Keeping your heart healthy requires making many lifestyle changes; most people don’t realize that avoiding vitamin B12 deficiency is just as essential for your heart as eating heart-healthy foods, exercising, and reducing stress. Below are some pointers for promoting cardiovascular health, including reasons why extra vitamin B12 supplements are beneficial for a healthy heart.
1- Monitor your vitamin B12 levels
Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, supports many necessary biochemical functions in your body. Vitamin B12 helps you produce plenty of red blood cells, helps maintain your nervous system, assists in building DNA, and sustains normal metabolism, cognitive functioning, strength, and energy.
Vitamin B12 is also an essential nutrient for heart health, as it regulates homocysteine levels. In many studies, the hormone homocysteine has been found to increase your risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease. Vitamin B12 helps your body break down homocysteine, thus reducing your risk for heart disease.
The American Heart Association urges people to eat a healthy diet that includes folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 for optimal heart health.
Goal: Get tested! Elderly individuals, people diagnosed with pernicious anemia, patients of gastrointestinal disorders, or anybody who has had gastrointestinal surgery involving the removal of the ileum (gastric bypass) cannot absorb vitamin B12 in the stomach, and must take B12 supplements in order to avoid suffering B12 deficiency. To find out if you are at risk, request a blood screening for vitamin B12 deficiency from your doctor.
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2- Get moving
All health experts agree that incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, at least 5 days per week, is the single most important lifestyle change you can make for your heart. Conversely, increasing evidence indicates that living a sedentary lifestyle- watching several hours of television each day, sitting at a desk for long periods without breaks, and shunning exercise- is one of the biggest contributing factors to heart disease.
Goal: Break it down! If you’re daunted by the idea of spending 30 minutes on a treadmill, plan three 10-minute breaks in the day for exercise, instead. Walk your dog or do a window-shopping run around the mall (without stopping!). If you work at a desk, set your timer to alert you to get up and stretch at regular intervals.
3- Eat more heart-healthy foods
Prevent cardiovascular disease by following a low fat, low cholesterol diet. Avoid saturated trans-fats, and opt instead for small doses of healthy monounsaturated fats, like olive or canola oils. If you normally eat red meat, switch instead to lean poultry, which also contains plenty of vitamin B12. In addition to cutting down on fats, you should also eat more vitamin-enriched foods that are low in salt and refined carbohydrates.
Goal: Spice it up! Train your tongue to like nutritious, low-fat foods that have fewer “empty” calories. Go for high-fiber vegetables, grains, and legumes, lower-fat meats, cheeses, and spreads, and shake things up with dashes of cayenne pepper, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and granulated garlic. By focusing on the spices, you’ll feel more satisfied, and less likely to miss that fatty mouth-feel of fried foods.
4- Mind your weight
Numerous studies conclude that obesity is one of the greatest health risks that affect people today. Being overweight overburdens your entire body, contributing to illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and other life threatening conditions.
Goal: Size it down! By cutting down the size of your plate, you alternatively cut down your dress size. Try using smaller plates, include veggies, omit surgery drinks, eat slower, and resist the urge to go for seconds.
5- Don’t ignore the elephant in the living room
If you think you might be suffering some of the symptoms of heart disease, such as breathlessness, heart palpitations, increased sweating, call your doctor right away. Ignoring even the smallest signs can be a matter of life or death.
Goal: See your doctor! Pay attention to bodily cues, and schedule a checkup, immediately.
6- Keep your emotions in check
Stress, anxiety, and depression are all taxing on your heart. Succumbing to anger increases your chances for heart attack, as well.
Goal: Talk it out! When you feel nervous, sad, or stressed, confide in a friend or close family member. If you’re uncomfortable asking others for help, schedule a meeting with a psychiatrist or social worker, instead.
7- Snuff out the cigarettes
At the very least, you should quit smoking in order to improve your heart health and your lungs. Smoking is linked with asthma and chronic bronchitis.
Goal: Don’t give up! If you’ve tried to quit smoking in the past, then try again. Research shows that the more times you attempt to quit smoking cigarette, the greater the chances of eventually reaching that smoke-free goal. Ask your healthcare provider about quit-smoking programs, or try using a nicotine patch.
8- Cut down on alcohol
If you drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day, then you need to cut it down. Research shows that drinking too much alcohol is dangerous for the heart, as well as the liver.
Goal: Seek help! If the notion of keeping your alcohol drinking down to one or two beers each day sounds overwhelming, then you might require extra assistance from Alcoholics Anonymous.
9- Sleep soundly
If you snore, then you might be a candidate for heart failure or stroke, according to latest research on the heavy risks of snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of many factors that may lead to cardiovascular disease.
Goal: Wear your mask! So far, the best treatment for severe sleep apnea is wearing a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device (CPAP) while sleeping.
10- Take care of your choppers
Over time, your teeth develop a layer of plaque that contains bacteria. Unless you brush and floss regularly, you can get gum disease, causing bacteria to seep into your blood supply and contributing to heart disease.
Goal: Floss it! Floss and brush morning and evening, and floss after meals.
11- Set reasonable goals
Don’t fall victim to the “all or nothing” attitude. You don’t have to become a health and fitness enthusiast, but nor should you throw up your hands in despair. Accept that with every one success come numerous setbacks, and that lifestyle changes happen slowly, over a period of weeks, months, or even years.
Goal: Take baby steps! All successful weight-loss and fitness experts encourage you to set small, reachable short-term goals, in addition to the long-term goal of better health. This allows you to feel a small measure of success, and gives you the motivation you need to stay on the wagon. Congratulate yourself for losing 10% of your weight, losing a dress size, or every time you make a healthy food choice.
12- Respect your medications
Don’t think that just because you feel better, that you can stop taking your blood pressure medications. Many heart patients make that common mistake. If you are unhappy with a side effect of certain medications, then ask your doctor for an alternative. Conversely, don’t rely on medications alone to keep you healthy. It is essential to follow a heart-healthy diet, in addition to exercising and reducing stress, for optimal cardiovascular health.
Goal: Get organized! Keep your meds somewhere where you won’t forget them. If necessary, store a batch of precut tablets in a pill keeper.
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