Every set, rep and mile, every breath, even your thoughts - ultimately every single one is driven by your heart. As the body’s engine and delivery system, no one escapes the undeniable need for a healthy cardiovascular system. For the driven athlete - such as those living the Crush It lifestyle - the aggregation of marginal gains provided by improving your cardiovascular health promises to elevate performance throughout your fitness regimen.
And yet, few list improving cardiovascular function as a key priority within their fitness goals. You see, while the heart occupies the kind of rarified air reserved for central components of only the most vital bodily systems, its function is involuntary, its improvements invisible. You don’t have to think about beating your heart, it is done for you. What’s more, a well-maintained, highly trained heart muscle won’t get you noticed at the beach.
That said, however, our heart is one of the most important organs in the body and communicates, assists or supports literally every other major organ system. Without an efficient blood supply, your lungs will provide less oxygen to the muscles and access to key nutrients is reduced throughout the body, resulting in less effective workouts and suboptimal recovery. So, due to our passion for fitness, as well as our desire to help our customers improve and actualize their fitness goals, we've developed a clinically backed formulation for our new premier cardiovascular health supplement: Core HEART.
Zinc (as Zinc Bisglycinate Chelate TRAACS®)
Zinc is an essential micronutrient and mineral that has been shown to affect the heart by modulation of cardiomyocyte oxidative stress and maintenance of myocardial structure. When cross sectional studies have been conducted, zinc deficiency has frequently been found to be a common link in those who have suffered heart related traumas. Myocardial tissue requires zinc in small quantities to maintain the extracellular structure formed by matrix metalloproteinases and to serve as a cofactor in free radical oxidation reactions catalyzed by superoxide dismutase (an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells. When chronic inflammation is present, plasma zinc deficiency may lead to a relative deficiency in antioxidant enzymes, ultimately contributing to apoptosis and myocardial necrosis. As the lack of cardio function and zinc levels tend to decline with age, ensuring zinc optimal zinc levels can be of an importance in maintaining cardiac optimal cardiovascular function as one ages
Vitamin K2 (as MenaQ7®, Menaquinone-7)
Adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to significantly benefit cardiovascular function. Lifestyles and eating habits in the traditional western diet can often contribute to an accelerated calcium deposit in blood vessel walls and soft tissues, which can lead to dysfunctional cardiovascular health. Calcium does serve many vital roles in the human body, such as muscle contraction, nerve signaling, blood clotting properties, and blood vessel contraction and expansion. It is also recommended in a supplemental form for those individuals who are suffering from bone related declines for support. So yes, calcium is beneficial for heart health and a wide variety of bodily functions. Where calcium can become less beneficial is when it is overconsumed and renders normal calcium concentrations in the blood ineffective. So, there is evidence to show that serum levels of calcium in the upper normal range increase risk of cardiovascular function declines due to elevated blood clotting and calcium deposition in blood levels.
Enter, vitamin K2, which specifically has been shown to inhibit this arterial calcification and arterial stiffening through its ability to activate matrix GLA protein, which inhibits calcium from forming deposits on the vessel walls. Vitamin K2 also is essential for maintaining blood homeostasis, as well as optimal bone and heart health through its role in inducing calcium use by proteins. With vitamin K2 being almost non-existent in typical diets on the western part of the world (partly due to our traditional eating habits), supplementation can be crucial to lowering risk of cardiovascular function decline. One study conducted using supplemental Vitamin K2 showed that consistent use of small doses (specifically Mena Q7) were enough to improve bone mineral density, bone strength, and cardiovascular health through the mechanisms of action listed above. The increase of calcium usage for purposes of osteoblast usage, increasing arterial elasticity, and reduction in age related arterial stiffening make vitamin K2 an essential mineral for optimal cardiovascular function and health.
Vitamin D3 (as Cholecalciferol)
Vitamin D, in its various forms, is not an essential nutrient – as it is produced endogenously within the body, as a reaction to the skin’s exposure to the sun – and thus not commonly considered a vitamin. Despite its technical classification, vitamin D (a hormone), is nevertheless an import and biologically-active compound, necessary for the calcium homeostasis and metabolism, along with increasing the absorption of magnesium and phosphate.
Hawthorne has been utilized for many centuries for its wide range of health benefits. One of these primary benefits is how it positively affects the cardiovascular system. The berries, or fruit, of the plant contain high amounts of bioflavonoids and proanthocyanidins, substances shown to contain most of the health promoting qualities. These antioxidants have several mechanisms of action on the cardiovascular system. Hypotensive (lowering blood pressure) improvements can be seen through vasorelaxation through the stimulation of nitric oxide production. Several studies have investigated this benefit on blood pressure as well. One human study conducted on individuals with high blood pressure showed that the administration of 1200mg of Hawthorn Berry (slightly more than what we use in this product), noticed substantial improvements in blood pressure when compared to placebo.
