When we think of circulatory health we want to focus on the entire cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system is composed of the heart and blood vessels. The heart pumps blood containing oxygen and nutrients through vessels to organs in the body and in turn removes carbon dioxide and waste products.
The heart is constantly pumping blood at a rate of roughly 100,000 beats per day. Therefore, it is important to focus on supplements that can help maximize the strength and performance of this organ. Supplements like Coenzyme Q10 can support energy production in heart muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and krill oils can promote the healthy flow of blood within the arteries and veins. Arginine can help relax the blood vessels to further promote healthy circulation of blood. Hawthorn can improve heart function and B-vitamins can protect it. Let’s take a closer look at these ingredients.
Coenzyme Q10 is found in high concentrations in the mitochondria (powerhouse) of cells. Heart muscle cells are particularly rich in Coenzyme Q10. People with congestive heart failure have lower levels of Coenzyme Q10 in their heart muscles and can increase the output of the heart by supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 (1). There is also substantial evidence that shows supplementing with Coenzyme Q10 can have a favorable effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (2). While it is clear that Coenzyme Q10 aids heart function, it is poorly absorbed from the diet. A blend of conjugated linoleic acid, flax seed oil, and soybean oil can aid the absorption of this nutrient. This is extremely important because these healthy fats aid the uptake of Coenzyme Q10 in the intestine (3). A 50 mg dose maximizes absorption.(4)
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids found in fish oil and in krill oil. These essential fatty acids are not produced by the body and have an abundance of health benefits in the circulatory system. They reduce inflammation caused by free radicals which can lead to hardening or thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) (5). They also play a role in preventing blood clot formation and can promote healthy cholesterol levels in the blood. Supplementing with fish or krill oil is important because the American diet greatly lacks these essential fatty acids. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) should also be added to the diet. Vitamin K2 prevents the calcification of arteries and protects against heart disease (6,7). Krill oil is also rich in phospholipids which are found in cell membranes. This form of omega-3 fatty acids appears to be better absorbed by the body and has a more pronounced effect on cholesterol levels (8). Krill oil also contains astaxanthin which is an antioxidant red/orange carotenoid pigment naturally produced by the krill.
Arginine is an amino acid that is important for circulatory system health. In circulatory tissues, arginine is converted to nitric oxide which has a relaxing effect on the interior lining of blood vessels and helps promote healthy blood pressure. Arginine also reduces platelet adhesion which further promotes healthy blood circulation (9).
Hawthorn has traditionally been used to support the circulatory system. It has been shown to increase the strength of contractions in the heart and to increase the output volume of each contraction (10). B-6 (Pyridoxine), B-12 (cyanocobalamin) and folate help to lower homocysteine levels. Elevated homocysteine levels are considered a strong indicator of heart disease risk.
The final important ingredient is resveratrol, a potent antioxidant. Cardiovascular tissues endure a great exposure to oxygen and free radicals. Free radicals enter the blood from the air we breathe and from the foods we eat. Supplementing the diet with high potency antioxidants like resveratrol can not only neutralize these harmful free radicals but can also preserve good health and longevity (11).
- Molyneux SL, Florkowski CM, Richards AM, Lever M, Young JM, George PM. Coenzyme Q10; an adjunctive therapy for congestive heart failure? N Z Med J. 2009 Oct 30;122(1305):74-9.
- Ho MJ, Bellusci A, Wright JM. Blood pressure lowering efficacy of coenzyme Q10 for primary hypertension Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Oct 7;(4):CD007435.
- Liu ZX, Artmann C. Relative bioavailability comparison of different coenzyme Q10 formulations with a novel delivery system. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009 Mar Apr;15(2):42-6.
- Bhagavan HN, Chopra RK. Coenzyme Q10: absorption, tissue uptake, metabolism and pharmacokinetics. Free Radic Res. 2006 May;40(5):445-53. Review.
- Simopoulos AP.The omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio, genetic variation, and cardiovascular disease. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:131-4.
- Gast GC, de Roos NM, Sluijs I, Bots ML, Beulens JW, Geleijnse JM, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE, Peeters PH, van der Schouw YT.A high menaquinone intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease.Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10. Epub 2009 Jan 28.
- 7) Beulens JW, Bots ML, Atsma F, Bartelink ML, Prokop M, Geleijnse JM, Witteman JC, Grobbee DE, van der Schouw YT. High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification Atherosclerosis. 2009 Apr;203(2):489-93. Epub 2008 Jul 19
- 8) Werner A, Havinga R, Kuipers F, Verkade HJ. Treatment of EFA deficiency with dietary triglycerides or phospholipids in a murine model of extrahepatic cholestasis. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2004;286:G822-G832.
- 9) Adams MR, McCredie R, Jessup W, et al. Oral L-arginine improves endothelium-dependent dilatation and reduces monocyte adhesion to endothelial cells in young men with coronary artery disease. Atherosclerosis 1997;129:261-9.
- 10) Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med 2003;114:665-74.
- 11) Marques FZ, Markus MA, Morris BJ Resveratrol: cellular actions of a potent natural chemical that confers a diversity of health benefits Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009 Nov;41(11):2125-8. Epub 2009 Jun 13.