Don’t Let Your Heart Skip A Beat
Christine Cheng (R.Ph.) and Fred Cheng (R.Ph.)
Your heart will beat, on average, 3 billion times by the time you are 75-years-old. Three billion! That is a lot of work demanded of the little muscle which is the size of your fist. Naturally, heart health and maintenance should be of utmost concern regardless of age. Of course, a heart-healthy diet and sound cardiovascular exercise program, accompanied by regular check-ups at your doctor will keep things running in tip-top shape. In addition, there is a lot of interest in the popular media regarding several supplements touted to benefit heart conditions such as congestive heart failure (CHF), heart-valve issues, angina and heart-attacks, and arrhythmias. Currently, three of the most-discussed are coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), L-carnitine and magnesium (Mg). All three of these non-prescription supplements may ultimately benefit heart-muscle health, but are they legit?
As mentioned in our article from February, coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like compound found in the powerplant of every cell in the body, with highest levels in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. CoQ10 is most commonly available as “ubiquinone”, and more recently, “ubiquinol”. Ubiqinone is the oxidized form, 90% of which is converted to the reduced form, ubiquionol, once absorbed into the body. Energy metabolism in muscles such as the heart is highly dependent on the availability of CoQ10. Thus, the concern is that either through the natural aging process, choice of physical activity, or regular use of certain medications, the amount of CoQ10 available in the body may be compromised. For example, by the time we are 80 years old, we may have just a quarter of the CoQ10 concentrations of a 20-year-old; use of prescription statin medications for cholesterol control may further diminish CoQ10 levels. Udo’s QH Plus is a combination of flaxseed oil with ubiquinol derived from yeast. Since ubiquinol is more potent than ubiquinone, you can achieve the same benefits from a lower dose, yet it is generally equally well-tolerated.
L-carnitine is a natural, amino-acid-like cofactor involved in skeletal and cardiac muscle energy metabolism, as well as post-exercise recovery. Patients suffering from heart failure or other cardiac conditions appear to have lower levels of this cofactor. There is promising clinical evidence indicating that patients supplementing with carnitine has improved symptoms, heart function, and exercise tolerance. AOR’s L-Carnitine is a pure L-carnitine formulation. It is generally well-tolerated, and may be especially beneficial in patients not showing improvement on standard prescription therapy. Some people also use carnitine to counter chronic fatigue, and to improve athletic performance.
Magnesium has important roles in muscle and bone metabolism. Adequate magnesium levels are required for healthy bones and for minimizing risks of muscle cramping. Low levels of magnesium also increase a person’s sensitivity to digoxin, a medication often prescribed to control heart-rhythm and heart failure. A patient who is concurrently prescribed a diuretic risks a further reduction of magnesium levels. Most such patients will benefit from supplementation of 20-130mg of magnesium. To minimize risk of suffering from loose stools or diarrhea, your magnesium should be in a well-absorbed form, such as Metagenics’ Mag Glycinate (providing 100mg of elemental Mg per tablet), or a compounded magnesium glycinate such as the one made by Cloverdale Pharmasave (providing 150mg of elemental Mg per capsule).
CoQ10, L-carnitine, and magnesium can all help to maintain and improve your heart in various ways. They are generally safe to take, even altogether, but as usual, be sure to consult your physician and pharmacist regarding your specific case before trying any natural supplement.
Christine and Fred Cheng are a sister-brother pharmacist team at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Cloverdale, BC. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use. They would love to hear from you! Contact them HERE.