3 Top Micronutrients for Cardiovascular Health by Dr. Joseph Mercola
- Brown University researchers conducted a study to determine which micronutrients are best for your heart
- They unveiled an up-to-date evidence-based map that quantifies the impact of micronutrients on cardiovascular outcomes
- Out of 27 micronutrients, three — omega-3 fats, folate and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) — came out on top
- Omega-3 fats decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease, while also reducing heart attacks and coronary heart disease events
- Folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, or vitamin B9, reduced stroke risk, while CoQ10 decreased all-cause mortality events
- Most, but not all, of the micronutrients studied showed “moderate- to high-quality evidence” of reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., killing one person every 34 seconds.1 Your diet plays a prominent role in your heart health, but the role of individual micronutrients continues to be debated. Brown University researchers conducted a study to determine which micronutrients are best for your heart.2
They unveiled an up-to-date evidence-based map that quantifies the impact of micronutrients on cardiovascular outcomes. Out of 27 micronutrients, three — omega-3 fats, folate and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) — came out on top.
Micronutrients Benefit Cardiometabolic Health
Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function optimally. Deficiencies in micronutrients can lead to a range of acute and chronic conditions. In terms of heart health, Brown University researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis involving 884 trials. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, evaluated 27 types of micronutrients used by 883,627 participants.3
“For the first time, we developed a comprehensive, evidence-based integrative map to characterize and quantify micronutrient supplements’ potential effects on cardiometabolic outcomes,” study author Dr. Simin Liu, professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University, said in a news release. “Our study highlights the importance of micronutrient diversity and the balance of health benefits and risks.”4
Most, but not all, of the micronutrients showed “moderate- to high-quality evidence” of reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Those that were beneficial included:5
|Folic acid (folate)||Vitamin D||Magnesium||Zinc|
|Alpha-lipoic acid||Coenzyme Q10||Melatonin||Catechin|
The study was unique in that it took a comprehensive look at micronutrient supplementation, including phytochemicals and antioxidants. Liu explained:6
“Research on micronutrient supplementation has mainly focused on the health effects of a single or a few vitamins and minerals. We decided to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate all the publicly available and accessible studies reporting all micronutrients, including phytochemicals and antioxidant supplements and their effects on cardiovascular risk factors as well as multiple cardiovascular diseases.”
3 Micronutrients to Support Heart Health
While beta carotene supplementation increased all-cause mortality, omega-3 fats, folate and CoQ10 were highly protective. Here are more details about how these important micronutrients affect your heart health.
1. Omega-3s — The study found omega-3 fats decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease, while also reducing heart attacks and coronary heart disease events.7 This mirrors previous studies, which have also found beneficial effects of omega-3s on heart health. Omega-3 fats derived from krill oil, for instance, have been found to reduce triglyceride levels and help reduce cardiovascular risk.8
Further, people with Type 2 diabetes who used omega-3 supplements had a lower incidence of hospitalization with heart failure — a form of heart disease in which the heart experiences ventricular dysfunction — in another study.9
An omega-3 index test is one of the most important annual health screens that everyone needs, and it’s a more important predictor of your heart disease risk than your cholesterol levels. Even research supported by the National Institutes of Health suggests an omega-3 test is a good predictor of overall health and all-cause mortality.10,11
That study measured the omega-3 index in 2,500 participants and found those with the highest omega-3 index had lower risks of heart problems and lower total mortality. The omega-3 index measures of the amount of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the membranes of your red blood cells (RBC). Your index is expressed as a percent of your total RBC fatty acids.
The omega-3 index has been validated as a stable, long-term marker of your omega-3 status, and it reflects your tissue levels of EPA and DHA. An omega-3 index over 8% is associated with the lowest risk of death from heart disease, while an index below 4% places you at the highest risk of heart disease-related mortality.
The ideal sources for EPA and DHA include cold-water fatty fish, like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, herring and anchovies. If you do not eat these fish on a regular basis, consider taking a krill oil supplement.
In addition, be aware that your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio should be about 1-to-1 or possibly up to 4-to-1, but most Americans consume far too many omega-6 fats and not enough omega-3. For optimal heart health, in addition to increasing your omega-3, it’s important to cut down on industrially processed seeds oils, often referred to as “vegetable oils,” found in most processed foods.
2. Folate — The Journal of the American College of Cardiology study revealed that folic acid reduced stroke risk.12 Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate, or vitamin B9, and it’s the most important dietary determinant of homocysteine. Elevated levels of homocysteine (Hcy) are a risk factor for coronary artery disease and are found in most patients with vascular disease.13 According to a literature review published in Advances in Therapy:14