Protecting the Hearts of the Young and the Old
By Christine Cheng, R.Ph.
More than 1.4 million Canadians have heart disease and approximately 90% of Canadians over the age of 20 have at least one risk factor for heart disease which includes smoking, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, being overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stress. That’s right; no longer is heart disease a concern of the middle-aged and elderly, with today’s hectic lifestyle making it difficult for us to find time to take care of ourselves, even the young have to start thinking about what we can do to protect our hearts.
It’s not surprising that there are so many supplements on the market that target heart health. Although it is not all-encompassing, PROVASCIN ®, a new supplement by Purica is a combination product that aims to improve the function of and protect the heart from multiple angles. It is a blend of Coenzyme Q10, l-carnitine, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, betaine, chaga, alpha lipoic acid, and Nutricol ®. This article briefly reviews the purpose of each ingredient and how it may help with preventing heart disease.
COENZYME Q10 (Co-Q10) is a vitamin-like compound that is found in just about every cell in the body, and in especially high concentrations in the heart, liver, kidney, and pancreas. It has antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing properties and is key in the production of energy in the cells. Co-Q10 can help with arterial relaxation, which can result in decreased blood pressure. It can also improve cholesterol levels by increasing “good” high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and decreasing “bad” low-density lipoproteins (LDL) as well as total cholesterol levels.
L-CARNITINE is an amino acid that helps energy production in cells by transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, which is where the energy-producing biochemical reactions take place in the cell. Its supplementation appears to improve symptoms of and exercise tolerance in those with angina and/or congestive heart failure. L-carnitine may affect the uptake of thyroid hormone into cells therefore it could theoretically affect the efficacy of thyroid replacement medications.
ALPHA-KETOGLUTARIC ACID is included in this formula for its reported ability to bind to ammonia in the blood and thus reduce its potential to damage the heart, blood vessels, brain, kidneys and other tissues. Even though this benefit has only been proven in patients on haemodialysis, it is interesting to note that alpha-ketoglutarate is used during heart surgery to increase the oxidative capacity of the heart muscle as well as post-surgery for preventing muscle breakdown.
BETAINE is a derivative of the amino acid glycine and is found in many foods including wheat, shellfish, spinach, and sugar beets. It can lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage arteries and potentially lead to atherosclerosis and blood clot formation. Through a similar mechanism, betaine also has protective benefits for the liver.
CHAGA is a medicinal mushroom with powerful antioxidant properties. It also has adaptogenic properties, i.e., it can help the body adapt to stress, which would help mitigate stress as a risk factor for heart disease.
ALPHA-LIPOIC ACID is an antioxidant that can increase insulin sensitivity and decrease fasting blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. This is important because high blood glucose levels can cause glycation (the bonding of a sugar with a protein) to occur. When this happens in the heart and arteries, it could leave to stiffening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
NUTRICOL® is a proprietary blend of antioxidants derived from green tea and grapes that has anti-inflammatory and anti-catabolic properties. It can increase insulin sensitivity, thus theoretically decrease blood glucose levels. This blend is also an important part of Purica’s flagship formula, Recovery ®, which is highly effective for healing and pain-relief.
The basic goal of this product is to try and reduce some of the risk factors for heart disease. It should be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Those with existing cardiovascular disease should check with their doctor prior to initiating any exercise regimen. At a dose of 3 capsules a day, it is an easy way for those in general good health to get the health benefits of multiple nutraceuticals in one product.
Christine is a registered pharmacist with training in Natural Health Products and a passion for Integrative Medicine. She works alongside her brother, Fred at their unique family-owned and operated Pharmasave in Downtown Cloverdale, BC. They specialize in natural remedies and compounding for both human and veterinarian use.