Damage Control

Damage Control

Best For: Lowering Blood Pressure

CoQ10
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 for short) gooses every cell in the body into functioning at its peak. Cells that make up high-energy organs like the heart require more CoQ10 than cells in less-hardworking parts of the body like the fingernails. Although your body makes its own CoQ10 supply, reserves dwindle as you age, and heart disease takes an extra toll. High blood pressure depletes CoQ10 stores, making the heart weaker, so the vicious cycle continues. But you can boost your heart's stash of energy by supplementing with CoQ10. In a 2007 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Human Hypertension, scientists distilled the evidence from 12 CoQ10 studies and found a significant decrease in high blood pressure among volunteers who took the supplement. "Anyone who has any form of heart disease stands to benefit from CoQ10," says Roberts. "It helps to meet the needs of an overworked heart." Here's another case for combining conventional and complementary medicine: While statins can save lives, the drugs impede the body's ability to make CoQ10. "If you take a statin, it will lower your CoQ10 level by 50 percent," says Roberts. "However, if you take CoQ10 with your statin, you'll get the benefit of the drug without any of the downside."

Buying guide
Since it needs fat in order to be absorbed into the body, CoQ10 is best taken either with food or in an oil-based softgel, like Nature Made's CoQ10 or CoQ-Zyme 30 from Biotics Research, rather than as a dry tablet.

Dosage
30 to 300 mg daily.

Carnitine
Carnitine is an amino acid that helps turn fat into fuel by pulling fat molecules out of the bloodstream and ushering them into cells, where they are burned. Carnitine is vital for heart health; whereas most muscles like to burn sugar, the heart prefers to burn fat. And while a healthy body makes enough carnitine to meet the heart's needs, when the heart is weakened, supplemental carnitine can ferry extra fuel to the hardworking muscle. In studies, carnitine has been used with conventional drug therapy to ameliorate symptoms of chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and congestive heart failure. But Roberts also recommends it to his patients with high blood pressure. "Both CoQ10 and carnitine are necessary to accommodate the increased demand of the heart under stress," he says.

Buying guide
To get measurable benefits, try a supplement like Biotics Research L-Carnitine Powder or liquid L-Carnitine from Nature's Answer.

Dosage
2 to 4 g of L-Carnitine a day for best results.