ribose is the best way to provide it within your body because it is easily absorbed and put to work.

The following daily dosages are recommended for the following concerns, however, you still need to check with your doctor before taking these suggestions:

• As a daily preventative of cardiovascular disease or those who exercise strenuously on a regular basis: 5-7 g a day (5 g is equivalent to 2 teaspoons)
• For someone with milk to moderate congestive heart failure, recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery, treatment of angina, or those with other significant vascular concerns: 7 – 10 g a day in divided doses
• For advanced congestive heart failure, dilated cardiomyopathy, frequent angina, and those awaiting heart transplants or suffering from fibromyalgia: 10 – 15 g a day in divided doses

Magnesium is a wonderful mineral for the heart and cardiovascular system across the board. If you’re suffering with congestive heart failure or arrhythmia, magnesium should be a significant help to you. In fact, magnesium deficiency is very common in those who have congestive heart failure. Studies show that as many as half of Americans lack the magnesium they should have, oddly enough roughly the same number that have cardiovascular complications.

Magnesium is present in nuts, grains, beans, and dark green vegetables. Alcohol and caffeine consumption encourage the excretion of magnesium. Certain conventional drugs for treating congestive heart failure, such as Lanoxin and various diuretics, may also deplete magnesium levels.

All individuals who have experienced congestive heart failure should take a magnesium supplement. It is also beneficial in treating arrhythmia, including atrial fibrillation, PVCs, and symptoms of mitral valve prolapse.

Testosterone supplementation is also very important for all people with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). There are more testosterone receptors in cardiac muscle than any other muscles in the body. Testosterone will also help strengthen the heart muscle. Heavy metal detoxification, chelation therapy, and an infrared sauna are also very important for people with CHF. People with CHF many times have very high mercury, lead, and/or cadmium levels in their cardiac muscle, and their heavy metals are poisoning their mitochondria or their energy producing structures in the cell. It is also recommended to take omega-3 fats and glutathione-boosting supplements for patients with congestive heart failure.

Fatty Acids

Many people regard fat as an adversary to their good health. It is true that excessive intake of certain fats can result in serious medical problems. However, not all fats are the same. In fact, your body requires certain fatty acids – a major component of fats – to maintain health and prevent disease. Fats are also an important source of energy and help your body perform a variety of functions. Recognizing the difference between “good” and “bad” fats is crucial as you strive to achieve optimal health.

There are several different types of fats. Saturated fats are “bad” fats because they can raise cholesterol levels and cause unhealthy weight gain. They are primarily found in foods that come from animals, including fatty meats (such as beef and pork) and dairy products (such as whole milk and butter), and are usually solids at room temperature.

Unsaturated fats primarily come from vegetable foods and tend to be liquids at room temperature. They consist of polyunsaturated fats and monounsatured fats, both of which are “good” fats. Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in corn, soybean, and safflower oils, can positively affect your body by lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol. However, they can also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats, on the other hand, lower LDL cholesterol but do not affect HDL cholesterol. Yet, the impact made on LDL cholesterol is usually minor. Monousaturated fats are found in olive oil and canola oil.

Production of most fatty acids occurs within your body from the breakdown of fat molecules, but there are two important polyunsaturated fatty acids – omega-3 and omega-6 that cannot be manufactured in your body and must be provided through diet or taken as supplements. Therefore, although certain low-fat diets can be healthier than diet high in fat, a major shift in food consumption to a low-fat diet may deprive your body of these essential nutrients. These two “good” fats are termed essential fatty acids (EFAs).

Trans fatty acids are another type of unsaturated fat. In nature, they occur only in small dosages that don’t have negative effects on your body. However, the food industry has started producing this type of fatty to help food stay fresh longer. Manufactured trans fatty acids are very unhealthy “bad” fats. There are even mandates against their use in Europe – but in the United States, they can be found in baked goods, breads, candies, chocolate, frozen dinners, and processed meats.

It is also important to continue your intake of the vitamins and minerals. Your body requires vitamin A, the B vitamins, vitamin C, biotin, magnesium, niacin, zinc, and other nutrients to convert fatty acids into usable hormones. Protein is necessary as well. Proper intake of these nutrients as well as good fats will contribute to your good health.

