Between Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month, there’s no denying that hearts and February go hand-in-hand. This month, as we celebrate the things that make our hearts melt, let’s also think about preventing heart disease with the 4 Pillars of Heart Health: Minerals, CoQ10, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and L-Carnitine.
Not only is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) one of the most widespread and costly problems in the U.S., it is among the most preventable. Like any other part of the body, the heart requires preventive care to ensure it will operate at its best. These days I see more preventive care for cars than for the heart. Prevention is not early detection. It is identifying those at risk and instituting therapy to actually prevent the disease. And while early detection and treatment is needed and saves lives, we need also to focus on preventing CVD altogether.
Current statistics on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD):
- 33.5% (149 million) of US adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure
- 8% (18.3 million) of the US adult population has been diagnosed with diabetes
- 67% (34% of which are obese [149.3 million]) of US adults are either obese or overweight
These 2012 statistics tell us that we are not gaining much ground in the battle against heart disease.
So, what is the heart? The heart is complex organ, but essentially it is a big hunk of muscle. The heart is responsible for pumping the blood to the lungs to be oxygenated and then deliver that oxygenated blood throughout the body. To pump that oxygenated blood, the heart needs lots, and lots of energy (ATP). The heart uses the “power house” of the cell, called mitochondria, to generate all this needed energy.
How much energy does the heart make? The heart makes enough energy, everyday, to drive a truck 20 miles. That mileage, over an average lifespan, will get you to the moon and back. The ability of mitochondria within the heart (which is muscle) to generate energy is critical to life. In fact, the result of compromised mitochondria is aging and death. The lack of ability to produce energy, actually triggers apoptosis (cell death). Enough cell death equals organ death, which results in the body’s death. Obviously, this is not what we want. Mitochondria are crucial to the heart’s ability to make energy and avoid all the, well…unintended consequences.
At Seasons Wellness Clinic, we focus on the 4 Pillars of Heart Health which support mitochondrial function.
- Magnesium is a nutrient. Magnesium is needed for more enzyme reactions than any other nutrient, which makes it extremely important.
- B Vitamins give us energy. Why? One reason is B vitamins are co-factors in energy production. Many of the B vitamins are co-factors in the Kreb’s cycle, another very important pathway for energy production.
2. CoQ10 is critical in energy production. CoQ10 is a carrier protein between complex I and complex II of the electron transport chain (ETC). The ETC is where your body makes most of the ATP (energy). CoQ10 is an antioxidant as well.
3. Alpha Lipoic Acid is very important in the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme complex. This enzyme complex is very important in the first steps of energy production from glucose, a process called glycolysis. Alpha Lipoic Acid, like CoQ10, is an antioxidant.
4. L-Carnitine is involved in the “fat shuttle.” Carnitine is involved in how the cell shuttles fat into the mitochondria for energy production. You can see how a compromised “fat shuttle” can effect energy production and fat production. L-carnitine, too, is an antioxidant.
Not only do we want to evaluate these critical components (and yes, we can test for these essential molecules), but we want to prevent any compromise to their function. A major cause of component malfunction in the body’s processes is mineral depletion, and the #1 cause of mineral depletion is prescription drugs.
To demonstrate my point, let’s use Metformin and Statin drugs as examples. First, Metformin, a good prescription drug for Diabetes, is known to deplete the body of Magnesium, B12, folic acid, CoQ10. And second, Statin drugs, for cholesterol, are known as disruptors of CoQ10. Ever wonder why those on statin therapies complain of muscle pains/cramps? If you poisoned your muscle’s ability to make energy, you would do the same. I am not opposed to these medications, it is just very important that we understand that a patient with Diabetes and high cholesterol (closely linked) must avoid therapies that actually worsen the problems.
To help the heart live long and strong, remember the 4 Pillars of Heart Health. There are four major vessels of the heart as well as four major obstacles to heart health. For more information about heart health, specialized testing, and medical-grade supplements, contact a Patient Relations Specialist at Seasons Wellness at (865) 675-9355