Unlock the secrets of optimal heart health with the best vitamins for heart and circulation. Discover expert tips for a resilient cardiovascular system.
- Several factors contribute to a healthy heart, including exercise, managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, and maintaining a healthy weight.
- Diet is also an important factor for heart health, and certain vitamins and minerals can be beneficial.
- Some of the most important vitamins for heart health include vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium.
We all know just how fundamental our heart and circulatory system is. However, it’s often easy to take our heart health for granted which can lead to an increased risk of future health issues. Here I will explore the importance of vitamins for cardiovascular health, and share how you can make sure you are supporting your heart health as you age.
To have a healthy heart we need to consider several different factors. We need to ensure we are getting sufficient cardiovascular exercise to keep our heart pumping well. We also need to make sure we are managing factors that can impact our heart health such as our blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood triglycerides, and our blood glucose levels.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also of the utmost importance to avoid putting excessive strain on our cardiovascular system. Stress management is also important as this can reduce some of the harmful habits that may detrimentally impact our heart health – such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.
Equally importantly, we need to prioritize nutrient-dense diets that will support our heart health and reduce our risk of heart-related issues. It’s important to remember that when we improve our heart health we are also improving our general health as we can increase our stamina, whilst reducing our risk of other associated issues such as stroke. There’s also a strong link between the health of our heart and our risk of getting vascular dementia and other cognitive impairments. (Source)
Understanding Heart Health And Circulation
Our heart performs an essential job of circulating fresh oxygenated blood around the body to the tissues and cells. Daily your heart can beat up to 100,000 times. This ensures a continual fresh blood flow is transported around your body by a network of blood vessels that comprises your circulatory system.
This delivery of fresh blood is not only providing oxygen but also key nutrients that are required for your organs and muscles to function well.
Your heart is split into a right and left side, and each side contains an upper and lower chamber. Your body will send blood that has had oxygen removed to the right side of your heart which is then pumped into your lungs to be re-oxygenated. Once the blood is freshly oxygenated the left side of your heart will send this blood back around your body to deliver the key nutrients where they are needed.
Unfortunately, coronary artery diseases and other cardiovascular diseases are very common in the modern world. You might tend to think of a heart condition such as a heart attack however there are many other forms of cardiovascular disease.
These include congenital heart diseases which are birth defects affecting the healthy development and functioning of the heart muscle, Coronary heart disease is also common and occurs when you have an issue with the blood vessels surrounding the heart. Other issues include heart failure, heart arrhythmias, and acute heart events such as heart attacks and strokes caused by blockages preventing the free flow of blood to the heart or brain.
Some risk factors for cardiovascular disease can’t be changed these include your age and your sex. Luckily however there is a lot you can do to improve your heart health by making sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes and improvements to your nutritional intake.
Reducing smoking, and alcohol consumption, and increasing physical activity are also ways of modulating your heart disease risk factors. Some women may require HRT following menopause to reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Diet is a really important and modifiable risk factor for heart disease. First of all, obesity increases your risk of heart disease due to additional strain on the body and an increased level of inflammatory cytokines which may negatively impact your heart health. Similarly having elevated blood glucose levels or insulin resistance can strain your heart by damaging small blood vessels in the body.
We also know that good nutrition can reduce risk factors of heart disease such as high blood pressure and certain foods can also reduce harmful inflammation in the body that may be linked to heart disease. In general, having a high-fiber diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is key. As is reducing your intake of trans fats, deep-fried foods, and highly processed foods as these may increase your risk of coronary disease.
It’s also important to consume vitamins that are essential for heart health and circulation. Below I will discuss some of the most important vitamins for maintaining heart health.
Best Vitamins For Heart Health
We generally associate vitamin D with its ability to keep our bones and teeth strong. However, emerging evidence shows it may have a role in everything from our immune system to our mood. Vitamin D may also have a preventative role against cardiovascular disease.
Studies looking at levels of vitamin D and cardiovascular events found an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and increased incidence of heart disease, strokes, and high blood pressure. (Source)
While more evidence is needed to establish why vitamin D is so great at preventing cardiovascular disease, vitamin D may reduce harmful inflammation that can contribute to heart disease. It can also lower blood pressure which again can raise your risk of cardiac problems. Vitamin D even has a role in improving insulin sensitivity and as we know raised blood glucose levels are negatively linked to heart health.
Unfortunately, many people do not get sufficient intake of vitamin D due to spending a lot of time indoors, being afraid of sun exposure, or being in the northern hemisphere during the winter. So it’s very important to supplement between October to March and if you spend a lot of time indoors throughout the year you may need to consider year-round supplementation.
Ideally, aim to take the D3 form of the vitamin as this is best absorbed, however, vitamin D2 can also increase your vitamin D levels especially if you are following a plant-based diet.
Only a few people are familiar with the role of vitamin K, however, it plays a key function in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. This is because vitamin K2 helps with the integration of calcium into the bones. (Source)
Vitamin K works in tandem with vitamin D. Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium from the diet which is brilliant for bone health and reduces the risk of osteoporosis, particularly in postmenopausal women.
