Essential Information on the Essential Heart Vitamins: B, C, and E

If you're concerned about heart disease, then heart vitamins are one of the best investments you can make. A daily nutritional supplement containing the helpful heart vitamins B, C, and E is something you need. Low-cost and free of side effects, these three common vitamins can make a huge difference in your future health.

The B vitamin you can't afford to overlook is vitamin B12. It's particularly necessary for good heart health if you've cut out the red meat or pursued a totally vegetarian diet.

Vitamin B12 acts as one of the heart vitamins by lowering concentrations of homocysteine. Homocysteine is a naturally occurring amino acid.

By itself, homocysteine is not bad. It's even part of the process the body uses to make its own SAM-e, the same SAM-e sold as a supplement to relieve depression, fibromyalgia, and joint pain. But homocysteine levels build up in the bloodstream, they interfere with the methylation reactions that remove neural toxins.

One of the first signs you aren't getting enough of this vitamin is difficulty remembering and thinking clearly. High levels of homocysteine can cause a condition similar to Alzheimer's disease. And Alzheimer's disease itself is characterized by high levels of homocysteine, low levels of vitamin B12, and deficiencies of the key ingredient in methylation reactions, SAMe. German scientists have found that giving people with Alzheimer's vitamin B12 reduces belligerence and disturbed behavior.

High homocysteine levels may be even more damaging than high cholesterol levels, but taking vitamins like vitamin B12 protects your heart.

A clinical study in Poland found taking just 1000 micrograms of vitamin B12 a week, along with 300 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 5 milligrams of folic acid every day, for two months, cut homocysteine levels in half.

And this combination of heart vitamins also reduced levels of thrombin, the clotting agent that sets the stage for a heart attack or stroke.

If you invest in vitamins like B12, you can protect your heart for just pennies a day. And you will also get protection for your brain.

The next of the heart vitamins is vitamin C. Why would you take extra vitamin C? According to the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Study,

  • Getting just 300 milligrams of the second of the heart vitamins, vitamin C, every day lowers risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 25% in women and by 42% in men.

The study also found that getting more than 360 milligrams of vitamin C a day lowers risk of having a non-fatal heart attack by 27 to 28%. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Study concluded that vitamin C in food wasn't what made the difference. Lowering risk of heart attack and stroke require taking vitamin C supplements.

The way vitamin C lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke seems to be its effect on blood pressure. A recent study found that supplementing with 500 milligrams of vitamin C day lowers systolic blood pressure (the top number) an average of 9% over an eight-week period. This vitamin lowers blood pressure whether or not users are on blood pressure medication.

It should be noted that vitamin C sometimes lowers the risk of heart disease in people who have type 2 diabetes, and sometimes it doesn't. Genetic factors seem to make the difference. If you have diabetes, you should limit your daily intake of vitamin C to 200 milligrams a day for use as one of your heart vitamins. Diabetics shouldn't take more unless its' for fighting another, specific disease.

When taking vitamin E as one of your heart vitamins, the key consideration isn't quantity but quality. Natural is better than synthetic. You need more than just the synthetic alpha-tocopherol most supplements offer. You need a balanced blend of at least alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol, and preferably more of the four tocopherols and four tocotrienols that compose this third of the heart vitamins.

A small amount of balanced tocopherols will do a lot more good than a large amount of synthetic alpha-tocopherol. Balanced preparations of this third of the heart vitamins cancel out some of the free radicals released when the body responds to stress.

With fewer free radicals to deal with, the linings of the arteries can more easily produce nitric oxide from the amino acid arginine found in food. Vitamin E is particularly helpful for men experiencing stress of overwork or illness. Its effects on blood pressure (and in men, erectile function) are usually noticed after about a week's use.

Vitamin E is important not just as one of the heart vitamins but also as a sexual vitamin in women. Taking a larger dose of E, 600 to 800 IU a daily, helps a woman's body balance estrogen by producing estriol and progesterone.

"Estrogen dominance" is a fundamental cause of the symptoms of PMS, for example, anxiety, bloating, headaches, muscle aches, and mood swings. Taking 600 to 800 IU of vitamin E daily for 3 months (or, more precisely, through three menstrual cycles) will help relieve these problems. Providing the body with enough vitamin E also helps a woman's body respond to progesterone and progesterone creams taken to relieve symptoms. Supplementing with heart vitamins C and E also provides antioxidant power to fight the accumulated of oxidized plaques of cholesterol.

Some news headlines a year ago suggested taking vitamin E might not be helpful for heart health. What's the very latest official word on the safety of vitamin E as one of the heart vitamins?

An April 2005 article the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scientists at ten universities in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland agree that the usual "theoretical side effects" of even high doses of vitamin E (more than 1000 IU a day) simply don't occur. Even 1600 IU (1073 mg) a day for use as one of the heart vitamins has no detrimental side effects in healthy people. You can use vitamin E as one of your heart vitamins knowing it is beneficial.

Just be sure your supplement contains both of the major forms of vitamin E, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, preferably with other tocopherols and tocotrienols listed on the label. Even better, consider getting all your heart vitamins, B12, folic acid, B6, C, and E, in a easy to take complete nutritional supplement like Total Balance.

All of the 85 ingredients in Total Balance work in complete synergy without interfering with each other. You don't need high doses of any one of the heart vitamins, just a highly concentrated, natural supplement providing all the nutrients you need for heart health.

We take Total Balance ourselves and are very happy with the results. It is in covered it in detail in the "what we take tab" on the upper left hand portion of this page.

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