Supplements for heart health

Sep 04, 2022
Supplements for heart health

Not all supplements are safe or effective for everyone. Javier Díez/Stocksy

  • Researchers assessed the effects of various micronutrients on cardiovascular and type 2 diabetes risk.
  • They found that some micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and coenzyme Q10 decreased cardiovascular risk but not others.
  • They also found that beta-carotene supplements are linked to increased cardiovascular risk and cardiovascular mortality.
  • Experts say that further research is needed to understand how these results may apply to dietary recommendations.

Diet and nutrition are important drivers of cardiovascular disease (CVDs) and type 2 diabetes (T2D).

The American Heart Association recommends diets high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and low in saturated fat and sodium to reduce CVD and T2D risk.

Further research into micronutrients is crucial for personalizing preventive strategies for CVDs and T2D.

In a recent study, researchers reviewed 884 randomized controlled trials to assess the link between micronutrients and cardiometabolic risk.

While some micronutrients reduced cardiometabolic risk, others had a neutral effect. Beta-carotene, however, increased CVD risk.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Which supplements were beneficial?

For the study, the researchers analyzed 884 studies with a total of 883,627 participants.

Data included micronutrient supplementation; nine measures of cardiometabolic risk factors covering blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar levels, and a range of outcome measures including cardiovascular events, diagnosis of T2D, and mortality from stroke, heart disease, and all-cause mortality.

From their analysis, they found that several micronutrients improved at least two of the nine CVD risk factor measures based on moderate to high quality studies. These included:

  • omega-3 fatty acid
  • omega-6 fatty acid
  • L-arginine
  • L-citrulline
  • folic acid
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • alpha lipoic acid
  • coenzyme Q10
  • Anthocyanin
  • curcumin
  • genistein
  • quercetin

They noted that omega-3 fatty acid supplements decreased CVD mortality, heart attacks, and other heart diseases, while folic acid reduced strokes.

Meanwhile, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium had no effect on CVD events such as heart attack, arrhythmia or stroke, or diagnosis of T2D and had no impact on longer-term outcomes such as cardiovascular mortality.

They further found that while omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta carotene were not linked to T2D incidence, an analysis of 10 polyphenols found moderate quality evidence for a reduction in HbA1c (a measure of longer-term blood sugar levels) for coenzyme Q10 and reduction in fasting blood insulin levels for flavanol, genistein, and quercetin. There was high quality evidence for similar reductions in insulin levels for curcumin.

Beta-carotene supplements, however, were linked to an increased risk of all-cause mortality, CVD mortality, and a reduction in the number of strokes.

How antioxidants affect cardiovascular health

To understand how the different micronutrients studied may affect cardiometabolic health, Medical News Today spoke with Dr. Debbie Fetter, assistant professor in teaching nutrition at the University of California Davis, who was not involved in the study.