Jul 07, 2023

Several Supplements May Give the Heart a Boost

Dec. 8, 2022 – Certain antioxidant supplements – such as omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and coenzyme Q10 – may benefit your heart's health, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Researchers looked at the findings from nearly 900 studies with almost 900,000 patients and found some of these micronutrients reduced the risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or death, while others appeared to have no effect, and still others appeared to be potentially harmful.

"Our study highlights the importance of micronutrient diversity and the balance of health benefits and risks," says Simin Liu, MD, the senior study author and a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Brown University in Providence, RI.

"Identifying the optimal mixture of micronutrients is important, as not all are beneficial, and some may even have harmful effects," he says.

The research team focused on cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, and things like heart attack or stroke.

Overall, the researchers found evidence that many micronutrients offer a potential boost to the heart, including:

Many of these micronutrients lowered blood pressure, cholesterol, and insulin levels.

In particular, omega-3 fatty acid supplements were shown to lower cardiovascular disease deaths by 7%, coronary heart disease events by 14%, and heart attacks by 15%. Folic acid supplements also decreased stroke risk by 16%, and coenzyme Q10 decreased all-cause deaths by 32% in heart failure patients.

In contrast, supplements of beta-carotene (found naturally in plants, such as carrots, and fruits) increased stroke risk by 9%, all-cause deaths by 10%, and cardiovascular disease deaths by 12%. And finally, in the long term, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and selenium showed no effect on cardiovascular disease outcomes or type 2 diabetes risk.

Previous studies have shown that antioxidants benefit the heart, likely because they reduce stress that contributes to heart disease. Heart-healthy diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), feature antioxidant-rich foods. But studies of particular antioxidant supplements have been mixed or inconsistent.

"Research on micronutrient supplementation has mainly focused on the health effects of a single or a few vitamins and minerals," Liu says. "We decided to take a comprehensive and systematic approach to evaluate all the publicly available and accessible studies reporting all micronutrients."

More studies are needed to find combinations that improve someone's individual diet and heart health, the study authors wrote.


Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "Micronutrient Supplementation to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk."

Simin Liu, MD, professor of epidemiology and medicine, Center for Global Cardiometabolic Health, Brown University, Providence, RI.

Mayo Clinic: "L-arginine," "Omega-6 fatty acids: Can they cause heart disease?" "Zinc."

Harvard T.C. Chan School of Public Health: "Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution."

Journal of the American College of Cardiology: "Editorial comment: Antioxidant Supplementation in Cardiovascular Prevention."