Vitamins to prevent heart disease? For real!

Judy is a 42 year old woman who came in to see me for her annual checkup. She has little to complain about. Generally feeling great, she leads a fairly healthy lifestyle. She eats a balanced diet that is low in fat, high in fruits and vegetables and she keeps an eye on her carb consumption. She exercises regularly. She does not smoke and she drinks moderately. She gets her mammogram. Overall Judy is doing everything we recommend. However, one thing concerns me and her. We worry about her risk of heart disease. Judy wonders if there are vitamins to take to prevent heart disease. She has a father who died of a heart attack in his early 40s and a brother who, at close to 50, has had multiple heart related procedures, but thanks to modern medicine and a healthy lifestyle, is living a normal life.

Clearly Judy’s family history puts her at great risk than average for this all too common problem. One of her biggest health concerns is how to prevent heart disease. Realistically, more women (and men) should be concerned about preventing this common killer. Heart disease remains the number one cause of death for both men and women in this country, leading to one in four deaths.

Women gain some natural protection from heart disease from our hormones. However, once we hit menopause (even if we take hormone replacement– a very controversial topic) our risk rises dramatically. We may get hit later in life, but unfortunately women are still very much at risk of heart attack and stroke. So family history or not, we should all be concerned about heart disease. What can we do to prevent heart disease? Are there vitamins for heart disease?

We can start with the basics:

Stop smoking! This is the number one risk enhancer. It compounds any other risk factor you may have and makes your chance of heart attack or stroke rise dramatically. If you quit smoking your risk of heart disease returns to that of none smoker in just two years! It is weal worth the effort to kick this difficult habit.

Get in shape. Even a minimal amount of exercise is better than none. A goal is 40 minute most days of the week. But even 10 minutes of walking a day beats none.

Work on a diet that is balanced. There is much written on this and some conflicting data. However most experts will agree that a largely plant based diet, with lean meats, fish and whole grains are the pillars of heart healthy eating.

Take the right vitamins! A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that women who took multivitamins for more than three years had a lower risk of death from heart disease than did women who did not (all other factors being equal). This is compelling evidence that suggests that taking the right vitamins does confer a benefit to heart health. In the past we have talked about other vitamins playing a role in heart disease, namely omega 3 fatty acids (typically found in fish oil) and niacin which is a B vitamin (however this has fallen out of favor due to some recent data suggesting niacin is not helpful in actually reducing heart disease).

However it seems that there may be a role for some other vitamins. On one hand this is not surprising, as most multivitamins provide people with many antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins C, E and D among others. Yet some common multivitamin ingredients have other negative associations (such as supplemental Vitamin A which may increase cancer and osteoporosis risk). So what is a person to do? One does not want to take a vitamin to prevent heart disease and find they are putting them at risk for other conditions. So yes, there are vitamins for heart disease prevention but, finding the right vitamins to take it the key (try our vitamin quiz).

We propose taking the combination of vitamins that best suits your needs based on your diet, lifestyle and health history. This custom vitamin regimen may include a range of vitamins including Vitamins E, D, C, magnesium and certain B vitamins in varied amounts. You can find a custom all in one vitamin tailored to your needs that will give you just what you need and not things that can potentially cause harm. Take our vitamin survey to get what you need.

As a physician I counseled Judy that one component of her heart healthy lifestyle that was lacking, was in fact the right custom vitamin. In the discussion we discovered that osteoporosis prevention was also a concern and these needs would also be met with the right vitamins.

She continues to do all the right things in her lifestyle, but now has an extra bit of reassurance. She is fortunate to have good cholesterol numbers and blood pressure readings which, if abnormal, are also key risk factors. However, adding her custom vitamin regimen may address some needs that even the healthiest of eaters can not. Certainly more remains to be understood about exactly how nutrients help prevent heart disease.

As physicians we not only treat sick people, but we spend a good part of our days working to prevent disease as well. An ounce of prevention goes a long way. Helping our patients find the right vitamins(take our vitamin quiz) to suite their individual needs is one of the many ways we can help them avoid future problems.


Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health.  She is a mother of three teen agers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients.  After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take,  Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.

The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.

photo credit:Shimelle Laine

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