Most of us associate supplements with health, and many supplements make big claims about their benefits. However, there is relatively little evidence to support the idea that supplements claiming to improve heart health actually do so.
While some supplements may be beneficial for improving factors that lead to heart disease, like cholesterol or blood pressure, supplements are not evaluated by the FDA and may often make misleading claims. Some supplements may even worsen heart health. For example, vitamin E can increase the risk of heart failure and stroke in some patients, and there are risks associated with taking vitamin D with calcium. Certain supplements may also interact with heart medications in negative ways. It is always recommended to consult your doctor before taking any supplement for these reasons.
Some of the most popular “heart health” supplements include fish oil, magnesium, folic acid, CoQ10, and fiber. While some may improve heart health or risk factors such as high blood pressure, research has been mixed, and it is unlikely that any one of these supplements will greatly improve heart health by itself. Furthermore, a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that most supplements do not improve heart health. The most promising supplements included omega-3 and folate for some individuals, but the most consistently effective outcomes came from lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise.
Overall, the best way to improve heart health is to consistently exercise and eat a heart-healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and avoids processed and sweetened foods. While some supplements may be beneficial for some individuals, the most effective method of getting proper vitamins and nutrition is to eat a healthful, well-balanced diet.