The heart is a vital part of your health. It’s the transportation system, the highway of the body. The heart, or more broadly, the cardiovascular system pumps blood throughout the body and delivers oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs. The health of the cardiovascular system is directly related to overall health. Read on to see how vitamins such as Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Vitamin C can help keep your heart strong and healthy!
Why Should We Care About Heart Health?
Heart disease is on the rise and it reaches into all corners of the globe. It’s estimated that 32% of total deaths are related to cardiovascular disease, making it the number one contributor to overall mortality rates.
By 2030, it’s estimated almost half of the population will be diagnosed with cardiac impairment. There are a variety of factors that contribute to the onset and progression of heart disease. Diets high in sugar, refined oils and lack of physical activity contribute to the altered physiology seen in cardiovascular pathologies. In addition to lifestyle choices, environmental toxins and stress can increase the probability of cardiovascular disease.
The common denominator when it comes to the risk factors of chronic disease is the generation of free radicals, which produce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages the heart and blood vessels. This can result in high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated fat particles in the blood and in turn, it can lead to heart attack and strokes. Research is correlating a reduction in oxidative stress with a reduction in cardiovascular disease. Lowering oxidative stress can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and regulate the blood lipid profile.
Vitamin C and Heart Health
Vitamin C is an ally when it comes to heart health. A strong antioxidant and free radical scavenger, it has been shown to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and protect blood vessels from oxidative stress.
A meta-analysis that reviewed multiple studies on vitamin C determined after assessing nearly 300,000 participants over 10 years, that those who took supplemental vitamin C had a 25% lower risk of heart disease than their counterparts who did not supplement with vitamin C.
There are two types of cholesterol, HDL, the “good one” and LDL, the “bad” one. When there is an excess of LDL, risk factors for heart disease increase exponentially. Vitamin C reduces LDL cholesterol and improves the blood lipid profile, which both have positive implications in heart health.
In addition to this, vitamin C has been shown to upregulate a pathway that produces nitric oxide- a potent vasodilator that helps blood flow and improves circulation. It’s speculated that nitric oxide can help improve symptoms of narrowed arteries, chest pain, coronary heart disease and reduce blood pressure.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid and Heart Health
Like vitamin C, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant. It is both water and fat soluble, meaning it exerts its effects in many different environments throughout the body. As discussed, oxidative stress is at the root of cardiovascular disease. By systemically lowering the oxidative load, it helps to keep the health of the circulatory system intact.
ALA is unique in the sense that it not only acts as an antioxidant itself, but it works synergistically to heighten the properties of other antioxidants that target the cardiovascular system.
We know that elevated LDL cholesterol levels contribute to cardiovascular disease, but the risk becomes magnified when LDL gets damaged (oxidized). LDL is easily damaged by free radicals and these particles can wreak havoc on blood vessels. There’s evidence suggesting that ALA can protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, which exerts a cardioprotective effect.
ALA also has the ability to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This is important because sugar is inflammatory, and when it is elevated in the blood, the blood vessels and heart become compromised. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. ALA, can improve insulin sensitivity, which allows sugar to move from the blood into the cells to be used for energy.
A Heart Healthy Diet
Adopting a whole foods diet is the best way to promote overall heart health. Avoiding sugar, vegetable oils and fried foods are the cornerstone of any heart health nutrition program. Always be sure to get around 8 servings of vegetables a day, to increase dietary antioxidant content and to eat a variety of colors!
Given the amount of environmental toxins and stress we’re exposed to, a little supplementation doesn’t hurt either! Together, our Lypo-Spheric™ Vitamin C and Lypo-Spheric™ R- Alpha Lipoic Acid are the perfect pair to keep your heart healthy and your body feeling good!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin