Your heart is one organ you can’t live without. In times past, people actually considered the heart the seat of thought and emotion, rather than the brain. As medical science progressed, experts realized that the heart does not house our thoughts, but rather delivers life-giving oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. As the heart pumps, it sends blood through your veins and arteries, acting as the central part of your cardiovascular system. Most of us know how important exercise is to heart health — the heart is a muscle, after all. However, getting enough heart-healthy nutrients is just as vital. Vitamins, minerals, and other compounds help your heart, blood vessels, and entire circulatory system function properly. But do you
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Your heart is one organ you can’t live without. In times past, people actually considered the heart the seat of thought and emotion, rather than the brain.
As medical science progressed, experts realized that the heart does not house our thoughts, but rather delivers life-giving oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. As the heart pumps, it sends blood through your veins and arteries, acting as the central part of your cardiovascular system.
Most of us know how important exercise is to heart health — the heart is a muscle, after all. However, getting enough heart-healthy nutrients is just as vital. Vitamins, minerals, and other compounds help your heart, blood vessels, and entire circulatory system function properly. But do you know which ones help your heart the most?
Best Vitamins & Minerals for Your Heart
One of the most important things you can do for your heart is to eat a healthful, balanced diet. Certain vitamins and minerals play a special role in supporting a healthy, happy heart.
While it’s important to maintain proper levels of these vitamins and minerals throughout life, as you grow older, your body may produce less of certain nutrients, or your body may absorb them less effectively than when you were younger — making supplementation increasingly helpful.
These nutrients will help keep your heart healthy throughout life, and well into your golden years.
Vitamin C is a robust antioxidant that boosts collagen and repairs damaged tissues!
Found in oranges and other heart-healthy citrus fruits, vitamin C helps the body repair damaged tissue. Extra vitamin C also boosts your body’s production of collagen, a protein that supports healthy blood vessels. A powerful antioxidant, this nutrient counteracts free radicals that damage cells.
Adult women need 75 mg (milligrams) while adult men need 90 mg of vitamin C a day, but if you eat a conventional American diet, you might not get enough.
Your best bet? Boost your citrus fruit intake! Eating vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables — at least five servings a day — has been linked to a more than 15 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
Vitamin C normalizes levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and promotes normal blood pressure. It does this by boosting production of a compound called nitric oxide that helps relax and open blood vessels, helping your blood flow smoothly and efficiently.
Studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to heart health risk factors. Getting more will make your heart happy, especially as you grow older.
Did you know that the sunshine vitamin plays a big role in how nerves carry messages to your heart?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble hormone produced by your kidneys, although exposure to the sun can boost its production. That’s why people call it the sunshine vitamin! With age, your body makes less vitamin D, as well.
Vitamin D helps regulate levels of calcium in the blood, which plays a role in how nerves carry messages to your heart — along with other parts of your body.
This vitamin may also promote normal blood sugar levels, though the studies are preliminary and mostly animal or human epidemiological studies (correlating vitamin D use with various health conditions in a population), versus human lab trials, which gives stronger results.
The daily requirement for adult men and women is 15 mcg (micrograms). The Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board recommends that adults over 70 get 20 mcg per day.
Vitamin K plays a role in how your blood clots and in how calcium is processed in your bloodstream. Specifically, scientists have linked low vitamin K to “vascular calcifications” or calcium deposits on the wall of your arteries, which leads to atherosclerosis — a leading risk factor for heart disease.
With normal levels of vitamin K, people generally have fewer calcium deposits. Studies have found that higher vitamin K intake improves cardiovascular health and optimizes levels of calcium in tissues. The right amount of vitamin K promotes proper blood flow.
The daily requirement for vitamin K is 90 mcg for adult women and 120 mcg for adult men; pregnant or breastfeeding women and children require different amounts.
Magnesium is the fourth most plentiful mineral in your body — but a lot of people do not get enough. This mineral helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
Magnesium works with calcium to help your heart muscle function properly.
Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, which helps transmit the electrical impulse of your heartbeat. Magnesium helps muscles relax, while calcium helps them contract; together they help the heart muscle work properly.
The daily recommendation is 320 mg to 420 mg, which you can get from nuts, seeds, and legumes, but you may need a supplement to ensure you get enough.
A deficiency in potassium can lead to blood pressure issues in adults.
Potassium is an electrolyte, a mineral that acts as an electrical charge to help your body — including your heart, muscles, and nerves — function normally. It also helps you maintain a proper blood volume. Like vitamin K, potassium also helps normalize calcium buildup in blood vessels.
Many people don’t get enough potassium. Too little of this mineral, along with too much sodium, can lead to blood pressure issues. However, adequate potassium levels promote normal blood pressure in adults.
Avoid processed foods like white rice and refined-flour bread, because processing grains removes much of their natural potassium.