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By Tracy Shields - February is heart month, so woo your heart with easy but essential acts of love.
What are the best vitamin and mineral supplements with a proven track record for strengthening the heart? How important is exercise? How about sleep? Is it possible to manage arterial plaque? We’ve picked the top seven best things you can do right now to strengthen and love your heart. We’re continuing with number four today. Check last week’s blog if you missed the first four.
5. Manage Plaque Build-Up:Having a strong, healthy heart also means taking measures to prevent heart disease, especially since this is the leading cause of death in the United States. A certain type called coronary heart disease1, 2 happens when plaque build-up forms on the wall of the arteries. The plaque causes the arteries to narrow, which means less blood flow to the heart. Eventually, a heart attack could happen that would jeopardize a strong heart and lead to death. Having a strong heart means preventing coronary heart disease (hint: take omega-3s daily and reduce meat and protein intake).
6. Control your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar with natural supplements, if your diet is lacking: Vitamin supplements pale in comparison to real foods, but if you’re not getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral, supplementing can change your life. Get an annual cholesterol test, a blood-sugar test and maybe, more importantly, other preventive tests to measure the extent of plaque build-up in the arteries so that you can assess where your heart health is right now, and know which supplements will work best for you. It may be as simple as supplementing your diet with omega-3s and red yeast rice. Remember to always consult a doctor.
7. Magnesium Orotate:Scientists have discovered a natural compound—magnesium orotate—that may help prevent some of the harmful changes that happen to the heart with heart disease. Additionally, magnesium orotate, a magnesium salt of orotic acid, may strengthen and repair the heart that is recently damaged by a heart attack. Magnesium orotate helps restore the heart cells’ RNA and DNA building blocks. It reduces further damage to the heart and improves its energy to heal, repair, recover and be stronger and healthier again.
As reported by Cardiovascular Drugs and Therapy, “At the Hamburg symposium on magnesium orotate, a number of studies of this form of metabolic supplementation were presented that indicate orotic acid and its magnesium salt have a significant beneficial effect on the myocardium under conditions of stress ranging from myocardial infarction to severe physical exercise.”3
8. Deep Breathing, Meditation and Me-Time:Stress can weaken a strong heart, increase your heart rate and give you high blood pressure, all things that can take away the pleasure of life. Although there are many methods and techniques for stress management, one of the best is relaxation.
Watching TV, reading or even engaging in conversation, although enjoyable, isn’t relaxation—it’s stimulation! Deep breathing and the act of doing nothing, on the other hand, are hugely more productive in the relaxation department.
Deep breathing is a great way to experience the health benefits of relaxation. Find a stress-free place where you can be alone—or at least where you can be part of a group or community whose goal is also to relax. Yoga or tai-chi, chi kung classes, meditation retreats and spas have the same goal—all of these activities involve deep breathing and may lower blood pressure and regulate heart rhythm. According to one yoga center, “Stressful situations raise your heart rate and blood pressure, and release stress hormones, which all can injure the heart and the blood vessels, especially during prolonged or repeated exposures.”4
If meditation or yoga classes are not your thing, practice breathing in deeply and out deeply. The heart needs oxygen. So take breaks a couple of minutes at a time, frequently throughout the day, just to take a few deep breaths. It may be enough to help you manage stress and love your heart a little more than you already do.
1. Coronary Heart Disease http://health.allrefer.com/health/coronary-heart-disease-info.html
2. Hypertensive Heart Disease http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001216/
3. Metabolic supplementation with orotic acid and magnesium orotate, Cardiovasc Drugs Ter. 1998 Sept; 12 Suppl 2:147-52 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1007732131887
4. Yoga for your heart
By Tracy Shields - OK, I confess. I am 45 and have started to notice signs of menopause—hot flashes, weird periods, backaches, restless sleeping, and on and on. It seems that all these little problems have come out of the blue.
And while they’re all relatively small issues that I can deal with, I know that I am now at higher risk of heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, “Assorted changes in the body occur with menopause. Blood pressure starts to go up. LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, tends to increase while HDL, or “good” cholesterol, declines or remains the same. Triglycerides, certain types of fats in the blood, also increase.”1
And while that’s all part of the aging process, now’s the time to get serious about your health if you’ve been slacking. If you smoke, for example, work toward a quit plan. Not big into exercise? Just try to add a 20-minute brisk walk to your day. And don’t forget to eat well. Learn to cook or purchase healthier meals, avoid processed foods (i.e., chips, store-bought cookies, crackers, boxed cereals, prepackaged meals, easy microwavable foods, etc.), and add plenty of fruits and veggies to every meal.
Equally important is to add three key vitamin and mineral supplements to your diet2 :
• Essential fatty acids like EPA and DHA—Not only do potent omega-3s (fish oil) help with all the mood swings that occur naturally with menopause and perimenopause, but they have been shown to reduce hot flashes and the chances of heart disease.
• Vitamin D—Chances are that if you’re going through menopause, you are experiencing bone loss. This vitamin has been known to help strengthen bones and should be taken in conjunction with…
• Calcium—This is essential for women experiencing declines in estrogen. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that women over 50 get 1,200 mg of elemental calcium per day. Straight-up calcium supplements are not the best choice. Make sure your calcium supplement includes vitamin K2. For more info on this type of “smart” calcium, read here.