Can vitamin deficiency cause heart problems? (SQ-135)
Your body needs vitamins and minerals to perform all its vital functions that keep you alive and healthy. You need these nutrients to get energy, boost immunity and fight infections, absorb nutrients, and keep structures like bones, muscles, eyes, skin, and blood vessels healthy.
Basically, you need vitamins, minerals and other nutrients for proper growth, development, damage repair and healing.
Being deficient in vitamins compromises your health and may also increase your risk of various health disorders. For example, vitamin C deficiency lowers your immunity and leads to anaemia. Vitamin D deficiency leads to weak bones and muscles. Severely low levels of B12 impacts the health of your brain and nervous system and leads to anaemia, chronic fatigue, poor memory, and brain fog.
Can vitamin deficiency cause heart problems? Studies show that vitamins such as D, B12, and C are required for healthy heart functions. In this article, we will discuss the role of vitamins in heart health, explore the best vitamin for heart health and what vitamin helps prevent heart disease.
Vitamin D and heart health
Vitamin D keeps your bones and muscles healthy. But studies show that there is so much more to the sunshine vitamin than just maintaining bone health.
Vitamin D regulates your immune function, which means it not only boosts natural immunity that helps you fight infections but also prevents unwanted immune responses that may trigger inflammation and auto immune disorders. It is also required for healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin D deficiency can increase your chances of developing respiratory infections, allergies and asthma. Low levels are also associated with auto immune conditions such as thyroid. But can you get heart problems from low vitamin D levels? Is there any relation between vitamin D and heart health?
While science is not conclusive on this, some studies consider vitamin D deficiency as an important risk factor in heart problems, including heart attack, congestive heart failure and strokes. It is also associated with high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions that have a direct effect on your heart health.
There are several studies that support the role of healthy vitamin D levels in preventing cardiovascular disease, and vitamin D supports heart health in a number of ways.     
For example, vitamin D:
- Reduces inflammation in arteries
- Regulates blood pressure
- Maintains blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of diabetes
- Improves endothelial functions
Preliminary research also indicate that Vitamin D3 could help repair endothelial damage caused by high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetes, while also lowering the risk of heart attack. Endothelium is a thin layer of cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. It plays many roles including protecting the vessels from oxidative damage and regulating blood pressure.
The study found that vitamin D3 stimulates the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an important role in regulating blood circulation and blood clot formation in blood vessels. D3 also reduces oxidative damage in blood vessels. 
Why do you need vitamin D3 supplements?
You can make healthy amounts of vitamin D from sun exposure, however not getting enough sun exposure, use of sunscreen, prolonged use of statins and liver disorders can get in the way of making vitamin D naturally. Moreover, people living in high altitudes don’t make enough vitamin D in winter months, as the sunlight is not strong enough.
Taking vitamin D3 supplements is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to address deficiency and achieve robust heart health, while preventing achy joints, infections and allergies.
Vitamin C and heart health
Vitamin C is best known for its role in bolstering immunity. It improves the production and activity of various white blood cells.
Does vitamin C also play an important role in keeping your heart strong and healthy?
Vitamin C appears to work through several mechanisms to reduce your risk of heart disease. First, it is an antioxidant. So, it prevents oxidative damage to various cellular structures including the arteries and reduces inflammation.
In addition, its role in collagen synthesis and repair is what makes it indispensable to your overall health. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, providing structure and strength to the connective tissues present in your skin, teeth, bones, ligaments, cartilage and arteries. This is the reason why vitamin C plays a crucial role in tissue repair and wound healing.
When you have chronic vitamin C deficiency, your body is not able to produce enough healthy collagen. This weakens the connective tissues including in the arteries. In addition, vitamin C reduces the risk of atherosclerosis (plaque formation in the arteries) and improves the production of nitric oxide in the endothelium. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure.
Studies show vitamin C:
- Lowers inflammation 
- Reduces blood pressure in patients with hypertension 
Why do you need to take vitamin C supplements, when many fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin C? In real time, most people struggle to eat sufficient amounts of fruits and other whole, uncooked foods.
