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cardiovascular disease

Vitamin K―Protection Against Arterial Calcification & Cardiovascular Disease

Most people get just enough Vitamin K from their diets to maintain adequate blood clotting.

But NOT enough Vitamin K to offer protection against health problems including arterial calcification, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, various cancers and brain health problems, including dementia.

The name Vitamin K comes from the German word “Koagulationsvitamin” where its role in blood coagulation was first discovered.

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin. It is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. It’s found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamin K and Vitamin K supplements come in several forms and can be confusing. To increase your levels of Vitamin K, it’s important to understand the differences.

Vitamin K Can be Classified as Either K1 or K2

Vitamin K1: Found in green vegetables, K1 goes directly to your liver and helps you maintain a healthy blood clotting system; keeps your own blood vessels from calcifying, and helps your bones retain calcium.

Vitamin K2: Bacteria produce this type of Vitamin K; it goes straight to vessel walls, bones and tissues other than your liver. It is present in fermented foods, particularly cheese and the Japanese food natto (the richest source of K2).

Different Forms of Vitamin K2

Making matters even more complex, there are several different forms of Vitamin K2. MK-4 and MK-7 are the two most significant forms of K2 and act very differently in your body.

MK-4 is a synthetic product, very similar to Vitamin K1, and your body is capable of converting K1 into MK4. It has a very short biological half-life of about one hour, making it a poor candidate as a dietary supplement. It remains mostly in your liver where it is useful in synthesizing blood-clotting factors.

MK-7 is a newer agent with more practical applications because it stays in your body longer; its half-life is three days, meaning you have a much better chance of building up a consistent blood level, compared to MK-4 or K1. It slows down cardiovascular aging and osteoporosis, and prevents inflammation by inhibiting pro-inflammatory markers produced by white blood cells.

Food Sources of Vitamin K and MK-7

Photo by Like_The_Grand_Canyon on Flickr licensed CC-BY

MK-7 is extracted from the Japanese fermented soy product called ‘natto’. You get loads of MK-7 from natto. However, natto is generally not appealing to a Westerner’s palate (can’t tolerate its smell and slimy texture).

You can also find Vitamin K2, including MK-7, in other fermented foods including some fermented vegetables.

Certain types of fermented cheeses (Jarlsberg) are high in K2 but others are not. It really depends on the specific bacteria. You can’t assume that any fermented food will be high in K2.

Besides broccoli, Brussels sprouts and leafy green vegetables (kale, mustard greens, collard greens, raw Swiss chard, spinach), other foods high in Vitamin K include beef liver, pork chops and chicken, prunes and Kiwi fruit, soybean and canola oil.

Vitamin K Supplements

Choosing a K2 supplement: When supplementing your Vitamin K food sources, consider a high quality MK-7 form of vitamin K2. (Plus, as they are inexpensive, include Vitamin K1 and MK-4 to help inhibit and possibly reverse vascular calcification.)

Relentless Improvement

Dosage: Although the exact dosage of Vitamin K is yet to be determined, one of the world’s top Vitamin K researchers, Dr. Cees Vermeer recommends between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for normally healthy adults.

My choice: I’m taking Relentless Improvement Vitamin K2 MK4 Plus MK7; Read about it on Amazon.com. David Holzman writes that he uses Whole Foods Vitamin K2 which is less expensive. (Use our portal link to Amazon.com and support A-Fib.com)

(If you have a K2 supplement recommendation, email me.)

Remember!
Always take your Vitamin K supplement with food that contains fat
since it is fat-soluble and won’t be absorbed without it.

Read more about mineral deficiencies and Atrial Fibrillation, see FAQs: Mineral Deficiencies & Supplements for a Healthy Heart

This article is based on Dr. Mercola’s article, New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation.
Resources for this article
Mercola, J. New Study Shows Evidence That Vitamin K2 Positively Impacts Inflammation. Mercola.com. October 12, 2013. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/12/vitamin-k2-benefits.aspx

Cardiovascular Benefits of Magnesium: Insights for Atrial Fibrillation Patients

Magnesium and Long Life

Magnesium and Long Life

by Steve S. Ryan, PhD

What if there was a magic pill that would improve by 34% your chances of living a long, healthy life, you’d check it out, right?

Well, it’s not a pill, nor a medication. It’s magnesium—a mineral naturally present in many foods. Magnesium is important for anyone with a high cardiovascular risk (including patients with Atrial Fibrillation).

Magnesium is chronically lacking in most diets. Almost everyone with A-Fib is magnesium deficient.