However, alcohol, stress, and certain medications can cause your body to use these fatty acids incorrectly. At the same time, intake of fatty acids may change the amount of medication you need. For example, increased fatty acid intake may result in your needing less Prozac or insulin. Your healthcare provider can provide you with the knowledge you need to make this decision. Similarly, consult your doctor about your fatty acid consumption if you are taking a blood thinner. Some fatty acids have major effects on your blood’s ability to clot.

Instead of the complete elimination of fat from your diet, you need to eat less “bad” fats while adding more “good” fats to your eating and nutrient supplementation programs.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that is found in your bloodstream and carried through your body in lipoprotein particles. It is both made by your body and consumed in animal foods. Although needed by your body, the intake of too much cholesterol can clog your arteries, resulting in your heart receiving less blood and oxygen. This can cause serious cardiovascular problems.

There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is known as the “bad” (or “lousy”) cholesterol because it can form as plaque along your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. HDL, on the other hand, is the “good” (or “happy”) cholesterol. Its main job is to collect, breakdown, and excrete the LDL that is already in your body.

Therefore, your goal for optimal health should include a low LDL count and a high HDL count. Your doctor will be able to test your cholesterol levels from a blood sample. Ideally, your total cholesterol (LDL plus HDL) should be under 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and your HDL should be over 40 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). If it is not, your doctor may need to run further tests.

If your cholesterol is high or has a sudden increase, you may wish to change your dietary habits. Although a portion of your cholesterol levels is due to heredity, limiting your intake of “bad” cholesterol while increasing exercise to elevate “good” cholesterol are important steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease. There are suggestions of vitamins and other nutrients that can help improve your cholesterol levels from health professionals.

Soy protein, with intact genistein and daidzein, significantly decreased LDL cholesterol 30% to 40% and significantly increased HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol ratios by 15%.

Health Benefits of EFAs

Cardiovascular Health

Research shows that omega-3 fats can lower blood pressure, decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and other vascular disorders. When heart attacks do happen, omega-3 fatty acids may make them less severe.

Omega-3s reduce the risk or severity of heart disease by influencing several factors, including blood clotting and blood pressure. There is also mounting evidence that omega-3s can protect the heart against arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which can be fatal. According to the American Heart Association, arrhythmias are responsible for more than 780,000 hospitalizations per year.

In August 2003, an article in the European Journal of Medical Research reported that omega-3 fatty acid could reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death in as little as 90 days. The fatty acids were reported to be as effective as aspirin and statins in reducing the risks of sudden death from heart disease. They only treatment that proved more effective than omega-3 fatty acids was the use of beta-blockers, but even patients taking beta-blockers benefited from the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.

In 2004, the FDA recognized the health benefits of EFAs by approving a qualified health claim for products containing omega-3 fatty acids. Food and supplement companies can now state on the product label that EPA and DHA fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

Also in 2004, a team of researchers wrote an article in Preventive Medicine proposing the “Omega-3 Index”, which they defined as the red blood cell composition of EPA and DHA. According to the authors, the Omega-3 Index is a reflection of long-term omega-3 intake and is a simple indicator of CHD risk.

Arthritis

Most studies on the antiarthritic effects of EFAs focus on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and stiffness. In 1995, a meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology reveled that taking fish oil supplements for at least three months resulted in modest but significant improvement in joint tenderness and morning stiffness. In 1996, a population-based study published in Epidemiology suggested that omega-3 fatty acids help prevent rheumatoid arthritis. The study’s authors reported that women who ate two or more servings of broiled or baked fish per week had about half the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis as women who ate less than one serving per week.

Cancer and Other Conditions

Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent and treat certain cancers. A meta-analysis published in 2007 reported that fish consumption could provide a slight reduction in colorectal cancer risk. The same year, researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University conducted a large-scale study on fatty acids and breast cancer in Shanghai, China. They found that omega-3 fatty acids provided a protective effect against breast cancer. Also in 2007, researchers investigated the effects of fatty acids on prostate cancer risk in genetically predisposed mice and found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced prostate tumor growth, while omega-6 fatty acids did the opposite.

There are other uses for omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers are looking into the links between fish oil and childhood asthma, healthier pregnancies (and healthier infants), improved bone growth, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and lengthened remission time for patients in prolonged remission from Crohn’s disease. Some experts also believe that essential fatty acids help lower the risk and severity of depression.

USANA Vitamins BiOmega is a fish oil supplement manufactured by USANA Health Sciences that’s easy to take every day, especially when you don’t feel like you’re getting enough fish in your diet.