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Home > ANTIOXIDANTS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
ANTIOXIDANTS FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTHby Dave Foreman
Building a strong foundation is critical for your health—and antioxidants are a critical element in the structure of your health regimen. When selecting antioxidants, it is important to focus on those that are targeted to a specific health issue that you are either trying to treat or prevent, rather than just taking a general antioxidant. I will explain further below, but first, let’s have a quick refresher course on free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are mutant oxygen molecules that destroy the body’s cells from the inside and out. They are introduced to the body in several different ways, the most common of which is via metabolism. Our bodies operate just like cars: we take in fuel, burn it, and get energy and exhaust. If the exhaust (free radicals) is not neutralized or vented, the car (your body) will eventually perform poorly, or stop working altogether.
Another way we are exposed to free radicals is through our environment. Environmental sources of free radicals include exposure to radiation (x-rays, sun exposure), cigarette smoke, unsaturated fats, alcohol, ozone, automobile exhaust, heavy metals and many other sources found in our air, water and foods). You can’t hide from them, and if you do not take a proactive approach, you will most likely end up with one or more of the health conditions that are now linked to free radical damage—like cardiovascular disease.In your cardiovascular system, the number one reason we develop plaque in our arteries is due to inflammation caused by toxins and free radicals. So what is a person to do?
I recommend a two-pronged approach. First: eat foods high in antioxidants such as fruits (especially berries), vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans; second: supplement with additional antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and selenium, as well as more powerful antioxidants such as CoQ10 (or ubiquinol), pycnogenol, resveratrol, turmeric, grape seed and green tea. I recommend finding out what antioxidants are good for your particular health needs and using four or five of them together.
CoQ10 or Ubiquinol
Out of all of the many antioxidant supplements, I want to focus in on two compounds in particular: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and ubiquinol. CoQ10 (ubiquinone) has been taken as a supplement by millions of people over the past thirty years. CoQ10 is considered one of the more powerful fat-soluble antioxidants and is naturally produced in the body. In my opinion, it is the MOST important antioxidant you can use for the prevention and elimination of cardiovascular disease. It also plays a vital role in the energy production process that occurs within your cells. Ubiquinol is amore easily absorbed formof CoQ10.
Both ubiquinone and ubiquinol are critical to the cellular ATP (energy) production cycle.Without the presence of both ubiquinone and ubiquinol within the body’s cells, cellular energy cannot be generated or sustained.
As we age, ubiquinone (CoQ10) levels begin to decrease (beginning around the age of 20). Additionally, the body’s ability to convert these declining levels of CoQ10 into ubiquinol (the reduced active form) is also diminished with age. Without proper levels in the body, the body produces less energy, and lacks a strong defense against free radicals, which are linked to many of our major health challenges.
Due to its established role in the body’s energy production process, ubiquinol should increase energy, stamina and general wellness in most people, especially in those who cannot efficiently convert CoQ10 into ubiquinol. Ubiquinone (CoQ10) will continue to be an important supplement for those who want to maintain good health in their 20s and 30s. Ubiquinol however, will be of particular importance for those, like me, who are over 40.
My personal results with ubiquinol are amazing. I switched from CoQ10 to ubiquinol when I first learned about it a few years ago. I felt the difference immediately. I can only surmise that I had not been absorbing my CoQ10 or converting it into the active form. Initially, I would suggest taking 200-300mg of ubiquinol per day for a week, and then drop back to 50-100mg per day. I take 200mg per day on the days I do cardiovascular exercise and 100mg per day on the alternate day.
Statin alert! If you are currently using a statin medication, you should consider using at least 60mg per day of ubiquinol or CoQ10 to make up for what might be depleting by taking your medication. Personally, I would consume more due to the fact that you must have other risk factors for cardiovascular disease other than elevated cholesterol levels. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Pycnogenol is a great cardiovascular-support antioxidant. Not only does it have a direct impact on heart health, but it has also been shown to benefit people with vascular issues such as varicose veins. Other uses such as diabetes, ADHD, ED, anti-aging, skin health, retinopathy,muscle soreness and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) make this a great antioxidant not just for cardiovascular disease, but formost diseases. Use 100mg as part of your foundational cardiovascular program. For severe cases of CVI, doses of 200mg-300mg per day work great until you feel relief, then 100mg per day is the best dose for prevention.
Because of its antioxidant activity and its effect on platelets, resveratrol is the great addition to your cardio-protective program. Doses of resveratrol seemto be all over themap. In the food source,we can consume over 500mcg in one glass of wine (resveratrol is sourced from red grapes), while the supplement versions provide upwards of 500mg. I believe this variance is due to the fact that we get better digestion, absorption and utilization of nutrients when they are in a food, versus standing alone (like a chemical).
Turmeric is one of my favorite all-round antioxidants. I wish I could write more about its benefits to your body aside from cardiovascular disease. In addition to its potent antioxidant properties, turmeric also helps reduce inflammation in the body. By decreasing inflammation in your cardiovascular system, you can take greater steps towards treating and preventing adverse cardiovascular events. Turmeric also helps to reduce the “clumping” action of platelets, which in turn helps with the prevention of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
If you are open to it, try using this amazing spice in your daily cooking. We started (well, I started; I am the cook in our house) using turmeric in and on our foods. On the days that I can incorporate turmeric into our food, I don’t take my supplement version.
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is very similar in action to both pycnogenol and resveratrol. I often use pycnogenol and grape seed interchangeably, including the dosing.
Green tea is a key part of my antioxidant arsenal. It is rich in polyphenols (specifically EGCG), which are great for heart health. Green tea’s specific benefits for cardiovascular disease are not only as a potent antioxidant, but also in helping to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, decrease the “stickiness” of platelets and reduce the “oxidation” of cholesterol.
I suggest consuming green tea as a tea instead of buying a supplement. When brewed properly (no more than 3 minutes), it contains little caffeine and has no impact on raising blood pressure (in my opinion). My logic on drinking green tea instead of popping another pill is that you need to drink something throughout the day and why not weave a part of your heart-healthy program into your diet?
The key thing to remember is that you should use a variety of these antioxidants and not just focus on one source. I use ubiquinol and turmeric in supplement form each day, and drink a cup or two of green tea each day as well. Each antioxidant possesses different attributes to help support and maintain my cardiovascular system.