It may seem obvious, but your heart is arguably the most important muscle in your body. It keeps life flowing through your body, after all! But if your heart doesn’t work at full capacity, it can significantly affect your quality of life. Considering that cardiovascular diseases affect nearly half of American adults, it is worth your while to stay on top of your heart health and take proactive measures to make sure this vital organ is staying at its best. But with so many lifestyle and genetic factors that may affect heart disease risk, from a lack of exercise to following a high-fat diet, where do you start?
“Good nutrition and lifestyle habits play important roles in maintaining a healthy, functioning heart muscle,” says Rebekah Blakely, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist for The Vitamin Shoppe. Blakely underscores that supporting heart health should be a holistic approach, but sometimes it can be more targeted if your body is missing certain nutrients: “When your body’s daily needs cannot be met, or deficiencies occur, a dietary supplement may be able to help fill in the gap.”
There are multiple effective supplements for heart health, but there is one, in particular, that Blakely recommends: magnesium, which has many functions in the body. (Note that you should always consult with a medical professional before making any drastic changes to your diet or supplement routine.)
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“Magnesium works alongside calcium to contract and relax the heart muscle, creating a healthy heartbeat,” says Blakely. “Magnesium has a relaxing effect on both muscles and blood vessels, and therefore also plays a role in maintaining healthy blood pressure. And low magnesium levels have even been associated with increased mortality rates, including from cardiovascular causes.”
Magnesium deficiency is also common in adults, according to Blakely, and contributing factors may include high-stress levels, poor diets, decreased mineral content in our soil and foods, medication usage, and chronic diseases.
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Studies have shown that almost two-thirds of the Western population doesn’t meet the daily recommendation for magnesium intake. According to the National Institutes of Health, that is 420mg for men, and 320mg for women.
And one study found that 80% of patients being treated with diuretic drugs for hypertension for six months or more were found to have depleted magnesium levels.
If you’re looking to start a magnesium supplement, start by making sure you’re meeting the daily recommendations for intake.
“Discuss your specific magnesium needs with your doctor or dietitian who has your full list of health conditions and medications available,” adds Blakely.
Try these dietitian-recommended brands:
- Vitamin Shoppe Magnesium Glycinate: Gentle on the stomach and well absorbed.
- Vitamin Shoppe Calm Zone Magnesium Powder: Fast absorption in a convenient powder form; drink hot or cold.
- Natural Vitality Calm Magnesium Gummies: Tasty, low-sugar chewable option for those who don’t want more pills .
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