The heart is the body’s hardest working muscle, and it deserves the best treatment you can give it. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, effective stress management, sufficient, quality sleep and regular checkups to ensure your blood pressure and heartbeat are healthy all play a role in keeping your heart pumping as it should.
Here are four out of the many nutrients you need to make a part of your healthy diet to support your heart’s best health.
1. Omega Balance—
The Western diet is much too high in omega 6, which puts the body out of balance, leading to inflammation in the body, “stiffer” cells, and ultimately, a less-than-healthy heart. Omega 3 can counterbalance the effects of too much omega 6. Most experts agree that a healthy ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 can range from 1:1 to 5:1. Unfortunately, most of us have ratios that range from 20:1 to as high as 50:1.1
A healthy omega balance can do so much for the body, and most of its benefits have a direct link to your heart’s health. An omega balance helps the body create healthy inflammation responses, maintain healthier cholesterol levels, increase the cells’ abilities to communicate with each other and absorb nutrients, and much more.
Every cell in the body benefits from healthy levels of CoQ10, which is a vital nutrient for the mitochondria of the cell, offering energy support. Besides its importance for energy, CoQ10 is also a great antioxidant, which means it helps the body fight off the free radical cells that can cause damage. CoQ10 is especially important to our muscles. Depleted CoQ10 levels lead to overall weakness and pain, even making it difficult to walk. And, the muscles of the heart have the most CoQ10 of any muscle in our bodies!2
Besides the CoQ10 we get from foods (which is relatively low), our body also produces its own CoQ10. Unfortunately, statins, which people take to help them lower cholesterol, stop the body from making CoQ10. That’s why one of the side effects of statin use is muscle weakness and pain. In addition, most OTC and prescription drugs also deplete the amount of CoQ10 in your body.
The bottom line? If you are taking an OTC or prescription drug, you want to discuss with your healthcare provider your possible need to supplement with CoQ10 to make up for what the drug is depleting from you.
Magnesium is a mineral that most of us take for granted, yet it is involved in hundreds of processes in your body. Did you know that a magnesium deficiency can make any other condition you might have worse?
You need proper amounts of magnesium to have a normal heartbeat. In fact, magnesium is the main treatment for irregular heartbeat.2 Several studies have also shown that proper magnesium levels in the body support healthy blood pressure levels as well.
It is so easy to deplete the body of magnesium that many experts agree that our country is seriously low in this important, essential mineral. A high fat, high sugar diet, drinking colas, being too stressed—all these put the body in an acidic state that forces the body to leech magnesium (and calcium) from the body to come back to a more alkaline state. In addition, many OTC and prescription drugs deplete the body of this important mineral.
4. B Vitamins—
Another set of vitamins that are particularly important to the heart but that can be difficult to maintain in healthy levels are our B vitamins. Healthy homocysteine levels have been shown to be important for heart health, among many other aspects of health in the body. Adequate B vitamin levels are vital to healthy homocysteine levels.
Again, most OTC and prescription drugs, including birth control pills, deplete the body of B vitamins. Since B vitamins are water soluble, they tend to not stick around in the body, making a constant supply of these nutrients necessary to optimum health.
Lifestyle and diet choices can also deplete vitamin B levels. When we are under stress, we tend to use much more of these vitamins. Drinking coffee is also known to increase homocysteine levels, requiring enough B vitamins to counteract that effect.3
A note on folate—Many people are genetically pre-disposed to have difficulty assimilating folate, which means they may require more folic acid to gain the same effects as a person taking a smaller amount. Methylfolate, a form of folic acid, takes a step out of the assimilation process, making it a preferred kind of folic acid for people who have difficulty absorbing folate. Besides playing a role in homocysteine levels, proper folic acid is essential to healthy neurotransmitter levels, which play a role in mood and so much more. Discuss your folic acid intake with your healthcare provider to ensure you are getting the right amounts for you.
A Word About Heart Medications—If you take a medication for cholesterol or high blood pressure, be aware that there are nutrients you want to make sure you get plenty of to make up for the nutrients these medications deplete. When we determine with our doctors that we need a medication, even if the medication can deplete us of nutrients, our best course of action is to make sure we are accommodating any potential side effects with our diet and lifestyle choices since we need to take the medication regardless.
Some of the nutrients the different kinds of cholesterol and blood pressure medications can deplete in the body include4:
- B vitamins
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
Make your heart’s health a top priority every day with healthy lifestyle and nutrient choices. At Betsy’s Health Foods, we are always taking your health and your budget to heart®, by striving to provide you with solutions for your supplemental needs.
Betsy’s Note: This article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. Make sure a supplement is not contraindicated with your medications or medical condition. For example, CoQ10, magnesium, omegas and B vitamins thin blood. Consult your healthcare provider.
- Cohen, Suzy, RPh, Drug Muggers: Which Medications are Robbing Your Body of Essential Nutrients—and Natural Ways to Restore Them. Rodale, Inc. 92-94.