It is widely established that women of childbearing age have high levels of estrogen that protect them against cardiovascular disease. However, if they have type 1 diabetes, having high estrogen levels actually increases their risk of these diseases. A group of scientists is therefore planning to investigate whether nutritional supplements with antioxidants can protect diabetics against cardiovascular disease and the premature death caused by these ailments.
Atherosclerosis is one of the leading causes of death in the Western world, and the heart is particularly vulnerable. According to a study from the University of Birmingham, Alabama (USA), foods that are rich in potassium such as bananas, potatoes, avocado, and almonds protect against this disease, which takes years to develop. Beware that too much salt and the use of diuretics may deplete the body’s potassium stores.
A new study shows that adding eggs to your mixed salad increases the uptake of vitamin E from the vegetables, so don’t let your fear of fat and cholesterol keep you from consuming eggs. Eggs (yoke and white) contain a multitude of nutrients that are beneficial for your cardiovascular system and blood sugar.
On a global scale, cardiovascular disease and coronary occlusion cause more deaths than any other factor. However, according to a large meta-analysis from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, people who take fish oil have a lower risk of atherosclerosis and cardiac failure than those, who do not take the supplements. The study also revealed that high-dosed fish oil supplementation delivers more health benefits than the lower doses. Atherosclerosis develops gradually, and millions of people die every year because of this problem, which means that even minor changes such as taking supplements and eating a healthier diet, can improve quality of life and prevent many deaths. So, according to the new study, how much fish oil is needed in order to obtain the optimal cardiovascular effect?
Hypertension is a growing problem. Worldwide, it causes more premature deaths than any other risk factor. Chinese researchers have now found that supplementation with a combination of folic acid and anti-hypertensive medicine lowers the risk of stroke by nearly 75 percent. It is important to underline that many people have elevated blood pressure without knowing about it, and many things can cause a folic acid deficiency or poor utilization of the vitamin.
- but only few preparations work
The plant extract Ginkgo biloba contains some biologically active compounds that improve circulation through blood-thinning and vessel-dilating actions. However, a study of 29 different Ginkgo biloba preparations revealed that only 10% of the investigated products actually contained Ginkgo extract. You can avoid this problem by only using Ginkgo biloba in the form of natural remedies, because they are registered as pharmaceutical drugs.
In a matter of four months only, large doses of vitamin D were able to reduce arterial stiffness in young, overweight but otherwise healthy Afro-Americans, according to a study from Georgia, the United States. The study also showed that those participants, who only took the officially recommended quantities of vitamin D, had increased arterial stiffness. This suggests that the official vitamin D recommendations are too low to prevent stiff arteries and atherosclerosis. Another thing is that dark-skinned people living at northern latitudes, overweight individuals, older people diabetics, and those who overuse sun screen are at increased risk of synthesizing too little vitamin D.
It is essential that your heart is able to pump optimally throughout life. A study from Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University, the United States, has just shown that a diet with low levels of vitamin K1 from dark, leafy greens increases your risk of an unhealthy enlargement of the heart’s left ventricle that pumps the oxygenated blood to the aorta (the body’s largest artery). The scientists even observed this enlargement in teenagers. Vitamin K1 is primarily known for its role in the blood coagulation process, but it is also converted to vitamin K2 in our gut flora. In fact, it is vitamin K2 that is important for the heart and cardiovascular system.
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Their "omega-3" name indicates that they have a double bond at the third carbon atom in the middle carbon chain. Omega-3 fatty acids provide energy and constitute an important element in all cell membranes and various biochemical processes. The type known as ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) is essential, as the human body is unable to produce it. We depend on a dietary supply of this fatty acid. By means of enzymes, ALA is converted to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and finally into some hormone-like substances named prostaglandins (E3).
Omega-6 fatty acids belong to a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids whose "omega-6" name indicates that they have a double bond at the sixth carbon atom in the middle carbon chain. Omega-6 fatty acids provide energy and they are constituents of cell membranes and numerous biochemical processes. The type called LA (linoleic acid) is essential, as we humans are unable to synthesise it in the body. We depend on LA from our diets. Helped by certain enzymes, LA gets converted to GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and further on to AA (arachidonic acid) and some hormone-like substances called prostaglandins (type E1 and E2). The omega-6 fatty acids work together in a biochemical teamwork with omega-3 fatty acids. The type of fatty acids and the mutual balance between them is important for various processes.
