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Improving Heart Health with Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and isolated compounds that you can take in pill, liquid, powder or food form. Many dietary supplements claim a heart health benefit. But a word of caution: Dietary supplements are not currently regulated the way you might think. Dietary supplement makers are not required to show that products are effective before claiming so on product labels.

Vitamins and Minerals

You might take a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need each day.

In many people, a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement is not necessary but during certain life-stages and with certain health conditions, a supplement is suggested. Other vitamin and mineral supplements exist that provide much more than your daily needs. Too much of any nutrient can be harmful to your health and 'upper levels' of many nutrients exist. Be careful that you do not exceed these maximum levels over time.

Herbs and Botanicals

These dietary supplements are generally extracts from plants or other things found in nature. Sometimes, the compounds have been shown to be helpful to heart health in at least one scientific study. Do your homework though. Often, all research studies taken together do not support a heart benefit. And the purity and actual levels of compounds in these supplements is not broadly monitored.

Recommendations for Dietary Supplement Use

With a few exceptions, the American Heart Association does not recommend taking dietary supplements to reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating a diet full of healthy foods, like fruits, vegetable, whole grains, low-fat meats and dairy products, should provide you with the foods and nutrients useful for a healthy heart. If you are under treatment for heart disease, your doctor may prescribe certain supplements known to help your condition.

Of course, the market is full of dietary supplements that claim to be good for the heart. In addition, many foods now contain compounds to reduce your risk of heart disease.

The best thing you can do is be knowledgeable of how much scientific support exists for any dietary supplement you choose to take. Then discuss your decisions with your doctor.


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