Hawthorne Berry can also play a role in preventing atherosclerosis, or a buildup of plaque in the blood vessels that occurs due to an imbalance in blood fat levels (typically high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol). If this plaque continues to accumulate, it can lead to blockages in the blood vessels carrying blood to vital organs, ultimately resulting to heart attack or stroke. Anti-atherosclerotic improvements can be seen through the downregulation of capsase-3 gene expression. The capsase-3 gene is known for being a proapoptotic (cell killing) gene that has been reported in heart failure and myocardial infarction (heart attack). The regulation of lipoprotein lipase (regulates the delivery of fats to body tissues) expression and raised excretion of bile acids can also benefit the arteries. Several animal studies have examined the positive impact of Hawthorne Berries on cholesterol. One study on mice showed that mice given the extract resulted in a lower total and LDL cholesterol, as well as between 30-45% lower liver triglyceride levels compared to mice that were not administered the extract.
On cardiac cells, these antioxidants downregulate capsase-3 gene expression and inhibit 3’,5’-cyclic adenosine monophosphate phosphodiesterase, which can result in an increase in coronary flow, increase in relaxation velocity, and cause a positive inotropic effect (increase the strength of heart muscle contraction).
Olea europaea, more commonly known as the olive, is a species of a small tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of southeastern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa, as well as northern Iran at the south end of the Caspian Sea. As the fruits, oils, and extracts of Olea europaea L. are a dietary component for a significant portion of the world’s population, the plant has become associated with a wide-range of physiologic and metabolic benefits. These properties are largely attributed to the phenolic compounds of olive leaves, including: caffeic acid, verbascoside, oleuropein, luteolin 7-O-glucoside, rutin, apigenin 7-Oglucoside, and luteolin 4′-O-glucoside. Collectively, these olive polyphenols are responsible for a wide-range of postulated health benefits.
Oleuropein, in particular, is purported to have several pharmacological properties including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, and anti-microbial effects. Research shows that olive leaf extract can benefit the heart by helping to prevent LDL cholesterol from building up in the arteries. This process can increase blood flow and lower blood pressure, which can thus reduce the risk of heart disease.
Red Yeast Rice (Monascus purpureus)
Red yeast rice is traditional Asian preparation of the rice grain with an extensive history dating back to 300 BC. The rice is fermented in a culture of yeast called Monascus purpureus, which transfers in bright red coloration to the white rice grains. In part due to its centuries of use in traditional Chinese medicine, red yeast rice is widely recommended in regimens intended to help establish normal cardiac function and lipid profiles.
More recent studies suggest the fungal metabolites found within red yeast rice demonstrate a positive impact on cholesterol and cardiac function. Specifically, a fungal secondary metabolite found within red yeast rice, known as monacolin K, has been shown to of particular interest. The primary mechanism of action of monacolin K is inhibition of the key enzyme, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase, involved in cholesterol synthesis. Upon further evaluation of the lipid lowering properties of red yeast rice, recent research revealed them to be multifactorial, including the ability to downregulate the rate limiting step of hepatic cholesterol biosynthesis in a dose-dependent manner, indirectly cause an upregulation or availability of LDL-receptors in the liver, and possibly increase the hepatic excretion of bile acids, thereby creating an increased need for the availability of intrahepatic cholesterol for use in the synthesis of additional bile. The reduced intrahepatic cholesterol concentrations result in the upregulation or availability of LDL-receptors in the liver. The purpose of these additional LDL-receptors is to pull cholesterol out of circulation and bring it into the liver as a replacement for the reduced production inside the liver. When this happens, the plasma cholesterol levels will decrease through a reduction in the hepatic synthesis of cholesterol and through an increase in the removal of circulating cholesterol from blood plasma into the liver for use. These actions can help restore cholesterol levels to where they benefit cardiac and other bodily function. Note: If you are taking other statins or other cholesterol lowering medication, please consult with your physician prior to supplementing with Core HEART.
Bergamot Fruit Extract (Citrus aurantium bergamia) (30% Polyphenols)
Bergamot, a citrus fruit native to southern Italy, has often been used to improve immunity and cardiovascular function. These benefits have been traced back to the phytochemicals and flavonoids that are contained within bergamot. Multiple studies have been conducted to show the efficacy of orally administered bergamot on reductions in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol 1, where the end goal is the restoration of overall cardiovascular function and vessel health. The primary mechanism of action for the therapeutic phytochemicals found within bergamot is the inhibition of oxidation of low-density lipoprotein particles. When oxidation occurs to LDL particles, it produces a harmful form of cholesterol because of the damage caused by free radicals. This oxidative damage has been specifically linked to altered cardiovascular blood flow and cardiovascular vessel diseases. Phytochemicals such as naringin, neoeriocitrin, and rutin have been shown in vitro to possess antioxidant properties and ability to lower the oxidation of LDL particles.
