February is heart month, and many of us know that Co-enzyme Q10 and Omega-3 Essential fatty acids are good for our hearts, but why is this? And what are the other issues to consider regarding cardiovascular health?
Remember that your heart beats for your entire life, (hopefully without interruption), and for this it requires a constant source of Energy! Energy that is generated by your cellular furnaces called mitochondria in the form of ATP, using oxygen in the process. Co-enzyme Q10 plays an integral part in this process, as can a set of other natural substances which enable the mitochondria to do their job.  These include important minerals like magnesium, and potent antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, L-carnitine, resveratrol, and astaxanthin. .
Not only is magnesium essential for energy production, but it is also necessary for the relaxation of your heart muscle, as well as the smooth muscle surrounding your arteries...hence its utility for preventing hypertension.  Magnesium also help maintains the balance between other necessary heart minerals such as calcium, sodium and potassium, and a deficiency of this all-important mineral can create inflammatory immune responses.  To explain, consider that if a furnace, (your mitochondria), runs 24/7, it's going to let off a lot of "sparks" and "heat" in the form of free radicals and oxidative stress. If there is enough sparks and heat that it injures your tissues, this can create inflammation, i.e.,"turn into a flame." Inflammation can also be generated by your immune system in an attempt to protect us. But like a patrol officer trying to kill invaders with a blow-torch, your body can be damaged in the process. For example, when you are fighting a virus or bacteria. (Note, from a chemical perspective, since burning something means oxidizing it, these analogies actually have a basis in fact.)
Here's where antioxidants and anti-inflammatories are so critical. You can think of them like water to cool the heat, calm the sparks, and quench the flame. This is one of the main reasons why omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, are supportive for the heart, i.e., their highly anti-inflammatory properties. Yet, they are far from the only cardio-protective supplements available.
Alpha Lipoic acid (ALA) has been described as a "free-radical mop" for the mitochondria, and has shown direct cardiovascular benefits for heart disease, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Being soluble in both fat and water, ALA helps protect all our tissues, and has nerve-regenerating properties.  In fact, some of our clients have recently reported that it has helped them regain their sense of smell after illness. (Stay tuned for more on this in a future blog this month.)
L-carnitine is not only an important antioxidant for heart cells, but is what allows us to burn fat as a source of fuel, being essential to get fat into the mitochondria so it can be burned.  This helps clear fatty acids from our bloodstream.  Since fat is a dense source of calories the net effect is that your heart produces more energy, and is protected in the process. 
L-Carnitine was discussed further in a previous article: 'L-Carnitine: Burn Fat, Increase Energy, Improve Your Health!'
Resveratrol has been the topic of a huge amount of interest. Not only for its anti-aging effects, due to its ability to repair genetic damage by activating sirtuin enzymes, but also for its cardio-protective, and potential cholesterol-lowering effects.   Not surprisingly it is also highly antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory.  If you would like to read more see previous article: The many benefits of resveratrol.
Astaxanthin is another potent antioxidant that has been studied for it highly cardio-protective effects.  When you take astaxanthin as it naturally occurs in Krill Oil it is not only easy to absorb, but you also get the benefits of its anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fats EPA and DHA... a huge bonus for your heart. Part 2 of this blog topic will “branch out” from the heart, and talk more about how to keep your arteries clear and flexible.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6131403/ - co Q 10
- https://openheart.bmj.com/content/5/2/e000775 - magnesium
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4407629/ -alpha lipoic acid
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6021160/ -alpha lipoic acid
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21791201/ - carnitine
- https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29241711/ - carnitine
- https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2012.00141/full - resveratrol