Keep Your Heart Healthy

Heart disease is currently the number-one killer of adults in the United States. This is unfortunate because most heart disease is caused by poor lifestyle choices. The four big lifestyle changes you can make to ensure to maximize the health of your heart are exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, taking a high quality vitamin supplement and stopping smoking.

Just as exercise is important to the health of your neuromusculoskeletal system, it is also critical to the health of your heart. When you regularly exercise, your body becomes much more efficient at using oxygen and burning calories and your blood pressure is normalized. This decreases the stress on your heart.

Another easy way to reduce the stress on your heart is to decrease the amount of body fat you carry around. It takes approximately one mile of additional blood vessels to supply one pound of additional fat. If you are twenty, thirty or fifty pounds overweight, it is easy to see how that extra body fat can place an undue burden on your heart.

Vitamins E and C and folic acid are the three most important nutritional supplements to take for your heart. Vitamin E is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant which helps to prevent the cholesterol in your blood from becoming oxidized. High cholesterol levels in the blood, per se, are not that big of a deal. Cholesterol only becomes dangerous when it interacts with an oxidizing radical. Vitamin E helps to prevent this.

Vitamin C is important to help strengthen the walls of the arteries and prevent the development of cholesterol plaques inside the coronary arteries. Did you know that the arteries that are the most likely to develop cholesterol deposits are the ones that are close to the heart? The reason is that when the heart contracts, it pushes blood out with a great degree of force. If the walls of the arteries which are closest to the heart are not as strong as they should be, they will tend to momentarily stretch out like a balloon and cause small tears to the inside arterial wall as the rush of blood from the heart passes by. These small tears serve as a place where platelets and cholesterol form deposits. High levels of vitamin C reduce the number of tears in the arteries by strengthening the collagen tissues around the arteries, keeping them from expanding too much as blood pulses through.

The third vitamin which is important is one of the B-vitamins called folic acid. Folic acid, also called folacin, is important for reducing the level of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine is a metabolic by-product which can contribute significantly to the development of heart disease. So, when you take your multivitamin while you are on your way to do your exercises, make sure that it contains at least 400 IU of vitamin E, at least 500 mg of vitamin C (1000 is even better) and 40 mcg of folic acid.