In addition to the animal studies, several human trials have been conducted analyzing the benefits of bergamots. One 2011 randomized, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial looked at the impact of bergamot administration for 90 days on total cholesterol, LDL levels, and HDL levels in patients. The results showed that 500mg of bergamot reduced total cholesterol (20%) and LDL (23%), while increasing HDL levels (26%). This is just one example but results of other studies show promise in bergamot’s cholesterol improving benefits as well as optimizing overall cardiovascular function.
Turmeric is a root endemic to certain regions of Southeast Asia and India, and has been a staple in the Siddha traditional medicinal system for thousands of years. Turmeric is noted in Siddha texts for various uses, including as an ancient equivalent of an anti-microbial agent.
More recently, numerous studies seem to suggest that its primary bioactive constituent, curcumin, powerfully inhibits the enzymes that synthesize inflammatory compounds such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. In particular, basic research and molecular studies have now firmly established curcumin’s ability to dose-dependently and potently inhibit a transcription factor known as NF–kB – a molecule involved in the proliferation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, soft tissue destruction, and autoimmune responses.
Though turmeric contains approximately 5% curcumin by weight, we have used a highly standardized extract of 95% - recognizing that the wealth of research on curcumin demands that it be included in clinical serving sizes.
Resveratrol is a polyphenolic stilbene produced by various plants. Trace amounts of resveratrol can be obtained from certain foods but the clinical doses used for studies involving cardiovascular function are at much higher concentrations than can be likely received through dietary means. While the half life of resveratrol is relatively low (4-8 hours) after oral administration, a large number of animal studies have shown beneficial effects for cardiovascular function. The specific mechanisms of action for resveratrol are somewhat unclear, but studies have shown many positive benefits tracing back to decreases in oxidative stress response, increases in endothelial function, leading to more efficient diastolic function, cardiac remodeling, myocardial energetics, and vascular function. The proposed mechanism for the inflammation mediating effects can be brought back to an increased activation of the silent information regulator factor 2 related enzyme 1 (SIRT1). SIRT1 has been shown to protect against cardiac decline related inflammation. When studied, cells from mice with a SIRT1 knockout have shown increased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels. With resveratrol being a known activator of SIRT1 in animals, it is led to believe that the same mechanism can be beneficial in humans. This mechanism, along with other benefits on blood pressure (increased NO production), make resveratrol a valuable compound in establishing normal cardiac function and baselines of cardiac health.
Coenzyme Q10 (Ubidecarenone)
Coenzyme Q10, which is synthesized in the mitochondrial inner membrane, is an essential compound that plays many vital roles in the human body. Of these many roles, it is a key component in the electron transport chain in mitochondria necessary for ATP production. CoQ10 can also act as an intercellular antioxidant, protecting the plasmatic membrane against peroxidation. CoQ10 deficiency has been associated with less-than-optimal health status in organisms and has contributed to certain degenerative states involving blood sugar, the cardiovascular system, and musculoskeletal system. In relation to the cardiovascular system, oxidative stress is one of the main causes of cardiac decline. The antioxidant properties of CoQ10 are of particular importance in establishing normal function. It has been shown that individuals suffering from cardiac related abnormalities have significantly lower levels of CoQ10 as opposed to those with higher levels. With antioxidant effect and free radical neutralization being the primary mechanism of action, CoQ10 exhibits a secondary mechanism of action of well in playing a large role in the heart’s energetic needs. The process of cardiac contraction requires the release of Ca2+ from the SR and the following activation of the contractile proteins requires energy. It is believed that when there is myocardial failure, it is caused by a reduction in the production of energy from the mitochondria. This goes back to CoQ10s property of being a main component in the transport of electrons that are needed for ATP production. These two mechanisms of action have a particular importance for one’s quality of life as well as in maintaining proper cardiovascular function.
Bioperine® (Black Pepper Extract) (std. to 95% Piperine)
BioPerine® is a patented standardized extract from the fruit of Piper nigrum (black pepper). It’s studied benefits have shown improvements in bioavailability of nutrients it is surrounded by. In this specific product for Core HEART, it is included because it dramatically increases the bioavailability of curcuminoids (see above). Without Bioperine, the serum concentration and absorption rates of the active agents in curcumin would be significantly reduced.
BioPerine® primarily works through mechanisms and channels that can inhibit intestinal motility and dilate blood vessels of the intestines (where absorption of nutrients occurs). This physiological action may cause increased absorption and digestion of nutrients.
Several studies looking at the impact of BioPerine® on nutrient absorption have been done. One study looking at the efficacy of BioPerine® on serum concentrations of curcumin showed bioavailability was improved by more than 500%. Therapeutic effectiveness of curcumin has often been exhibited as low. Another study conducted over the course of 6 weeks on BioPerine® influence on serum selenium levels in humans showed an increase by 145% over the presupplementation value.
With promising research being done on the effects of BioPerine® in the context of nutrient absorption and bioavailability, it is only fitting that we include it in Core HEART.