Right after finishing my undergraduate at Iowa State University, I was fortunate enough to have an internship with one of the leading cardiothoracic surgeons in the world. It was pretty cool. This surgeon and the guys in his group were amazing. I’d stroll in sometime around 8AM and he would be taking a nap in his office after saving someone’s life in an eight hour surgery overnight. He’d get up shortly after that and go perform several other crazy amazing surgeries, standing ALL day.
Anyway, my primary task was to compile as much research and data covering the topic of nutrition related indicators for cardiac cachexia. Then I was to create basic protocols for identifying these patients at risk.
Basically, I was trying to help this doctor figure out if researchers had identified legitimate red flag warnings that would help him prevent his heart patients from developing a condition that leads to life threatening weight loss due to extreme heart disease. And then do something about it.
The theme I learned from the experience is inflammation, inflammation, inflammation. Secondly, I learned that someone can appear generally healthy but be deficient in crucial micronutrients.
Micronutrients are defined as essential nutrients that are needed for survival, but only in small amounts. You probably know vitamins (like vitamin D) and minerals (like calcium) are micronutrients, but I also believe nutrients like phytochemicals, antioxidants and fatty acids can contribute to micronutrient deficiency symptoms (even though they are not classified as micronutrients).
Here are some of the micronutrients and essential nutrients that are critical for cardiovascular function and health.
NOTE: This list is not all inclusive for nutrients important for inflammation in heart health. Of course there are other nutrients (like omega 3 fatty acids such as alpha linoleic fatty acid) that play an important role in inflammation and heart health. These are nutrients that focus on the inflammatory side of heart disease.
NOTE #2: Please know that I am not recommending you go out and buy supplements or nutraceuticals for all these nutrients either. If you are worried that your body might not have enough stores or available amounts of these nutrients (for whatever reason: diet, medications, stress, etc), please contact us. Micronutrient testing is a service we are looking into if there is a demand for it.
Micronutrients & Other Nutrients Important for Inflammation in Heart Health:
Vitamins C and E function as antioxidants that help blood vessels stay flexible so they can dilate and contract appropriately.
Lipoic Acid is a fatty acid that lowers blood pressure by inhibiting your body’s natural inflammatory responses in blood vessels which can go overboard.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to high blood pressure because it contributes to endothelial dysfunction, a condition where the lining of blood vessels cannot relax properly and then secrete substances that promote inflammation of the blood vessel lining.
Vitamin B6, B12, folate, serine and choline are all necessary to properly metabolize homocysteine (high levels are linked to CVD risk) and reduce the risk of arterial scarring.
Carnitine is an amino acid that facilitates the transport of fatty acids into heart cell mitochondria, helping the heart meet its strong demand for chemical energy. It also helps muscles, including the heart, recover from damage, such as from a heart attack.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is another key component in energy metabolism by helping the heart increase its pumping strength.
Coenzyme Q10 is also required by heart tissue in large amounts to properly function. Statin drugs deplete the body of CoQ10, so deficiencies of CoQ10 in statin-users are particularly common. The side effect of statin therapy is frequently observed as muscle pain.
Cysteine, glutathione, B2, selenium, Vitamin E and Vitamin C work together to reduce oxidative stress throughout the entire cardiovascular system. It is essential that balance in the antioxidant system is critical and that use of a single antioxidant may be detrimental.
Check out this blog that provides good sources (dietary and otherwise) for these important nutrients.