Cardiovascular disease has remained the leading cause of death throughout the world, killing nearly 17 million people worldwide during 2011. Of these, 7 million died specifically of ischemic heart disease. Yet, barely more than a hundred years ago, people rarely died of heart disease. What gives? Firstly, all the modern conveniences have drastically decreased the amount of exercise required by normal daily activities. Combined with drastic changes in diet, consumption of processed foods, and a lot of erroneous information that has been circulated about what we should or should not eat and what supplements are important, all of which seems to be driven by making money for some company or other, it is not so surprising we have so many health issues.
Henry C. Lukaski, Assistant Director of ARS Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, North Dakota, and nutritionist Forrest H Nielson The study published in the May 2002 Journal of Nutrition on the effects of depleted body magnesium levels on energy metabolism. They found that low magnesium is associated with a need for increased oxygen during exercise. Having low magnesium levels in your muscles requires more energy and causes you to tire more quickly. The study further revealed that more energy and more oxygen is needed to perform low-level activities when magnesium status is less than adequate. The body combines half its magnesium stores with calcium and phosphorus inside bones, half inside the cells of tissues and organs, and a minuscule amount of about 1 % is kept circulating in the bloodstream at a constant level. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA of magnesium for women over age 31 is 320 mg per day and for men over 31, 420 mg per day. It is estimated that about 2/3 of the US population falls short of the RDA for magnesium. 20% have magnesium levels falling significantly below the RDA. Another study published in the March 2002 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Dr. Leslie M Klevay, head of the Trace Elements and Cardiovascular Health Laboratory at the Grand Forks Center, and biochemist David B Milne, found a strong correlation between low magnesium levels and irregular heartbeats.
This information is critical for anyone who may be suffering from heart disease and/or trying to recover from a heart attack. The heart is an amazing and efficiently designed pump, about the size of your clenched fist. It is this pump that keeps us going and all too often we take it for granted and don’t really take time to understand how it works even though our lives depend upon it. This little pump is responsible for circulating blood throughout your entire body, or about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the average adult male (about 154 lbs) in order to meet the oxygen demands of the body and keep everything functioning properly. This heart has about 4.7 litres of blood volume and the normal average heart pumps all of this through your entire system (all 100,000 miles or more) at a rate of over 2 times per minute. For every pound of fat you gain, your heart has to pump the blood another seven miles. Needless to say, that is an incredible workload we are expecting and depending on our hearts to accomplish. When the arteries become clogged due to dietary habits and/or hereditary factors, the heart is forced to work even harder to pump the blood through your system and supply oxygen to your organs. Further, even low to moderate activity significantly increases the need for oxygen. If the heart is limited due to blockage and/or damage from heart attack, then it is even more important to ensure your magnesium levels are adequate, as that could make a very big difference in whether you are able to carry out even minor daily activities as well as helping to protect you from future heart attacks.
A recent meta-analysis conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health combining data from more than 300,000 people found that circulating Magnesium per 0.2mmol/L increment was associated with a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and supplementation of 200 mg/day of dietary magnesium lowered ischemic heart disease by 22%.
According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is necessary for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Besides regulating heart rhythm and healthy blood pressure, magnesium is key for electrolyte balance, protein synthesis, maintaining bones and teeth, relieving muscle cramps and reducing general fatigue and low energy levels. Magnesium is also key to shuttling potassium and sodium, two important electrolytes, in and out of cells.
Further, there is an important link between magnesium deficiency and insulin resistance, which in turn is also linked to heart disease. The role of insulin is not just in regulating sugar, but actually to save energy by storing excess nutritional resources against future time of need, helping to ensure our survival. Insulin is supposed to store magnesium in our cells, but if we are insulin resistant, or if not enough insulin is produced, that doesn’t happen. Too much insulin in the bloodstream causes us to burn sugar instead of fat. Both sugar and carbohydrates are readily stored as fat. Magnesium is then excreted through the urine. When magnesium is lost from the cells, blood vessels constrict, we don’t get enough oxygen and energy levels drop. Adequate magnesium levels help improve both insulin sensitivity and help the pancreas to produce enough insulin. According to Dr. Mark Sircus, a leading author and pioneer of Natural Allopathic Medicine, “Magnesium is an important co-factor for enzymes involved in carbohydrate metabolism so anything threatening magnesium levels threatens overall metabolism. Large epidemiologic studies in adults indicate that lower dietary magnesium and lower serum magnesium are associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes.”
Dr. Sircus notes that insulin resistance is the chief factor characterizing pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, full-blown diabetes, and heart disease, and that several studies show daily oral magnesium supplementation improved insulin sensitivity by 10% and reduced blood sugar as much as 37%. Further, it can significantly lower triglyceride levels. Even if your blood sugar is normal, insulin levels can still be too high. Although being overweight is generally associated with a higher risk of Type II diabetes, this is not always the case. Thin or normal weight people can develop insulin resistance and Type II diabetes as well. Many people appear to be fairly normal weight or even thin can still harbor deep visceral fat which though it is not apparent externally. This condition, known as TOFI (Thin Outside, Fat Inside), is even more dangerous to health as this type of fat secretes hormones and substances that interfere with the ability of insulin to break sugar down. People who develop TOFI may be those who are conscientiously trying to avoid sugar and processed foods, but may skip breakfast, relying on coffee and diet sodas through the day for energy, salted nuts or some other small snack for lunch without adequate quality calories, and a conservative meal such as pasta and salad for dinner. Unfortunately, skipping meals or going long periods without adequate balanced meals or reasonable intake of healthy calories can play just as much havoc with insulin sensitivity as indulging sugar – with the added disadvantage that the signs and symptoms of diabetes onset in these individuals are less easily recognized. Stress is also a major factor in contributing to visceral fat, raising levels of cortisol and other stress hormones. Cortisol increases blood sugar, resulting in inflammation, setting one up for neuropathy, vision problems, heart attack, and stroke. The neuropathy may also mask the warning signs of a heart attack, so significant damage to the heart, or even death may occur, before the individual even realizes something is wrong and tries to get help.
