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  Heart Palpitations

An Overlooked Cause and Treatment


"Many disorders of heart rhythm are related to an insufficient level of magnesium in the heart muscle. Magnesium was first shown to be of value in the treatment of cardiac arrythmias in 1935."

Excerpt from Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine

(italics added for emphasis)


Until I changed my diet to get more magnesium, I had heart palpitations for most of my life. I'd be sitting in a chair or resting quietly and then all of a sudden, for no obvious reason, I could start to feel my heart beat really fast. After a few minutes it would go back to normal, and then, maybe a day later or even a few hours later, it would happen again. Often it would happen when I was lying in bed at night.

I had especially bad heart palpitations when I was pregnant with my first son. I was treated by a cardiologist for my condition at that time, including wearing a heart monitor for a day to record my heart beats. I had a lot of episodes during the day I wore the monitor where I could hear and feel my own heart beating erratically for about 30 seconds every hour or so. The results of the tests were that I was told that this was "normal" - that a lot of people had these problems and no treatment was needed. (Using this unusual type of logic, I guess you could say breast cancer and obesity are also "normal", because lots of people have those conditions, as well.) I realized even then that having your heart start to beat wildly while you are sitting quietly watching a movie is not normal, but at the time I didn't know where else to turn. So I just did nothing, as I was advised.



Magnesium as Treatment

Oddly enough, I read about magnesium for MVP and heart palpitations in a book I bought at the grocery store check out stand. Once I added a lot of magnesium rich foods to my diet, my MVP symptoms went away. No more heart "phoomphs", no more heart palpitations, no more heart murmur. I had these problems in varying degrees all of my life, and in a few months after buying that book they were all gone. I don't understand why my cardiologists, who label themselves as experts in the field of heart care, weren't aware of studies on MVP that were so well publicized you could literally find them in a book at the corner grocery store. It still seems very puzzling to me. However, based upon my email I believe that a lack of knowledge regarding mineral and vitamin deficiency problems among doctors is still a wide spread problem in America today.

Poor functioning heart tissues can develop from refined demineralized foods.
Bernard Jensen, writing in You Can Master Disease

In a study at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Center, a part of the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, found that in women past menopause, a low magnesium diet resulted in heart rhythm changes, which were halted by a diet providing about 300 mg of magnesium a day. The RDA for magnesium, as set by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, for women thrity-one, who are not pregnant or breast feeding, is 320 mg a day. Unfortunately, a number of studies show that many Americans do not consume the recommended amounts of magnesium each day, which may explain why heart palpitations are such a common problem.

Reader Tips

One of my web site readers decreased heart palpitations by cutting out coffee (which lowers magnesium levels) and eating more bananas, a magnesium rich food.

Another web site reader wrote that her palpitations stopped when she added raw broccoli and bananas to her diet.


Associated Conditions

Other conditions that may be caused by a deficiency of magnesium include migraines, mitral valve prolapse, noise sensitivity, anxiety and depression, muscle cramps, insomnia, TMJ and fibromyalgia. Magnesium is a trace mineral needed for hundreds of different functions within the body, so a deficiency of this one important mineral can cause a wide range of adverse seemingly unrelated health conditions. Muscle and autonomic nervous system relaxation depend upon adequate magnesium levels, so if magnesium is lacking people will often be tense both physically and emotionally. Heart palpitations are often associated with stress, however, I suspect it would be more logical to think along the lines that palpitations and stress are inter-related because both conditions may be symptoms of a magnesium deficiency.

Heart Palpitations and Pregnancy

The diets of Americans of all ages are likely to be deficient in magnesium, which is especially needed during pregnancy.

Adelle Davis, writing in Let's Have Healthy Children

I wish I knew back when I was pregnant what I know now about heart palpitations. The studies linking my condition to magnesium deficiencies were around at that time before my first son was born, but that was in the pre-Internet era and I didn't know back then where to to seek out this information. I just trusted my doctors to know what was best for me instead of doing my own research. I will never, ever make that mistake again.

My son ended up being fairly healthy, but he does have hypermobile joints, the long Marfan limbs like me, difficulty gaining weight, gets easily injured and has had a fair bit of problems with allergies. I do wonder if I had had more magnesium when I was pregnant if he would have been a healthier child than he is today.

Vegetable Broth for Palpitations?

One of my children deveopled heart palpitations one evening after having the flu. He had been throwing up and not taking in a lot of food. I made a magnesium rich vegetable broth for him with whatever veggies I had in the house at the time. Within a few minutes of having the broth his palpitations stopped.

I don't remember exactly which vegetable were in the broth, but I 'm pretty sure I added artichoke hearts (the frozen kind) and fresh celery. I also probably added fresh carrots, green beans, yellow zquash, romaine lettuce leaves and zucchini. I don't know if this broth would help anyone else, but since most people in Western societies do not consume either enough magnesium or enough vegetables on a daily basis, it might be worth a try. (For more on this topic see my page on how to have a magnesium rich diet. )

To make the broth I cut the vegetables up into small pieces. With the harder vegetables, like the zucchini and carrots, I shredded them to get more of the nutrients to leach into the water. I then added water to cover the mixture, brought it to a boil on the stove (not microwave) and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Then I strained out the vegetables and had him drink the broth. The rationale for this is that, being a liquid, the broth was easy for him to digest and should have been rich with magnesium and other nutrients that leached into the water during the simmering process. The broth was also an alkaline substance, which may have helped with his pH balance. Some health experts believe that an an acid load in the body may contribute to magnesium deficiencies in some people.


Heart palpitations are linked to caffeine consumption. I suspect at least a partial reason for this is because caffeine is known to deplete magnesium levels.


I can't turn back the clock, but from here on in I've learned that it is vitally important to do my own research to find the most current treatments for my family's health problems. We still see conventional medical doctors for many of our health problems in my family, but I always take what they say with a grain of salt, and I always compare what they tell me to what I find out from my own nutrition and alternative health books, Internet research and visits to holistic doctors, too.




Related sections of interest:

Treating MVP Symptoms with Diet

More Causes of Calcium Deposits

What Causes Mitro Valve Prolapse (MVP)?


Selected Sites:

Magnesium Lowers Heart, Diabetes Risks - "People in the study who ate magnesium-rich diets seemed to be protected against developing metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. "

For a list of books that helped my connective tissue disorder symptoms, including my fibromyalgia, TMJ, MVP and scoliosis, please see my recommended book list.


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