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When you think of any disease that has the most controversy, it is the heart. Yet, for all intents and purposes, it is the most simplistic. What really matters to the heart is what is present to nourish it. Nourishment allows it to function, the lack thereof, causes it to struggle to function. While there are many fancy names for the varying ways the heart can struggle, the way the heart responds to what goes into the mouth (or what doesn’t go into the mouth!) is what matters the most.


The heart is the most sensitive organ to nutritional influences. We have more control over our heart health than most people realize. That starts with control of our foods. The heart needs a healthy helping of many vitamins, minerals and fats.


Magnesium is a very important one. Magnesium helps to regulate sodium in the cell (pump it out) and allows potassium into the cell. The balance of Magnesium to Calcium is important for proper blood coagulation (Magnesium inhibits coagulation; Calcium encourages it – balance is crucial!). Magnesium is a controlling mechanism for heart beat regularities – a deficiency can contribute to cardiac arrhythmias. Also a deficiency is linked to sudden death from ischemic heart disease.


Calcium combined with Potassium is important in regulating heart beat and blood pressure. Too much or too little calcium can cause blood pressure problems and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes.


Potassium, in addition to regulating blood pressure, is needed for healthy nerve transmission – needed for regulating the heartbeat.


B Vitamins, especially Folic Acid, B6 and B12 are important. Mostly they regulate homocysteine in the blood (compounds which damage blood vessel walls and promote blood clots). B Vitamins are co-factors in the energy-producing pathways in the cells and deficiency has been linked to myocardial dysfunction.


Niacin, aka Vitamin B3, works as a vasodilator – relaxes blood vessels – which can reduce BP and increase blood flow to tissues. This can improve peripheral blood disorders and some claim it helps cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but that may be due to vasodilation, rather than lowering the levels.


Omega 3 fatty acids have long been recognized as being helpful in cholesterol and triglyceride regulation and tissue repair.


Vitamin E – true vitamin E, from foods – can assist in oxygenation to the tissues and regulating blood viscosity. Studies have been inconclusive mostly because in the past 50 years the studies have been on synthetic Vitamin E – d-alpha-tocopherol – rather than the whole Vitamin E compound.


Vitamin D helps the nerves surrounding the heart to access the calcium they need to help steady the heartbeat. It helps prevent hypertrophy/enlargement of the heart.


Vitamin C is important in protecting and repairing arterial walls. It also helps with blood pressure regulation, collagen production, iron absorption and transportation and allowing blood vessels to relax to improve blood flow. It can be a great contributor to reduction in heart failure. It is important that the food form, not ascorbic acid, be used for these purposes.


What really matters to the heart is quality nutrition. Learn more in an upcoming health class, “How to Improve Cardiovascular Health Naturally,” Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 7pm at Vital Health in CDA. Fee: $10. RSVP: 208-765-1994 or register here:


© 2016 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.

The Heart of the Matter

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Doctor of Oriental Medicine

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Dr. Holly A. Carling

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Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience.  Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic.  Visit Dr. Carling’s website at to learn more about Dr. Carling, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles.  Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 or and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.