Of all the essential nutrients that our bodies need on a regular basis, vitamins are perhaps the most researched and well-known. Ever since we were children, we were told of the importance of taking our vitamins. These nutrients help our body perform hundreds of different functions and without we simply cannot survive.
Vitamins for cardiac health are specific vitamins which contribute to overall heart health and function, while helping prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.
The most important group of vitamins specifically for heart health is the B Vitamin Family. These vitamins serve specific functions that can significantly reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
The B Vitamins, specifically folic acid (Vitamin B9), Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12 are all responsible for helping the body remove homocysteine from the blood. High levels of homocysteine can cause artery damage. Meat is a good source of B vitamins, which is why vegetarians have an increased risk of dangerous homocysteine levels. It is especially important that they supplement these important vitamins for cardiac health.
Vitamin B3, known more commonly as niacin, may also reduce cholesterol in high concentrations, although further testing is needed to prove this conclusively. As far as other heart vitamins are concerned, Vitamin E and Vitamin C work in conjunction with each other to prevent heart disease and other ailments through their antioxidant abilities.
Apart from vitamins for cardiac health, antioxidants are substances that remove toxic byproducts of chemical reactions in the body. That’s why you hear so much about antioxidants – they are responsible for clearing out highly reactive chemicals that circulate in the body, making sure they don’t cause cell and tissue damage. It is this damage that is believed to cause heart disease, cancer and premature aging.
Other vitamins for cardiac health include folic acid and other B vitamins reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, according to a detailed analysis of more than three dozen scientific studies.
These nutrients work by quenching homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that attacks blood vessel walls and promotes cardiovascular disease.
Homocysteine (pronounced ho´-mo-sis´-teen) has emerged after 25 years of research as the “new cholesterol,” and researchers estimate that it is a major risk factor in 10 to 40 percent of heart attacks and strokes in the United States. Under normal circumstances, this amino acid is a short-lived byproduct of methionine metabolism, but a diet short on B vitamins prevents its breakdown.
The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed 38 previous studies on homocysteine, folic acid, and cardiovascular diseases. Researcher Shirley A. A. Beresford, PhD, of the University of Washington, confirmed that high blood levels of homocysteine were clearly associated with cardiovascular diseases and that folic acid lowered levels of the amino acid. Other studies have reported that vitamins for cardiac health also include B6, B12, and choline also lower homocysteine levels.
High blood levels of homocysteine, also known as hyperhomocysteinemia, pose a risk of cardiovascular disease independent of other risk factors, such as cholesterol, triglyceride, smoking, and so forth. Beresford estimated that up to 50,000 coronary heart disease deaths could be prevented by increasing folic acid intake-by eating more fruit and vegetables, fortifying foods with the vitamin, or taking supplements.
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