By: Root Naturopath, Dr. Katherine Walker, ND
Your heart beats approximately 86,400 times a day, day after day, year after year. As the month of February brings awareness to American Heart Health Month, we wanted to take this time as a reminder for prevention. Heart disease can often be PREVENTED when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. At Root Whole Body, we recognize the deep importance of nutrient-dense, whole food as a pillar of foundational health. Below are five essential nutrients that bestow powerful heart protection and what to what for that may indicate a deficiency.
Magnesium, the ultimate “anti-stress” nutrient, provides calming effects on the cardiovascular and nervous systems. It relaxes, or dilates arteries, which lowers blood pressure, thereby reducing strain on the system and making it easier for the heart to pump blood. Magnesium is also essential for a normal heartbeat and in fact, is often the main treatment prescribed for a heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Every organ in our body, and especially our heart, needs magnesium to function properly.
A magnesium deficiency is extremely common because our diet tends to be poor in magnesium, either due to depleted soils and the resulting lower mineral content, from poor food choices, or both. Exacerbating this further, the use of diuretics, often prescribed for patients with a history of heart attack, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and edema, result in the loss of magnesium in urine. Excessive use of the stomach acid inhibitors like Zantac can also result in a magnesium deficiency.
5 Common signs of a magnesium deficiency:
1. Heart palpitations
2. High blood pressure
3. Muscle cramps
4. Fatigue and weakness
Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that is particularly damaging to blood vessels. High levels of homocysteine lead to increased inflammation and risk of coronary heart disease and can be a marker easily added to screening blood work. L-methyl folate is the most biologically active and usable form of folic acid used to help combat elevated homocysteine.
5 Common signs of a folate deficiency:
Shortness of breath
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that 3 grams per day of fish oil, rich in both EPA and DHA omega fatty acids, protects the heart by making platelets ‘less sticky’, decreasing cellular inflammation and by lowering unhealthy triglycerides while increasing healthy, high density lipids. Omega-3 specifically also reduces the risk of developing arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat, slows down plaque formation and helps to reduce blood pressure.
5 Common signs of am omega 3 deficiency:
CoQ10 acts an antioxidant and supports energy production for every cell in the body. The most concentrated source of CoQ10 in the body is in our heart muscle, where it helps maintain the normal oxidative state of LDL cholesterol, assists circulatory health, and supports optimal functioning of the heart muscle and the health of blood vessel walls.
CoQ10 improves the heart’s ability to pump effectively and reduces high blood pressure and congestive heart failure in those who already have heart disease. Ironically, statin medications often prescribed for to reduce cholesterol deplete CoQ10 levels as well. Studies have shown that almost half of patients with hypertension have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies.
6 Common signs of a CoQ10 deficiency:
High blood pressure
Aching joints and muscles
L-Carnitine is a fat-transporting compound that is essential for normal heart function. Adequate L-Carnitine levels prevent the progression of heart muscle damage in people with known congestive heart failure, opens blood vessels and increases blood flow to the heart, muscles and other tissues, resulting in better overall oxygen use by the body.
Because the heart gets 60 percent of its energy from fat, it’s very important that the body has enough L-Carnitine to shuttle the fatty acids into the heart’s muscle cells. A number of studies have shown that L-Carnitine can improve exercise endurance in heart patients improves survival rate.
5 Common signs of an L-Carnitine deficiency:
Decreased muscle town
Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above and wondering whether you might have a deficiency, be sure to speak with your health care provider. From our heart to yours, here’s to keeping this particularly important muscle as strong and healthy as it can be.