And if you are an excessive smoker or suffer from health disorders that interfere with absorption of nutrients, you tend to have low levels of vitamin C. Stress, excessive smoking, drinking, infections, surgery and chronic diseases deplete your vitamin C pool.
In addition, experts believe you need more vitamin C for heart health than what you might typically need to prevent scurvy, a vitamin c deficiency disease that causes symptoms such as bleeding gums, fatigue, and joint and muscle pain.
Taking a high-quality vitamin C supplement ensures a well-functioning immune system, as well as healthy bones, healthy skin and a strong cardiovascular system.
Vitamin B12 and heart health
You need vitamin B12 for a vigorous nervous system, to make heathy and mature red blood cells and to get energy from food. While severe deficiency may take some time to kick in, a cluster of symptoms such as constant fatigue, tingling sensation in the feet and hands, constipation, light-headedness, trouble walking, pale skin, smooth red tongue and sore mouth are a good indicator that you have vitamin B12 deficiency.
Can vitamin B12 deficiency cause heart problems?
A 2020 study found that vitamin B12 deficiency can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, suggesting that a deficiency may up your risk of heart disease. 
Vitamin B12 helps in the elimination of homocysteine (Hc), an amino acid produced in the body when you eat certain foods such as meat, eggs, fish and dairy. These foods contain a protein called methionine, and homocysteine is produced as a by-product when you digest this protein.
Some amount of homocysteine is normal but high levels are known to cause damage to your blood vessels. Hc damages the endothelium, a delicate layer of cells that line the inside of your blood vessels. Vitamin B12 and folate converts Hc back into methionine, which you need to make hormones, proteins, and myelin sheath.
Studies show that high levels of homocysteine, while not causing any tell-tale symptoms, may be present in conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, stroke and heart disease.
Studies show that elevated Hc levels may increase the risk of coronary heart disease,   and stiffening of arteries in the elderly. 
A 2017 study found that shortage of folic acid and B12, together with high levels of homocysteine are related with coronary artery diseases, such as heart attack and angina. 
In fact, increased Hc levels could also serve as an indicator of vitiligo, a skin condition where skin cells that make melanin are destroyed. This leads to loss of skin color, and appearance of white spots and patches on the skin. Vitamin B12 supplements may help in this skin condition.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also known to cause heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Heart palpitations feel like rapid fluttering or pounding in your heart. Or it may seem like your heart has skipped a beat. It is one of the most common symptoms of B12 deficiency but stress, low levels of magnesium and some medicines can also cause this abnormal rhythm in your heart.
B12 is only found in animal-based foods. So, if your diet doesn’t include a lot of meat, eggs and dairy, chances are you are at a risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. In addition, your body needs certain dynamics to be in place to absorbs
B12, which are negatively affected in certain conditions and lifestyle choices. For example, people who use laxatives and antacids, those with Crohn's disease, celiac disease, leaky gut, diabetes, and even serious drinking problems are at a high risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
This article will not be complete if we don’t mention magnesium and CoQ10 for the very important roles they play in keeping your heart healthy and reducing your risk of heart disease.
CoQ10 and heart health
Coenzyme Q10 is a substance found in every cell of your body. It works as an anti-oxidant and protects endothelium and arteries from oxidative damage and inflammation. CoQ10 also plays an essential role in the energy synthesis, and these two properties make CoQ10 extremely important for heart health.
Your heart is one of the most energy-demanding organs in the body. And it has higher levels of CoQ10 than other tissues. Low levels mean your heart doesn’t have sufficient energy to function and this can lead to heart failure. Studies show that CoQ10 is one of the best supplements you can take for heart failure. 
While your body can make CoQ10 on its own, its production reduces with age. Vitamins and mineral deficiencies also affect the production of CoQ10. And if you are dealing with chronic stress and other health issues, your body not only uses its natural pool of CoQ10 but also requires additional anti-oxidant support from outside. Beta-blockers, antibiotics and anti-depressants also deplete CoQ10 from the body, causing a shortage.