However, taking a vitamin D supplement without taking a vitamin K supplement may risk heart health issues. This is because a build-up of calcium can negatively affect the arteries around the heart promoting heart disease. so the best combination is a vitamin D3 supplement alongside a K2 supplement to ensure that the increased calcium is channeled into the bones rather than left to circulate the blood risking heart health issues.
You can find vitamin K2 in a variety of foods such as eggs and beef as well as some fermented foods. However many people fail to get sufficient intake, so it’s a good idea to supplement with K2, especially when you are also supplementing with vitamin D as this increases calcium absorption.
Vitamin B Complex (B6, B9, B12)
B vitamins are worth considering when aiming to improve heart health. Studies have shown a positive association between B vitamin intake and reduced risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. One of the hypothesized reasons for this association is B vitamin’s ability to reduce your homocysteine levels. (Source)
People with high homocysteine levels appear to be at an increased risk of heart disease. This is because high levels of homocysteine may damage your arteries and increase your risk of blood clots which can be implicated in stroke risk too.
So ensuring a good intake of vitamins B6, B9, and B12 may help to keep your homocysteine levels in check and reduce your associated risk of both heart attack and stroke.
In terms of vitamin B12 intake, you can only get this from animal products therefore it’s essential for those following an exclusively plant-based diet to supplement with B12. This is because not only can low levels of B12 increase your risk of heart disease but may also contribute to permanent nerve damage and other severe side effects.
You can also find other B vitamins in milk, eggs, fortified cereals, meats, fish, and, some whole grains.
Best Heart Supplements
Antioxidant Vitamins (Vitamins C And E)
Some vitamins such as vitamins C and E also act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect the body against cellular damage which can contribute to chronic disease states such as heart disease, cancer, and dementia.
Vitamin C in particular has been shown to reduce blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production within the blood vessels which allows the vessels to relax and reduce blood pressure. (Source)
Vitamin C can also support the health of the blood vessels and may reduce atherosclerosis and the development or detachment of plaques within the artery.
Whilst vitamin C doesn’t lower your cholesterol levels and doesn’t appear to directly reduce your risk of heart attack, its role in blood vessel health makes it an important asset for your cardiovascular system as a whole.
You can obtain vitamin C through food such as red peppers, kiwi fruits, strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables. Many multivitamin and super greens blends will include vitamin C as it is such a potent antioxidant – helping to improve immune system function, heart health, and inflammation.
Vitamin E is another important micronutrient in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. It has antioxidant properties which may reduce cellular damage and improve cholesterol levels. Vitamin E is found in foods such as almonds, avocados, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
How To Incorporate Heart-Healthy Vitamins Into Your Diet
It can be difficult to ensure that you are getting the full range of heart-healthy vitamins into your diet daily. This is because many of us live busy lives and find it hard to cook from scratch every day. Similarly, due to soil mineral depletion, we are now not getting such a high level of nutrients even when we eat a wide range of fresh vegetables and fruits.
Our busy lives are usually stressful, which can further deplete our nutrient stores. Gut health issues and malabsorption may in turn raise our risk of deficiency. For this reason, we can end up with a nutrient gap. This is when the amount of nutrients we consume and the amount we need for optimal health differ.
In an ideal world, we would consume a wide range of nutrients from whole foods. However, there is a clear role for supplementation due to the reasons mentioned above. So whilst it’s always important to prioritize a nutrient-dense diet it’s good to be realistic and consider supplementation as an insurance policy against nutrient gaps and deficiency.
Following a Mediterranean-style diet is considered a great way of increasing your heart health. This is because such diets tend to be abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, low in saturated fats and sugar, and high in heart-healthy fiber and plant-based nutrients. (Source)
With this dietary pattern, you would consume foods such as red meat or chicken sparingly, with a focus on beans legumes vegetables whole grains, and anti-inflammatory olive oil. Small amounts of red wine are consumed, and ultra-processed foods are minimal.
This lifestyle also promotes safe sun exposure which can encourage optimal vitamin D levels. Physical activity and daily socialization are also beneficial for both heart and general health.
However, realistically will not be able to adhere strictly to a Mediterranean diet and lifestyle especially if you are living in the Northern Hemisphere. In this case, it’s also beneficial to consider adding nutritional supplements such as Human Tonik’s carefully curated Super greens blend which is rich in antioxidants, adaptogens to help you manage stress, and key minerals and vitamins you may currently be lacking in your diet.
This can provide you with an extra layer of support on top of a diet rich in oily fish, fiber, and, healthy fats. Ensuring you take your vitamins for heart health alongside a meal can increase absorption as some vitamins including vitamin D and A are fat soluble and require a source of fat for optimal absorption.
Of course, although heart vitamins and minerals are of the utmost importance, they can’t replace heart health pills prescribed by your doctor – so do be sure to follow medical guidance if you already have a heart condition.
Julia is a health content editor and nutritionist from Norwich, UK. She has worked as a health coach in private practice and for the national health service. She undertook an MSc in nutritional medicine to deepen her knowledge.
She enjoys producing evidence-based content which inspires people to become healthier and happier.