Cardiac muscle or heart muscle makes up the bulk of the heart's mass. This muscle is an extremely specialized form of muscle that pumps blood throughout the body. In normal adults, the heart will beat at a rate of 60 to 100 times per minute. Arrhythmia is a set of conditions in which the heartbeat is irregular - either too slow or too fast. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 3 million cases of arrhythmias in the USA per year. The symptoms of a cardiac arrhythmia may include palpitations, dizziness, fainting spells, fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain.
As seen in illustration, the heart's upper two chambers are the atria, and the two lower chambers are the ventricles. Normally, the signal for the heart to beat comes from heart's sinus node (seen in the upper portion of the right atrium) which works as a natural pacemaker. The heartbeat signal then travels to the atrioventricular node (found between the atria) and on to the muscles of the ventricles. This stimulates the ventricles to contract, resulting in a heartbeat(1).
The importance of a properly performing heart to one's health is unquestioned, and there is much scientific evidence that good nutrition plays a significant role in support of heart heath, and normal heartbeat. Studies have demonstrated that some of the most crucial minerals for heart health include magnesium, potassium and calcium. These minerals play very specific roles in the generation of a proper heartbeat. Calcium and magnesium work together to control muscle contraction, while sodium and potassium help the nerve cells send electrical signals that signal the muscles to contract. Today we take a closer look at calcium's specific roles in heart health.
Calcium's Role in Heart Health
Calcium is known for its essential involvement in the building and maintenance of bones. However, it also plays critical roles in the function of the heart. The heart is formed from specialized muscles cells that when functioning properly work automatically, without the heart skipping a beat. The stimulation for the contraction of the cardiac muscle is a bit different from the stimulation of skeletal muscle contraction. We can willingly stimulate skeletal muscle contraction, which is not so for the cardiac muscles. Thee muscles work automatically, at a rate of about 70 beats or contractions per minute. Meaning that the heart muscles must contract and relax about 100,000 times per day(2). Calcium is critical to the regulation of the contraction and relaxation of the cardiac muscle. Cardiac muscles contract from the stimulation of a unique group of cardiac cells known as the sinoatrial node (SA node). Cardiac muscle contraction is directly determined by the level of calcium elevation during the phase of the heartbeat when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood from the chambers into the arteries(3). Calcium fires the SA node, which stimulates the rest of the cardiac cells to contract and the heart beat is made. A defect in the removal of the calcium from the cytosol during diastole would impair cardiac relaxation, which is needed to allow the heart chambers to refill with blood needed for the next contraction.
Proper heart rhythm is reliant on the adequate dietary intake of calcium. Balchem's Albion minerals provide a gentle and bioavailable form of calcium called Calcium Bisglycinate Chelate. Supplementing the diet with this form of calcium helps to ensure that an adequate amount of calcium is being absorbed and utilized by the body. Look for supplements containing this form.
- Harvard Medical School. (2018). Cardiac Arrhythmias Retrieved June 27, 2018, from Harvard Health Online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/cardiac-arrhythmias-a-to-z
- Stephanie C. (2017). Cardiac Cell Functions Retrieved Aug. 14, 2017, from Livestrong.com: https://www.livestrong.com/article/130045-cardiac-cell-functions/
Marks AR. (2003). Journal of Clinical Investigation, 111(5):597-600.
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