The Top Heart Health Nutrients Everyone Should Consider
For years, I’ve been writing about Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose as my “Awesome Foursome” for heart health. 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 foursome 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 fuel. Without enough of it, your cells can’t function at optimum levels—and nowhere is that more apparent than in the energy-guzzling cells of the heart. Poor ATP metabolism in the heart can result in the heart becoming weak and inefficient, and in a significantly compromised quality of life. That’s why supplementing with Coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose is so important.
Here’s how each of these supplements contributes to the ATP production process (and therefore a healthy heart), along with dosage directions depending on your current health status.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) 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. This 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: To maintain heart health, 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 per day. Those needing additional support should take 300 to 600 mg per day. For best absorption, I recommend supplementing with the hydrosoluble form of CoQ10, and taking it with meals.
L-carnitine is a water-soluble compound found primarily in meat—especially 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: There are several forms of carnitine, including L-carnitine fumarate, acetyl-L-carnitine, and glycine propionyl L-carnitine. My preference is a broad spectrum supplement 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: Magnesium glycinate, taurinate, or orotate are the best-absorbed supplement forms. For basic heart health, 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—for instance, during heavy exercise—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: 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.
More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Supplements for Heart Health
What other two supplements should everyone take for optimal heart health? Learn the two nutritional supplements I recommend for one and all to maintain a healthy heart.
Which supplements target specific health concerns? Discover some of the supplements you should consider if you are dealing with certain health concerns.
What special supplements do you need for heart health if you are an avid exerciser? Find out which antioxidant supplements you should take if you exercise a lot.
Which specific supplements can help lower blood pressure? Learn the details of my Healthy Blood Pressure Supplementation Program.
Enjoy What You've Just Read?
Get it delivered to your inbox! Signup for E-News and you'll get great content like you've just read along with other great tips and guides for Dr. Sinatra!
Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra's Favorites
Doctor-recommended support for healthy cholesterol ratios, blood pressure & overall heart health
Refuel your cellular engines for efficient heart function
Strength, energy, endurance--get the targeted nutrient support a man needs most
Stay youthful, healthy, vibrant and balanced with nutrient support designed to meet a woman's needs