Vitamins, Minerals and the Cardiovascular System

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Vitamins, Minerals and the Cardiovascular System

Vitamin C; Vitamin E
Vitamin C and vitamin E protect lipids from oxidation in the blood and stimulate the immune system to remove from the circulation any cholesterol-containing particles that have become oxidized. These actions both protect the health of the cardiovascular system and promote the health of blood vessels in the body.

Maintaining the proper degree of sensitivity to stimuli that allows blood vessels to swell or constrict according to the body’s needs is an unappreciated function of the calcium that is circulating in your bloodstream. If there is not enough calcium available, blood vessels become stiff and tend to lose their ability to relax – a situation that causes the blood pressure to remain elevated even when the body does not need the extra pressure to distribute blood where it’s needed. In recognition of the importance of calcium supply to a healthy cardiovascular system, on October 12, 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that “Some scientific evidence suggests that calcium supplements may reduce the risk of hypertension.” Furthermore, as a key contributor to the modulatory function of blood vessel relaxation, calcium supplementation may support the body’s ability to maintain blood pressure in individuals whose pressures are already in the normal range.

The heart muscle is exquisitely sensitive to all aspects of its environment, including the amount of magnesium available to it. Adequate magnesium can translate into increased heart health, with longevity benefits. As shown in research published recently in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, magnesium reduces the toxicity of the oxidative substances that are produced during normal cardiac contractions.13 Magnesium also acts to stabilize the electrical excitability of the heart muscle, promotes normal cardiac rhythms and increases the efficiency of energy use by the myocardium. Research also suggests that daily magnesium intakes of 300 mg also relax skeletal muscles and foster restful sleep in individuals prone to leg cramps at night.

In addition to actions within the heart itself, magnesium also helps maintain the patency of blood vessels, with positive effects on the maintenance of blood pressure levels that are already normal. And because magnesium facilitates the regulation of cholesterol synthesis and metabolism, adequate magnesium levels may promote serum LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol concentrations that are already in the normal range, as shown most recently in several published research studies.14,15

The beneficial longevity-enhancing effects of magnesium on the heart and cardiovascular system are well documented. This has been demonstrated clearly in the results of a 10-year study of over 14,000 adult men published recently in Environmental Health Perspectives.16 The investigators found that as daily magnesium intake increased, the health of the heart also increased, confirming a large body of existing evidence. In fact, several studies suggest that a daily intake of at least 400 mg of magnesium powerfully supports healthy cardiovascular function with age.

The evidence is in – and provides ample justification (and motivation) for adding magnesium to the list of nutrients that promote heart health and longevity.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Vitamins, Minerals and the Skeleton

13. Manju L, Nair RR. Magnesium deficiency augments myocardial response to reactive oxygen species. Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2006;84:617-624.
14. Song Y, Ridker PM, Manson JE, Cook NR, Buring JE, Liu S. Magnesium intake, C-reactive protein, and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in middle-aged and older U.S. women. Diabetes Care 2005;28:1438-1444.
15. He K, Liu K, Daviglus ML, Morris SJ, Loria CM, Van Horn L, Jacobs DR Jr, Savage PJ. Magnesium intake and incidence of metabolic syndrome among young adults. Circulation 2006;113:1675-1682. 16. Kousa A, Havulinna AS, Moltchanova E, Taskinen O, Nikkarinen M, Eriksson J, Karvonen M. Calcium:magnesium ratio in local groundwater and incidence of acute myocardial infarction among males in rural Finland. Environ Health Perspect 2006;114:730-734.

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