The research abounds with studies on nutritional supplements that can be helpful support in heart disease. I’d like to focus on 3 different particularly good nutritional approaches: fish oil, arginine and homocysteine-reduction nutrients. One of the reasons for this focus is that recent research shows these heart nutrients also have favorable effects on bone formation, something of interest to every chiropractor!
New and important markers now being monitored include C-reactive protein, or CRP (marker of inflammation, now believed to be a component in CVD etiology), and fibrinogen. High quality fish oil (scrutinize for pharmaceutical grade and toxin screening!) has the ability to lower CRP, fibrinogen, cholesterol, triglycerides, platelet integrin, and thrombin, AND have a favorable effect on arrhythmias and heart failure.1 In fact, “The inverse correlation between CRP and DHA (the long chain omega 3 fatty acid from fish) may reflect an anti-inflammatory effect of DHA in patients with stable coronary artery disease and suggest a novel mechanism by which fish consumption may decrease the risk of coronary artery disease.”2
Arginine is a precursor for nitric oxide (NO), which is essential to dilate blood vessels, allowing adequate blood flow to the heart and all tissues and organs. There are over 1600 references in the literature to arginine and heart disease. In a sample abstract, oral supplementation with L-arginine, which has postulated antioxidant activity, prolonged exercise duration, most likely due to the NO-induced peripheral vasodilatation.3 Arginine is described as having “known atheroprotective effects”.4
Homocysteine is of proven toxicity in heart disease, and no one would dispute the fact that lowering it is a good idea. Homocysteine-lowering nutrients (folic acid, vitamin B-12, vitamin B-6, dimethylglycine, trimethylglycine) actively help CVD risk by facilitating the pathway, where natural sulfur is made at the end of that path. Making sure you are replete in molybdenum (needed to detoxify the sulfur metabolite at the end of the path and make it into the essential building block that sulfur is) or including it in a synergistic nutritional formula is a good idea. In one of the most recent articles on homocysteine, it is postulated that the mechanism of increased risk from high levels is tied to inflammation.5
Dr. Toohey received her Ph.D. in nutrition from Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. She has lectured to chiropractors and other health professionals across the country and also in Canada and Europe, including: the British Society for Allergy Environmental and Nutritional Medicine, the MS Society, the International College of Applied Kinesiology, the United Chiropractors of New Mexico, and the Florida Chiropractic Association. You may reach Dr. Toohey by e-mail at