HEART HEALTH, PART IV: Some Other Essential Nutrients

If you’ve been paying attention, over the past four months I’ve taken you on a journey to explore the effects of some important micronutrients on our Heart Health.  So far I’ve discussed the benefits of Cacao (notice I didn’t say Chocolate which usually has added Sugar), Coconut Oil and Fish Oil. There are other nutrients that are beneficial to Cardiovascular Health but, today, I must limit our discussion to those I consider to be the three most important.  



Let’s first talk about Grape seed extract. The British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study confirming the findings of an earlier study that Grape seed extract normalized blood pressure in many of the test subjects. Unlike pharmaceuticals, it does so without side effects while simultaneously offering other health benefits. Besides ameliorating Hypertension, it has been shown to limit and even diminish Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), contribute to the reversal of Metabolic Syndrome and lessen Type 2 Diabetes.

Grape seed extract contains flavonoid compounds (procyanidolic oligomers or oligomeric proanthocyanidins). Supplementation of 100 mg to 300 mg daily for six weeks significantly improves blood antioxidant and oxygen radical absorbance capacities. Grape seed (as well as Pine bark extract) have also been shown to be beneficial for: Visual acuity/retinopathy/macular degeneration, Varicose veins/venous insufficiency/capillary fragility, Asthma, Periodontal disease, Osteoarthritis and Menopausal symptoms.



Magnesium is another nutrient that can lower the risk of Heart disease and Stroke. It lowers systemic inflammation & C-reactive protein (CRP).  Magnesium is important to the health of the heart itself and of the arteries. Low magnesium levels can lead to abnormal heart rhythms increasing the risk of complications of a heart attack. Low magnesium levels are associated with higher blood pressure. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and the heart, after all, is a muscle.  Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity reducing risks of Type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome.

Researchers at Harvard’s School of Public Health analyzed 16 studies involving 313,041 subjects and found that higher blood levels of magnesium were associated with a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and that higher dietary intake of nuts/seeds, whole grains & vegetables equated with a 22% lower risk.

 Another similar study involved 532,979 participants and analyzed dietary magnesium intake, blood magnesium levels, or both. It was concluded that the clearest benefit was derived from increased dietary magnesium, especially from 150 mg/day to 400 mg/day.

The usual adult dosage for magnesium supplementation is 250 to 500 mg daily. (Note:  if diarrhea is also an issue, it may be necessary to take a special form of Magnesium known as Magnesium glycinate).

 Like the flavonoid compounds above, Magnesium confers additional benefit for: Asthma/COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Angina/arrhythmias/congestive heart failure/hypertension, Diabetes, Fatigue/fibromyalgia, Migraine/tension headaches, Osteoporosis, Kidney stones, Pregnancy, and PMS, to name a few.

CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is essential for Heart function not to mention other health issues.  One of my esteemed colleagues, Dr. Michael Murray, refers to it as the “spark plug” of the heart. Just as your car’s engine can’t start without a spark from your spark plugs, the heart can’t pump without CoQ10. The body makes some CoQ10 but sometimes not enough and the cholesterol lowering drugs (statins such as Lipitor, Crestor) can dramatically lower CoQ10 levels which is what leads to the body aching many complain about.

In a 5-year double-blind placebo-controlled study of healthy elderly people, researchers found that daily supplementation with a combination of 200 mg CoQ10 & 200 mcg Selenium reduced cardiovascular mortality by 46%. With any heart condition (Angina, Arrhythmias or Congestive heart failure) improving energy production to the heart muscle (myocardium) is important. The most absorbable forms of CoQ10 are Ubiquinol or emulsified Ubiquinone in a usual recommended dose of 100 mg 1-3 x day, depending upon the seriousness of the condition.

There are other important nutrients for the Heart such as Taurine, Carnitine, Pantethine, Lycopene, and Thiamine that I’ll reserve for a future discussion.   Until then, eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise, have lots of fun, and consider supplementation with Grape seed extract, Magnesium +/or CoQ10 !

My sincere thanks to all those who have so closely followed this series!  Your comments and suggestions have been particularly impressive and very useful.  Remember, you decide the topics of interest for my Blogposts so keep your letters coming! It's so gratifying to know that you are being very pro-active in your Healthcare and diligently studying the most current information available to stay well-informed.  Kudos!

If you have concerns or questions about your particular risk of cardiovascular disease, please feel free to contact me for an appointment to review your situation.  Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July holiday!