Vitamins are essential to maintain cardiovascular diseases. Include these 6 essential vitamins for heart health in your diet to ward off the risk.

Did you know heart-related problems are one of the leading causes of death in the world? As per the data by the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases account for more than 17 million lives every year. While there are several factors that increase the risk of developing a heart condition, following an unhealthy diet is at the top of the list. There are certain food groups that you need to focus on to keep heart diseases at bay, and one such group is vitamins. If you do not know the best vitamins for your heart, scroll down to learn more.

Vitamins for heart: Why are they important?

Just like any other nutrient, vitamins are crucial for maintaining heart health by supporting different psychological functions. Dr Nishith Chandra, Principal Director-Interventional Cardiology at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, says, “Vitamins help reduce inflammation, control blood pressure, and prevent the buildup of harmful substances in the arteries, all of which are risk factors for developing heart diseases.”

Vitamins also help maintain the proper functioning of blood vessels, ensuring the proper functioning of the cardiovascular system. Deficiencies in essential vitamins can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, emphasizing the importance of adequate intake through diet or supplementation.

Essential vitamins for heart health

1. Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin, this one plays an important role when it comes to maintaining your heart health. According to a study published in the Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine found that low levels of vitamin D can increase the risk of heart disease. Having enough vitamin D can help regulate blood pressure and improve the function of the cardiovascular system. While sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D, you can also include foods such as oily foods, red meat, liver, egg yolks, and fortified foods to increase your vitamin D intake.

6 essential vitamins to maintain heart health
Eat foods high in vitamin D to maintain heart health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Vitamin B6

Also known as pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is one of the essential vitamins your body needs to stay healthy. A deficiency in vitamin B6 can elevate the risk of cardiovascular diseases, states a study published in the Sub-cellular Biochemistry. It helps reduce the levels of homocysteine, a type of amino acid associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Pork, fish, peanuts, oats, bananas, milk, some fortified breakfast cereals, soybeans, and wheat germ are good sources of vitamin B6.

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3. Vitamin B12

Just like vitamin B6, vitamin B12 is essential to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood. A vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia, the chances of which can be reduced with proper intake of vitamin B12-rich foods, found in a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Include fish, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified breakfast cereals, and meat in your diet.

4. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that is required to maintain your overall health, including cardiovascular diseases. Known for its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps protect the arterial walls from damage, reduces inflammation, and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is a key factor in the development of atherosclerosis, says Dr Chandra. You should eat citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, potatoes, and blackcurrants.

5. Vitamin E

Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E helps prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and improves overall vascular health by maintaining the elasticity of blood vessels. A study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics found that including foods rich in vitamin E has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, avocado, peanut butter, fish, and red bell peppers, are foods rich in vitamin E.

6. Vitamin K

Important for blood clotting, vitamin K also helps in preventing the calcification of arteries, thereby reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, explains Dr Chandra. A study published in Current Nutrition Reports, vitamin K helps maintain cardiovascular disease, especially in people who have high-risk and chronic kidney disease patients.

What is the most essential vitamin for heart?

While all the vitamins mentioned above are essential for maintaining heart health, Dr Chandra says vitamin D is the most significant vitamin for heart. “Adequate levels of vitamin D are crucial for maintaining heart function, regulating blood pressure, and reducing the risk of heart disease. Given its role in calcium metabolism and its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased incidence of heart-related issues. Ensuring sufficient vitamin D through sunlight exposure, diet, and supplements is vital for cardiovascular health,” he adds.

Tips for a stronger heart

Apart from including vitamins in your diet, here are some ways that will help strengthen your heart:

1. Regular exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity strengthens the heart muscle, improves blood circulation, and helps maintain a healthy weight. A study published in the Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine found that exercise can help reduce your risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease and decrease the risk of myocardial infarction (MI).

2. Eat a healthy diet

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats supports overall heart health. Limiting the intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium is crucial.

3. Avoid smoking

Smoking can increase the risk factor for heart disease by reducing the flow of blood to the heart. As per the data from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, quitting smoking can improve heart health and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

smoking or vaping
Smoking can increase your risk of heart disease. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Manage stress

Did you know chronic stress can have a negative impact on your heart health? Stress triggers the production of the hormone cortisol, which increases blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure, all of which are factors that increase heart disease risk, found in a study published in the study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Also Read: Here’s why stress management is key to maintaining good heart health

5. Go for regular health screenings

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help monitor heart health parameters such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose, allowing for early intervention if needed, advises the expert. This will help reduce the overall risk of developing heart disease.

In short, maintaining adequate vitamin levels, particularly vitamin D, and following a healthy lifestyle can help maintain your heart health.

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