Mitral Valve Prolapse
Chart illustrating the links between MVP symptoms and nutritional deficiencies
Bacteria use the enzyme hyaluronidase to breakdown hyaluronic acid
Poor hyaluronic acid synthesis
raised histamine levels which contribute to:
Poor hyaluronic acid synthesis contributes to:
Lowered bone densities contribute to:
Deficiencies of zinc can result in imbalances of co-factors for zinc such as magnesium, calcium and copper
I had MVP, chest pain, heart palpitations and a heart murmur for most of my life. With the advent of the Internet, I started researching nutrition and MVP on the web and in alternative health books. As a result of my research, I made a significant number of diet changes, which led to an improvement in my MVP symptoms as well as many related conditions such as anxiety problems, muscle cramps, fibromyalgia and TMJ.
Listed below are the diet changes I made, followed by the rationale for each change:
1. I started eating a diet higher in fat and red meat - I was a semi-vegetarian on a low fat, high carbohydrate diet for years, and for years I had a heart problems. As soon as I switched my family to a higher fat, higher meat diet, my health improved, my heart problems subsided and we started not getting sick quite as often. After I changed my diet my doctor reported not being able to hear a heart murmur anymore. The "phoomphs" that I used to get in my heart every now and then also significantly subsided.
The book that helped me decide to make these diet changes was Super Nutrition for Women. It really opened my eyes about how I was not getting enough minerals and fat in the low fat, high carbohydrate diet I had been on before I read this book. I had nutriitonal testing after reading this book, and found out I was deficienct in vitamin B12 and biotin, common deficiencies for people on vegetarian diets.
Magnesium has been found
to be a key factor in many cases of MVP. Magnesium
is an estrogen dependent mineral, so by eating a very low fat, high
fiber diet -- the kind of diet that tends to reduce estrogen levels
-- I suspect this may have negatively impacted by body's ability to
2. I took acidophilus tablets which contained good bacteria. Many people with mitral valve prolapse, myself included, have or have had, systemic candidias or bacterial infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and easy bleeding tendencies (heavy menstrual bleeding, easy bruising, nose bleeds, etc.) In my case, there were highly logical reasons these conditions all occurred together.
By not having the right mix of intestinal bacteria, I had trouble digesting my food, causing irritable bowel syndrome. My body also did not make enough vitamin K, which is normally synthesized in the intestines by beneficial intestinal bacteria. Vitamin K is needed to make blood clot, so by not having enough vitamin K I became an easy bleeder. I would get big bruises on my legs from minor injuries and have trouble getting wounds to clot. These bleeding problems subsided when I changed my diet.
As noted above, I also had a biotin deficiency, which is another nutrient normally synthesized in the intestines by beneficial bacteria.
Recent studies show people with migraines may also benefit from helpful bacteria, which makes sense since migraines and MVP tend occur together.
See my section on Magnesium & Migraines for more on this topic.
3. I ate more magnesium rich foods. Magnesium is needed for hundreds of functions: to turn off adrenaline, improve the ability to fall asleep and relax muscles, to name a few. So people who are low in magnesium may have trouble sleeping, develop anxiety disorders from too much adrenaline and have muscles cramps and twitches.
Magnesium deficiencies have been linked to MVP in a number of studies. Interestingly, they are also linked to many of the conditions that commonly occur along with MVP such as fibromyalgia, migraines, ADD, and more.
3. I avoided foods that were magnesium antagonists. Consuming too many magnesium antagonists can lower magnesium levels, even for people who are eating a reasonable amount of magnesium in their diets. Many cereals, breads, white rice and multivitamins often supplemented and/or contain high amounts of iron and other magnesium antagonists, yet often very little magnesium. I avoid fortified cereals and multivitamins without magnesium. I've noticed that my kids get very agitated when they eat a lot of fortified breakfast cereals that have a lot of nutrients except magnesium.
Many foods these days are fortified with calcium, but not magnesium, so people who eat a lot of calcium fortified foods may be at higher risk for deficiencies of calcium co-factors such as magnesium. At least one group of researchers has wondered if the trend towards fortifying foods with calcium, but not magnesium, is a factor in the rising levels of asthma, another condition linked to both MVP and magnesium deficiencies.
Here's a quote from an asthma paper abstract from researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center: "During the past few years, there has been an increase in calcium consumption in the US population but little change in magnesium intake, which has caused an imbalance in the calcium:magnesium ratio."
4. I drink lots of unfiltered water. Recent studies show drinking plain water is good for your heart. Water is also a good source of magnesium. I don't drink distilled water or water run through a filter. While filters may indeed take impurities out of the water, they also take out many of the heart healthy minerals. I've noticed my kids get more high strung when we've filtered our water, so I stopped doing it, even though it sounds like a good idea.
5. I limit my salt intake - Many people with MVP have low blood pressure. Some mitral valve prolapse web sites recommend that people with MVP should consume extra salt to raise their blood pressure. I question this advice. Salt is an antagonist of magnesium, and as noted above, a number of studies show most people with mitral valve prolapse have magnesium deficiencies.
According to nutritionist Adelle Davis, another cause of low blood pressure can be deficiencies of any one of the B vitamins. B vitamin deficiencies can occur when digestion is poor, as in irritable bowel syndrome. I bought a home blood pressure monitor, and I've noticed that my blood pressure goes up slightly when I take helpful bacteria supplements and goes down whenever I take antibiotics. (Antibiotics tend to kill not only pathogenic bacteria but also the beneficial intestinal bacteria needed to synthesize and absorb some of the B vitamins.) Because of the links between MVP and irritable bowel, and my own deficiencies of B vitamins, I do wonder if the reason for the low blood pressure in people with MVP has more to do with poor digestion and nutritional deficiencies, than it does with a lack of salt.
The changes listed above are the top diet treatments that helped my mitral valve prolapse syndrome and related symptoms the most. In my case I had MVP as a part of a genetic disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is very similar to MVP syndrome. In fact, I've actually been diagnosed with both disorders (by different doctors), but the EDS diagnosis is what my current doctor feels fits me the closest based on my symptoms.
For more information on additional diet changes that helped my EDS and MVPS symptoms, see my section on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome: Diet Changes.
Related sections of interest:
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