For years, I’ve been writing about Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose as my “Awesome Foursome” of heart health nutrients. My clinical experience has shown me time and again that this combination of nutritional supplements has a favorable impact on cardiovascular health, including cholesterol and blood pressure.
Each one of the heart health nutrients is needed by the microscopic structures inside our cells called mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the fuel your body requires at the cellular level. Without enough of it, your cells can’t function at optimum levels—and nowhere is that more apparent than in the energy-guzzling cells specifically found in the heart. Poor ATP metabolism can result in the heart becoming weak and inefficient, which can lead to a significantly compromised quality of life. This is why heart health nutrients such as Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose is so important.
Here’s how each of these heart health nutrients contributes to the ATP production process (and therefore a healthy heart), along with dosage directions depending on your current health status.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), one of my top heart-health nutrients, is a vitamin-like substance that’s made naturally in the body and crucial to heart health. However, production declines with age and poor diet, and is significantly impaired by statin drugs.
CoQ10 works in the body in two ways. The first is as an escort. Inside our cells, electrons are extracted from the food we eat to produce ATP. CoQ10 molecules play a central role in that process by shuttling electrons back and forth between enzymes. The second role CoQ10 plays is as a scavenger of free radicals, which is a critical ability because ATP production generates a lot of free radical activity. In this antioxidant capacity, CoQ10 helps protect cell membranes and arterial tissue from oxidative stress and inflammatory damage.
Suggested dosage of this heart-health nutrient: I suggest 50 to 100 mg of CoQ10 per day. Individuals with high blood pressure or who are taking a statin drug should take 180 to 360 mg of this heart health nutrient per day. Those needing additional support should take 300 to 600 mg per day. For best absorption, I recommend supplementing with the water-soluble form of CoQ10, and taking it with meals.
L-carnitine, another of my top heart-health nutrients, is a water-soluble compound found primarily in meat—especially in lamb. The body also makes it.
L-carnitine’s role in ATP production is also as an escort, and a vital one at that. It’s the only molecule in our cells with the ability to move fatty acids into the mitochondria. This function is critical because the heart obtains 60 percent of its fuel from fat! Equally important, carnitine also carries the waste generated by ATP metabolism out of the mitochondria.
Suggested dosage of this heart-health nutrient: There are several forms of carnitine, including L-carnitine fumarate, acetyl-L-carnitine, and glycine propionyl L-carnitine. My preference is a broad spectrum heart health nutrients that includes all three of these types. Take 1,000 to 1,500 mg in divided doses on an empty stomach to prevent deficiency, and up to 3,000 mg if you have any kind of heart concerns.
All enzymatic reactions involving ATP require magnesium. People get magnesium through their diet (leafy green vegetables, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, beans, tofu, figs, apricots and bananas are all rich in magnesium) and mineral-rich hard drinking water. However, magnesium deficiency is common due to poor diet, emotional and physical stress and long-term use of diuretics.
Suggested dosage of this heart-health nutrient: Magnesium glycinate, taurinate, or orotate are the best-absorbed supplement forms of this heart health nutrient. Take at least 400 mg daily with meals.
D-ribose is a naturally occurring sugar derivative of ATP that helps fuel the regeneration of energy when your body can’t create it quickly enough. When the heart is under stress and deprived of oxygen—during heavy exercise, for instance—there’s a profound depression of ATP. Individuals with ischemia have low levels of ribose, which compromises the heart’s ability to re-synthesize and regenerate ATP.
Suggested dosage of this heart-health nutrient: For individuals involved in moderate to intense exercise, take 5 g daily prior to activity. For those needing additional support, doses up to 10–15 g daily is fine. Take ribose in divided doses with meals.