Magnesium is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies. It’s chronically lacking in most diets. Almost everyone with A-Fib is magnesium deficient. (Also see my article: Mineral Deficiencies—Magnesium.)

reduced riskS of cardiovascular and cancer mortality

New insights come from researchers in Spain who carefully monitored the diets of 7,216 men and women between the ages of 55-80 (an age range more likely to develop A-Fib). The people in the highest third of magnesium intake (442 mg/day) were 34% less likely to have died from any cause over a five-year period. And they had a 59% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality, plus a 37% reduction in cancer mortality.

In contrast, most US adults ingest only about 270 mg of magnesium a day, well below the modest magnesium RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowance) of 420 mg for adult males and 320 mg for adult female. This creates a substantial cumulative deficiency over months and years.

In the above Spanish study, the highest average intake of magnesium (442 mg) was barely above the minimum RDA level for adult males. But a recommended daily dosage of magnesium is a minimum 600 mg/day, preferably 800 mg.

Marta Guasch-Ferré wrote me that many individuals in her study (289) consumed more than 600 mg of magnesium/day. In this Spanish Mediterranean population, the intake of magnesium was relatively high. They ate a lot of fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Cardiovascular Benefits of magnesium

The authors of this study discussed why the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) was lowered by ingesting more magnesium. “Hypertension is a strong risk factor for CVD, and it is known that magnesium can lower blood pressure. Also, magnesium intake may inhibit platelet aggregation, modulate inflammation, and improve endothelial function.”

A Harvard study indicated that higher intakes of magnesium were linked with a 22% reduction in the risk of ischemic heart disease.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists the benefits of magnesium as keeping heart rhythm steady (like antiarrhythmic A-Fib meds), maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping bones strong. It’s also needed for healthy blood pressure and blood sugar management.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has stated that magnesium is important in the maintenance of normal bone, teeth, and protein synthesis; the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; electrolyte balance; normal energy-yielding metabolism; neurotransmission, and muscle contraction. Other studies support magnesium’s benefits for metabolic pathways, blood pressure, reducing the risk of stroke, and reducing the risk of colon cancer.

A Harvard study indicated that higher intakes of magnesium were linked with a 22% reduction in the risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD—clots, stroke).

Food Insufficient Source of magnesium

Almost anyone reading this article should probably be taking more magnesium. Ideally you should get the magnesium you need from the food you eat. But the reality is magnesium has been depleted from our soil by over farming. You probably need some form of oral magnesium supplement.

Aim for more than the bare minimum RDA (420 mg for men, 370 mg for women). A recommended dosage is 600 mg-800 mg/day. (For example, 200 mg three times a day and 200 mg at bedtime.) But start off with very low dosages. Excess magnesium or magnesium sensitivity can cause loose stools and diarrhea which is counterproductive, because of the loss of electrolytes.

Six Months to Replenish magnesium levels

It may take as long as six months to replenish your intracellular magnesium levels. (Check with your doctor. But because magnesium is a natural substance and not a medication, some US doctors won’t consider magnesium as a viable therapy.)

US consumers are waking up to the benefits of magnesium. US sales of magnesium supplements grew by 15% from 2010 to 2011.

Your doctor should be able to test you for intracellular magnesium. (Blood serum tests are misleading. They remain relatively stable [at about 1%], even though working intracellular magnesium levels may be low.) To learn more about the distinction between serum and intracellular magnesium levels, see the article, Low Serum Magnesium Linked with Atrial Fibrillation.

A faster way to improve your magnesium levels is with a magnesium IV. Magnesium IVs are used in Europe in the ER to restore normal heart rhythm in patients with A-Fib, but not generally in the US. Dr. Julian Whitaker in Newport Beach, CA performs this therapy (www.drwhitaker.com).

Continue Magnesium Supplements?

Even if you don’t have A-Fib or you have been made A-Fib free by a catheter ablation, you should still probably consider increasing the amount of magnesium you are taking, through food and/or supplements.

References for this article
Guasch-Ferre, MM et al. Dietary magnesium intake is inversely associated with mortality in adults at high cardiovascular risk. J Nutr. 2014 January;144(1):55-60. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2013/11/20/jn.113.183012

Daniells, S. Magnesium may help people with heart problems to live longer. NUTRA Ingrediaants-usa.com. Dec. 2, 2013. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Magnesium-may-help-people-with-heart-problems-to-live-longer

Daniells, S. More magnesium may slash heart disease risk by 30%: Harvard meta-analysis. NUTRA Ingredients-usa.com May 30, 2013. http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/More-magnesium-may-slash-heart-disease-risk-by-30-Harvard-meta-analysis

First published August 2014

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Last updated: Saturday, October 29, 2016

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