Leading Integrative Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra , who has more than 30 years of clinical experience, emphasizes that cholesterol is not a serious factor in heart disease, inflammation is the real culprit. Magnesium is important as it helps your arteries stay smooth and elastic, and can even come to the rescue and help reverse some of the damage of contracted blood vessels. He recommends 400 – 800 mg of magnesium a day for those who have suffered a heart attack or who have or may be at risk for heart disease as well as those with diabetes. Other nutrients important for heart health include B vitamins, CoQ10, Vitamin E, Chromium, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2, and Omega 3s.
Dr. Ron Rosedale, co-Founder of the Colorado Center for Metabolic Medicine and more than 30 years of practice has been very successful treating diabetics with cardiovascular disease using some revolutionary ideas. According to Dr. Rosedale, A high-complex-carbohydrate diet is nothing but a high-glucose diet, or a high-sugar diet. Your body is just going to store it as saturated fat, and the body makes it into saturated fat quite readily. One saltine cracker will take the blood sugar to over 100, and in many people it will cause the blood sugar to go to 150 for a variety of reasons, not just the sugar in it. To Dr Rosedale, it made no sense to treat diabetics by feeding them a lot of foods that almost immediately turn to sugar and then give them drugs and insulin to lower the sugar. He states that even excess protein will turn into sugar or substrates that act like sugar, which would be bad for diabetics. The only thing that doesn’t turn into sugar is fiber, or at. Rosedale’s recommended diet is high in healthy fats, very low in non-fiber carbohydrate, and limits protein to appropriate levels for the person’s size and activity levels, and incorporates key supplements such as magnesium and potassium. Using this diet, Dr. Rosedale has been very successful in taking his diabetic patients off insulin and re-sensitizing them so they could once more respond properly to insulin signals.
It’s clear that more and more doctors are recognizing the critical role of magnesium in helping support a healthy cardiovascular system and maintaining normal balance in other body systems.. And, there may be some connection to the fact that heart disease has risen steadily as processed foods and depleted soils have worked together to great limit the amounts of magnesium we are getting in our diet. Along with that we are eating way more sugar, not much fiber, not getting enough exercise etc. The truth is that not only is insulin resistance a problem but if you think about it, the predominant pattern is a habit of continually ignoring many if not most, of the signals our body is trying to tell us to stay healthy. We stay up late when we are tired because we think it is “important” that we finish something. This may happen frequently and sooner or later the lack of sleep catches up, and the immune system is compromised so you come down with a cold or something. What may be less obvious is other tolls this is taking on your health because your body needs regular adequate rest. Often we eat or keep on eating not because we are hungry but are enjoying the taste of the food so end up eating much more than we should. That overloads the digestive system which is also hard on the heart and other organs. Chances are we don’t drink enough water through the day because we are busy and maybe the water isn’t handy so it is easier to suppress being thirsty than making the effort to go get a drink. Or worse, try to satisfy thirst with drinks such as sodas. Diet sodas containing artificial sweeteners are just as unhealthy as those made with sugar, which is a whole other subject, but a common habit nonetheless. The list goes on. The good news is it is possible to retrain your body to listen and become more sensitive to insulin and other signals It is worth the effort to locate the best supplements and work with your doctor to tailor a plan for your needs. It is important to take magnesium in a form that is absorbable. Magnesium oxide is common, but your body is only able to absorb 4% of that. Magnesium citrate is a good form easily absorbed, and/or a transdermal spray of magnesium chloride oil which can be especially helpful if you need more magnesium without the laxative effect.
Young Living makes an excellent magnesium/calcium supplement called Megacal which is alkaline, easily absorbed, and formulated with Essential oils for added benefit. Many of their high quality therapeutic grade oils are also very helpful in providing support for the immune, circulatory, cardiovascular and nervous system. Beneficial oils which may be supportive to maintaining healthy ranges in these systems include Frankincense, (Boswellia carteri) or Sacred Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)and the Aroma Life blend which contains Helichryssum (Helichrysum italicum), Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata), Marjoram (Origanum majorana) in a base of Sesame Seed oil. This blend works synergistically to help soothe the nervous system and help support the cardiovascular, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.
Certain oils are also helpful in mainting blood sugar within normal ranges. The Thieves blend contains Clove (Syzygium aromaticum), Lemon (Citrus limon), Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata), and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis CT cineol), and is one that especially helps to support healthy blood sugar. Some individual oils include Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum verum), and Ocotea (Ocotea quixos), which is excellent for helping maintain normal blood sugar in normal ranges, calming the body’s internal response to irritation. Oils such as Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma and Juniperus scopulorum) may help maintain normal fluid levels in the body. Juniper supports circulation and kidney function which is key to excretion of toxins. It also supports a healthy urinary tract and bladder and liver function, as well as supporting a healthy nervous system. Cypress helps support healthy circulation, a healthy immune system, and may help relax muscles.
If you are taking diuretics, heart medications, insulin and/or other medications to help regulate your heart, diabetes, or blood pressure, be sure to work closely with your doctor in diligently incorporating healthy diet changes, supplements, and essential oils. Be aware also if you are taking blood thinners such as Warfarin (Coumadin) that this builds up in the system and needs to be monitored closely as the levels can get too high and interfere with clotting.
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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, and this information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.