Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Best Practices for a Healthy Heart Step 6: Supplements and Herbs
My book, Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to Stop Heart Disease Before or After it Starts, was published this spring by The Experiment publishing house, and is distributed by Workman. In the book, I outline seven important steps that will help you to achieve optimum heart health and provide you with powerful protection against stroke, dementia, and even cancer.
We’ve gone through Step One (Know Your Numbers), Step Two (Eat Well to Live Better), Step Three (Learn How to Take a Break without Checking Out), Step Four (Get a Move On), and Step 5 (Use Your Common Sense). Step Six (Know Your Options) covers a wide range of conventional and alternative healthcare practices. Last month, I told you a little about my medical training and how I meet the requirements for ongoing medical board certification. I also explained that while we doctors are very good at prescribing pills and doing procedures and operations, there is a great deal that you, as an individual, can do to reduce your need for healthcare.
I owe a huge debt to my patients for compelling me to investigate much of the information in Step Six. I realized early on in my medical practice that I simply didn’t know enough about vitamins, minerals, and supplements to address the questions that many of my patients were most curious about. As a result, I made it my mission and my responsibility to learn as much as I could, so that I could be sure that the guidance I was giving was as up-to-date and relevant as my conventional medical advice.
Since there is such a wide diversity of options, it’s impossible to give a blanket statement about supplements, but what I have come to understand and respect is that Mother Nature really does know best. With some important exceptions, most notably omega-3 supplements and vitamin D, most of us are much better off getting our nutrition from whole food, rather than a pill. Food in its natural state is incredibly complex, with nutrients balanced in a beautiful harmony. When we overload our system with megadoses of vitamins and other nutrients, we often upset that balance and can do actual harm to ourselves. Good examples of best intentions gone awry include antioxidant vitamins, high dose folic acid (which may increase cancer cell growth), and calcium supplements, which may increase the risk for heart disease.
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