Q10 is a lipid-soluble coenzyme that is found in all the body's cells, except for the red blood cells. Carbohydrate, fat, and protein get converted into energy by means of Q10 and the oxygen we breathe. This process takes place inside the small, cellular power stations called mitochondria. To begin with, Q10 contributes to storing the energy in a chemical form called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After that, Q10 makes sure that the energy is released in step with the shifting energy requirement of the cells.
- but ageing processes and cholesterol-lowering drugs inhibit the body’s Q10 synthesis
No matter how you twist and turn it, cholesterol is an essential substance, and we humans produce most of it ourselves. What is important is to make sure that the cholesterol we have in our blood does not oxidize, and that is something which Q10 and other antioxidants take care of. Stable blood sugar levels also help us maintain a healthy cholesterol balance.
Q10 and selenium increase IGF-1 in the elderly thereby contributing to far fewer cases of cardiac death
Q10 and selenium are powerful antioxidants that are important for the heart, cardiovascular system, and the energy turnover. As we grow older, our endogenous Q10 synthesis decreases, and many people lack selenium. A Swedish study has shown that older people who take supplements of Q10 and selenium have a 50 percent lower cardiovascular death rate. Another (more recent) Swedish study shows that Q10 and selenium also increase elderly peoples’ levels of IGF-1, a hormone with many functions in the body. The scientists assume that this helps reduce the risk of cardiac death among elderly people.
Cardiovascular diseases are widespread and one of the major causes of death. The risk is increased by factors such as ageing, diabetes, and overweight. One of the underlying causes is oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Q10, which is involved in cellular energy turnover, happens to be one of the most powerful antioxidants. According to a review article that is published in the scientific journal Antioxidants, supplementation with Q10 can reduce oxidative stress and cardiovascular mortality. It can also improve quality of life and increase the chances of survival. Generally speaking, Q10 has a huge potential for anyone with a desire to remain healthy, and it is important to choose a supplement with documented quality and bioavailability.
Selenium is a trace element that is found in all the cells of the body. An adult contains around 10-15 mg of selenium with the largest concentrations being found in the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland, sexual gland (gonads), and semen. Selenium supports over 30 different selenoproteins that have a number of different functions. Among these are five glutathione peroxidases (GSH-Px) that function as antioxidants, and three deiodinases that regulate the metabolism. Of all minerals, selenium is the one that holds the greatest antioxidant potential. It works in close collaboration with vitamin E to prevent oxidative damage to cell membranes, lipids, and DNA. Selenium and sulfur bear great chemical resemblances, but sulfur is not an antioxidant and has other functions in the body.
It is commonly known that fish oil with its high content of the two omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA helps prevent atherosclerosis. According to a new international study, it appears to be DHA that has the major effect. This new insight, which has surprised the scientists, is relevant to public health because cardiovascular disease continues to be the leading cause of death.
Lack of vitamin E increases your risk of fertility problems, atherosclerosis, blood clots, and Alzheimer's disease. The diet contains eight different forms of vitamin E. The vitamin is also available in supplement form, either as natural or synthetic vitamin E, and there are huge differences in terms of their effect.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and, as it turns out, alarming problems with vitamin K2 deficiency are a contributing factor, according to a new review article that is published in Open Heart. Vitamin K2 regulates the body’s calcium distribution and lack of the vitamin increases the risk of atherosclerosis, arterial stiffness, insulin resistance, and heart failure. Supplementation with vitamin K2 has been seen to improve circulatory health in a number of different ways, and it also has a positive effect on inflammation and type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, modern diets are not all that rich in vitamin K2 and the problem is made worse by the fact that different types of medicine disrupt the body’s ability to utilize the nutrient.
- and provide other benefits
Zinc is a trace element that is necessary for around 300 enzymes that control the thyroid gland, fertility, the nervous system, the immune system, and a number of other functions. A team of scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found a close link between the body’s zinc status and cardiac function. Although clinical zinc deficiencies are rare, short-term subclinical zinc deficiencies are more widespread than previously thought. Even a minor zinc deficiency may affect cardiac health and the countless enzyme processes that depend on the presence of zinc. Besides, zinc is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against oxidative stress. There are many reasons why it is important to get enough of this nutrient.