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Issue 79: Set Your Heart on These Nutrients

It might just be unprecendented. This study—released in February of 2009—says that approximately 216 of 300 polled cardiologists would suggest taking dietary supplements in addition to the regular recommendation of eating a nutritious diet and incorporating regular exercise.

The results came from research from the “Life…supplemented” Healthcare Professionals (HCP) Impact Study, a wellness campaign dedicated to raising awareness about how dietary supplement usage is becoming more mainstream and part of a proactive personal wellness lifestyle choice.

The study compiled personal attitudes about and usage of dietary supplements by healthcare professionals and whether their beliefs about supplements affected their day-to-day professional duties and recommendations. The “Life…supplemented” campaign is managed by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade association leader for the dietary supplement industry.

Those who participated in the survey—300 cardiologists, 300 dermatologists and 300 orthopedic professionals—received a nominal honorarium for taking time out of their busy schedules to participate in the poll. Nearly 216 of the 300 cardiologists polled (by Ipsos Public Affairs) recommend dietary supplements and more than half of them take supplements themselves. The most popular include: multivitamins, omega-3/fish oils and vitamin C. But that’s not all.

William Cooper, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular surgery at WellStar Kennestone Hospital, assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at Emory University and advisor to the “Life…supplemented” campaign, states, “Dietary supplements play an important role in a well-balanced health regimen, filling nutritional gaps and helping to promote overall health.”

Dr. Cooper cites the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid/fish oil supplements to support healthy inflammation and already normal triglyceride levels as well as a healthy heart.† He also highlights the role of multivitamins—suggesting that they can support overall health.† Fiber and phytosterols, antioxidants (like vitamin C and E), B vitamins, CoQ10, calcium, potassium and magnesium were also cited by Dr. Cooper.

He doesn’t leave out a healthy diet or regular exercise, though. Diet and exercise are essential, but he believes that dietary supplementation has its place, too.

Dr. Cooper is certainly not alone concerning the importance of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA in heart health.†

Dr. Carl Lavie, cardiologist and medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention at the Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans, agrees. He believes people should consume at least 500mg of EPA plus DHA per day— and 800mg to 1,000mg per day for those who are serious about reducing the risk of coronary heart disease—to meet their daily needs.†

Lavie and his colleagues recently made this recommendation in a paper published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Not all cardiologists are in agreement, of course, but the American Heart Association (AHA) seems to concur. The AHA currently recommends an optimal intake of 1,000mg daily of EPA plus DHA to help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

The AHA recommends at minimal getting 500mg of EPA plus DHA per day—which is about two servings of fatty fish a week. When it comes to fish choices, however, the AHA cautions fish eaters to beware of fish that are most likely to be contaminated with mercury, including shark, swordfish or tilefish.

The next time you’re considering what all goes into a healthy heart, maybe you should set your heart on these nutrients.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

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