If you are taking statins, or other drugs that lower cholesterol, it is important to take alongside these a high quality CoQ10 supplement. Statins not only reduce cholesterol but also impair the production of other important molecules, including CoQ10, vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3. All these molecules are important for your heart health. Vitamin K2, mostly found in dairy and fermented foods like natto, signals calcium to move into bones and stay away from soft tissues such as arteries. Low K2 levels are linked to poor heart and bone health.
Reduced levels of CoQ10 may cause muscle fatigue and muscle pain, symptoms that are commonly observed in people who have been taking statins for a long time. Taking CoQ10 supplements will help in reducing the negative effects of statins.
Overall, CoQ10 supports heart health as it:
- Works as a powerful antioxidant and protects arteries from oxidative damage
- Improves energy production in the heart muscle and energizes the tired muscle
- Improves symptoms in people with congestive heart failure and reduces the risk of sudden hospitalization or even urgent transplantation
- Helps in type 2 diabetes  
- Improves endothelial functions
- Helps recycle other antioxidants back in the system, such as vitamin C and vitamin E
Magnesium and heart health
Magnesium is popularly known as a mineral that relaxes tensed muscles and provides relief in painful muscle spasms. But this relaxing mineral is important for your heart health too. How does it do that?
- Reduces inflammation
- Regulates stress hormones and lowers stress levels
- Reduces blood pressure in people with low magnesium levels
- Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes
A 2018 review suggested that subclinical magnesium deficiency is one of the top risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, and may lead to high blood pressure, arrhythmias, calcification in the arteries, atherosclerosis, and heart failure. It is also likely to increase the risk for thrombosis. 
Magnesium regulates the movement of calcium in and out of the cells. When you are low in magnesium, unrestricted entry of calcium in the cells causes continuous muscle contractions, leading to twitches, painful spasms, cramps and even migraine.
Also, abnormal contraction in your heart muscle can cause arrhythmia and angina. Too much calcium in your cells and tissues can also cause kidney stones, constipation and atherosclerosis.
It is also important to note that without healthy amounts of magnesium your body cannot absorb and use vitamin D. Magnesium activates enzymes that process vitamin D in the body, leading to healthy absorption.
Magnesium is found in seeds, nuts, lentils, whole grains, egg yolk and green leafy vegetables. Magnesium in the food comes from the soil, which is sadly depleted in minerals. This makes magnesium deficiency a serious problem world-wide. In addition, an unhealthy diet and gastrointestinal problems that interfere with the absorption of nutrients also lead to magnesium deficiency.
Considering the role of magnesium in heart and overall health, especially in reducing stress and anxiety, taking a magnesium supplement would be a great way to achieve a healthy body and relaxed mind.
But what kind of supplements are most effective?
Market is loaded with all kinds of oral supplements in the form of powders, pills and gel capsules. But the fact is that your body is not very efficient in absorbing nutrients from traditional oral supplements.
Most of the content present in your typical oral supplement is destroyed during digestion, leaving very less amount for absorption and use. In addition, taking these supplements in large dosages causes side effects such as bloating and abdominal cramps.
Liposomal supplements for better absorption
In this form of supplement, nutrients are safely placed in the tiny, protective bubbles called liposomes. These bubbles protect enclosed nutrients and antioxidants from getting destroyed in the gut. The liposomal technique of delivering nutrients also protects the vitamins from oxidative damage.
Taking liposomal supplements ensures that the intended nutrients reach your cells directly, with increased absorption and bioavailability.
Making positive lifestyle changes, such as eating healthy, wholesome diet and doing regular exercise, is the first step towards achieving a healthy heart. Taking mineral and vitamin supplements such as liposomal vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin B12, magnesium and CoQ10 also supports your cardiovascular health in scenarios where eating healthy and regularly and being physically active is not possible.
In addition, these supplements can offer great value for people who smoke a lot, suffer from long-term infections and chronic diseases, or are stressed need an extra source of nutrients and antioxidants to support their overall health.
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