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3 Simple Vitamins To Protect Your Heart

If you’ve read some of the past issues of Balance Point, you know that cholesterol is not the primary problem when it comes to heart health.

In fact the most recent research points to inflammation as a much more likely culprit. And it’s not only a factor in heart disease, but also in diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. This makes reducing inflammation and the causes of inflammation crucial for your longevity and quality of life.

This is actually a very rich field to explore, however today I want to focus on one of the most clear connections between inflammation and cardiovascular disease. That connection is called homocysteine.

What the Heck is Homocysteine?

Homocysteine is created when your body converts the amino acid methionine into cysteine. In other words, for a very brief time when your body is making this conversion, you have more homocysteine in your blood.

I know this may sound a little technical, but here’s the significance of this fact for your health: your likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack is directly related to the levels of homocysteine in your blood.

Your body creates homocysteine as part of the natural metabolism of proteins. The problems show up when this transformation is not completed and you get elevated homocysteine in your blood.

The exact reason for this is still being researched, however the information we have so far shows that one of the direct problems excessive homocysteine creates is inflammatory damage to your blood vessels. This damage eventually leads to heart and circulatory disease.

Why This Is Good News…

This is actually great news. The reason is that you can insure healthy levels of homocysteine and therefore reduce inflammatory damage to your blood vessels with 3 simple nutrients. These nutrients are:

  1. Folic Acid
  2. Vitamin B-6
  3. Vitamin B-12

By getting enough of these vitamins you will greatly reduce or eliminate excess homocysteine and the circulatory damage it causes.

Note that taking these nutrients won’t fix damage that may have already occurred. Even so, preventing future damage is a big plus for your quality of life.

How Much Do You Need?

You don’t need huge amounts of these vitamins to get the benefit. If you take a supplement, just make sure it has the following amounts or more:

  1. Folic Acid – 1 mg
  2. Vitamin B-6 – 50 mg
  3. Vitamin B-12 – 500 mcg (.5 mg)

Of course, since these B-vitamins are all water soluble, if you get more than this it’s fine. Your body will just pass through any excess.

I firmly believe that you need nutritional supplements these days to make sure you get everything you need. Modern foods just don’t have the level of nutrition they did 100 years ago. That’s why I encourage my patients to take a whole-food, all-natural multiple vitamin at the very least.

If you take supplements already, check to make sure you are getting at least the above amounts of these three vitamins. If you aren’t taking supplements, consider taking at least a multiple from natural sources. Use the above guidelines to help you choose the best one for you.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • DaveJune 30, 2010, 10:18 am

    Considering how long research on homocysteine has been available (I first heard about this in the 80’s), it’s very disappointing that the “Western” medical community has failed to follow up on this one. But then again, the pharmaceutical industry makes a lot more money pushing expensive patented medications than simple vitamins, and most “Western” physicians simply don’t have the time to perform their own research, which is why they tend to over-rely on the propaganda that they get in the mail.

    I sometimes suspect that big pharma almost wants people to get sick, so they can sell more medicine! They even want to push medications as the “solution” for people’s health in cases that are borderline at worst — witness the drives to make Metformin, Lipitor, and Prozac into medications that nearly everyone should have to take, never mind that Lipitor and Prozac are outright deadly when used together!

    While I have been taking the 3 vitamins that you mentioned in this article and certain others on a regular basis for some time now, I have been paying increasing attention to my diet as a key factor, especially since I was hospitalized for pancreatitis due to gallstones about a year ago, and became a type I diabetic as a result. Although I can’t yet afford the Metabolic Typing program that you offer, I have been making some common-sense decisions about my diet, especially:

    1) No refined carbs or artificial sweeteners;
    2) No “factory” foods, i.e., foods that are over-processed or that have any kind of questionable additives (which is most of them!)
    (Many diabetics with whom I have talked have eliminated these things from their own diets as well, regardless of whether they have type I or type II.)

    I’m currently eating lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes; I get the latter two items in bulk to save money. I also enjoy the following in moderation: milk, natural cheese, natural yogurt, tofu, organic peanut butter, organic cage-free eggs, flourless low-glycemic bread made from sprouted organic grains, and wild (not farmed!) salmon. I like green salads, but I make my own dressings from extra-virgin olive oil plus a few simple ingredients such as lemon juice, pepper, and a few herbs — commercial condiments, along with most breads and all junk foods, are among the worst of the “factory” foods. I also get moderate exercise by walking the dog 4-5 miles (75-90 minutes) three times a week; of course, I do this very early in the morning during this hot summer weather.

    My regular doctor has indicated that I’m making good enough progress that I don’t need expensive tests or a lot of medications on every visit, even if he remains a bit skeptical about the benefits of my dietary changes. It seems that my pancreatic episode has been something of a blessing in disguise; it has really forced me to pay a lot more attention to my diet. From time to time, my pancreas even comes back to life, meaning that I can sometimes go without insulin for several days (I always check my blood sugar to know for sure), and my dietary changes have already considerably reduced my need for insulin at other times.

    Your articles strike me as very good, with lots of timely information that everyone can use. There is a lot of mis-information out there about the value of certain nutrients or supplements, just as there is a lot of deliberate mis-information about pharmaceuticals (some companies do make both!) It’s nice to see someone who can present helpful information, especially on how certain very-reasonable lifestyle changes can create dramatic results. I’m usually pretty skeptical about “health” advice in general, but I am definitely a believer in the kind of advice that you share after seeing some of those results for myself!

  • Dr. BruceJune 30, 2010, 10:33 am

    Hi Dave,

    I suspect you’re right about conventional Western medicine’s blinders regarding cutting edge research. Many MDs rely on drug reps for their ‘education’ or are subsidized on their continuing education trips when they go to pro-drug conferences. It’s a triumph of greed over true healing.

    I’ve had the same thought about intentionally keeping people sick, but it would be very hard to prove. Most probably those who do the actual research truly believe they are helping people. But even in the best light, there’s no denying that the end result – expensive, proprietary drugs with long lists of sometimes deadly side effects – doesn’t promote health or longevity. In fact it more often than not does the opposite.

    Your decision to avoid processed and artificial foods is very sound and will go a long way towards improving your health. It’s almost funny (almost!) that your doctor is skeptical of dietary changes to manage diabetes.

    I appreciate your feedback about the articles on the site!

    Be well,

    Dr. Bruce

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