Valentines Day is a holiday where we give our hearts to that special someone…but what about
our heart health? Is it really all about our cholesterol levels? Many factors can determine heart
disease risk, including stress, nutrient deficiencies, and other factors such as environmental
exposures or genetic susceptibility.
The human body has anywhere from 4.5 to 6 liters of blood and the heart pumps about 1,980
gallons of blood through our bodies every day. Talk about an efficient pump! Even at rest, the
heart beats about 60-80 times per minute.
So let’s dig in! What are some of the superstars for hearth health?
Low levels of Vitamin D are linked with increased risk of heart disease. Vitamin D3 triggers nitric
oxide, a molecule known to increase blood flow and prevent blood clot formation. One thing to
remember when taking Vitamin D3, which is our recommended form, is to also take Vitamin
K-2 along with it, as they work synergistically.
Fiber is an integral part of our normal bowel functioning. It lowers triglycerides, reduces CRP,
and removes toxins in our digestive tract that may damage blood vessels. Great sources of
soluble and insoluble fiber are berries, pears, apples, carrots, avocados, beets, cruciferous
vegetables, almonds, nuts, hemp, flax seeds, chia seeds, glucomannan and psyllium. Even
dark chocolate has some fiber. The recommended daily intake of fiber is 25-30 grams.
Certain B vitamins such as B6, B12, and folate can reduce homocysteine, an inflammation
marker related heart disease. The B vitamins also help nourish the adrenal glands, which helps
when the body is under a lot of stress.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) in particular has been shown in studies to raise HDL, lower LDL, increase
LDL particle size, and lower triglycerides. It also lowers inflammation and increases glutathione.
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that has a long list of benefits, including preventing
oxidative damage and protecting the immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oils, flaxseed and walnuts counteracts inflammation
and has been shown in several studies to promote heart health. Fish oil also acts as a mild
blood thinner, and also promotes brain health.
Some other vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals that have been shown to help with blood
flow and heart health are Vitamin C, magnesium, and co-enzyme Q10. Regular exercise
(including lovemaking) also strengthens the heart and makes it more resilient. Aim to get
exercise several days per week if possible, even if it’s just a walk around the block.
And finally, heart health also depends on nourishing the spirit and soul every day. Find time to
do what you love, with those you love, and you’ll reap the benefits for years to come.
Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at OptimalSelf MD