Women have more heart attacks than men. Women take more calcium supplements than men. There are several studies documenting increased risk of heart disease in women who simply take inorganic calcium supplements.

The term endothelium refers to the glycoproteins covering the first layer of  cells lining the blood vessels. These sugar antennas serve to lift the blood off the artery wall to reduce drag/friction of the blood moving through the tube (see my book). Having sufficient sugar nutrients available to build a healthy endothelium is imperative. However, good health is never built on just one set of nutrients–no matter how important they are. Calcification in the circulatory system is the most serious problem to avoid in matters of the heart. It is not cholesterol. Controlling excessive levels of calcium in the body is closely tied to having enough magnesium.

Dr. Carolyn Dean, in her book, The Magnesium Miracle, states “I see the endothelium affected by lack of nitric oxide due to magnesium deficiency, mitochondrial dysfunction due to magnesium deficiency, and calcium-triggered endothelium dysfunction due to magnesium deficiency.”

The coronary arteries are the arteries that feed the heart muscle itself (not the rest of the body). Magnesium prevents blood clot formation and artery spasm. When the coronary arteries leave the aorta they are very small and it doesn’t take much to plug them up.  A nickle (U.S. currency) is 2 mm thick and these arteries are only 3 mm wide. As they branch out and divide (called bifurcations) they get smaller and smaller. Some of the tiniest capillaries at the bottom of the heart are only as wide as one red blood cell! Cardiologists estimate that 85 percent of plaques occur at the bifurcation junctures/branches and are a result of some type of injury.

Under the endothelium cells is a very thin connective tissue that contains elastin. This layer provides the elasticity or ability of the arteries to stretch and shrink as blood pushes through it. Under this connective tissue are the smooth muscle cells which allow the arteries to help push the blood forward when the heart is in a relaxed state before it beats again. Calcium causes contraction and magnesium causes relaxation which controls the blood pressure and flow of blood. Animal studies show that a low magnesium diet causes a loss of elasticity in their arteries. Coronary arteries require more elasticity than any other artery because they must flex as the heart expands and contracts. The bifurcation junctures are Y-shaped. When you stretch the artery, the most stress will be near the Y rather than anywhere else in the tube.

Inflammation begins with injury to the artery wall leading to white blood cells and cholesterol hovering around trying to heal it. At this stage, if there is too much calcium precipitating out of the blood and not enough magnesium keeping it in solution, then a calcified plaque will form and make the area rigid/hard. Over time, this process of weakening and laying down calcium plugs the artery and destroys small areas of the heart muscle. The final result is chest pressure/pain, increased damage to larger portions of heart muscle and finally a heart attack.

The evidence has been mounting for decades. According to Dean, “death rates from coronary heart disease are higher in communities with magnesium-deficient water and magnesium-deficient diets. Areas where calcium in the water is much higher than magnesium or where dietary intake of calcium is higher that magnesium showed even more coronary heart disease.”

It would seem prudent to ensure sufficient magnesium is part of your diet. Foods with higher levels of magnesium include avocados, almonds, dark chocolate, cashews, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, chia seeds, salmon, halibut, bananas, and leafy greens.

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