Two nutrients that can slash your heart risk

In one corner, there's a drug being pushed on everyone in the name of heart health despite only the flimsiest evidence of benefits and plenty of evidence of risk.

In the other, there's a tag-team supplement duo proven to give you a much bigger benefit than that med ever will -- and they come with virtually no risk at all.

Which one would you pick? Do I even have to ask?

The drugs, of course, are statins -- and as I told you last week, researchers are trying to get everyone over the age of 50 to start taking them.

If the idea of diabetes and muscle pain appeals to you, then go ahead and follow that advice. But if you'd rather find a safe way to cut your risk of death by heart disease in half, take the one-two punch of selenium and coenzyme Q10 instead.

Researchers randomly assigned 443 Swedish seniors between the ages of 70 and 88 to either 200 mg per day of coenzyme Q10 capsules along with 200 mcg per day of organic selenium yeast tablets or a placebo for up to four years.

In that time, 12.6 percent of those on the placebo died of cardiovascular disease, versus just 5.9 percent of those who got the selenium and CoQ10.

Those numbers are impressive enough. But that wasn't the only proof these nutrients can work wonders. Cardiac ECHO tests showed that patients who took the supplements had much better cardiac function than those who got the placebos.

In another test, researchers found that patients who took the supplements had lower levels of N-terminal proBNP, a marker of tension in the heart, when compared to those on the placebo.

The researchers even found the reason the two work so much better together than either do on their own: Selenium helps boost the activity of a protein known as TrxR1 that in turn helps maximize the efficiency of the CoQ10.

Like I said earlier, there's really no risk to taking these -- and I often recommend both to my patients anyway. Just bear in mind that when it comes to selenium, "more" isn't necessarily "better."

In fact, too much can be dangerous -- so if you already have plenty of selenium from diet or if your multivitamin contains the mineral, you probably don't need to add more.

And if you're not already taking CoQ10, be sure to add some along with a few of my other favorites for heart protection: L-Carnitine, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.

For advanced cardiovascular testing make an appointment at my clinic, the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

I'm not done with natural ways to lower your heart risk yet -- keep reading for the latest on another nutrient you definitely need.