Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) remain the leading cause of death worldwide. Several risk factors, including genetics, sex, and age, increase the risk of CVDs. Other factors that contribute to CVD risks are nutritional irregularities, metabolic anomalies, being overweight, and obesity.
In a recent review published in Nutrients, researchers discuss how certain minerals and vitamins impact the development and progression of CVDs in adults and children.
Study: How Do Minerals, Vitamins, and Intestinal Microbiota Affect the Development and Progression of Heart Disease in Adult and Pediatric Patients? Image Credit: fizkes / Shutterstock.com
Nutrients and vitamins for cardiovascular health
Both macro- and micro-nutrients are essential for the proper development and maintenance of the overall health of humans. As compared to macronutrients like proteins and carbohydrates, micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are required in trace amounts. Micronutrients play a crucial role in many physiological processes involved in bone health, immune function, blood clotting, and nerve function.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy products are important sources of micronutrients. The relationship between mineral deficiencies and CVDs is complex and multidimensional. Individuals with vitamin A, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin D deficiencies experience disrupted cardiovascular function, compromised immune responses, and impaired vascular health.
Malnutrition, particularly during critical developmental stages like pregnancy and early childhood, has long-term effects on cardiovascular health. A proper diet with well-balanced macro-and-micro nutrition reduces the risk of CVDs.
Vitamins are essential organic compounds that are categorized as fat-soluble or water-soluble vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies significantly increase the risk of CVDs.
For example, vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and provides protection against oxidative stress, a well-known risk factor for CVD. Vitamin K is essential for proper blood clotting and helps maintain healthy blood vessels.
Although there are many health benefits of vitamin A, its impact on the cardiovascular system is not well understood. There is no evidence on whether vitamin A affects the incidence of hypertension, despite its association with endothelial function by altering nitric oxide pathways. Several studies have shown that vitamin A functions as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Vitamin B6 reduces interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels and increases the level of total lymphocytes in people with chronic inflammation, which is a crucial mechanism for the development of atherosclerosis. Several studies have shown that vitamin B12 and B9 deficiencies lead to an increase in total homocysteine (tHcy) in the blood, which is linked with CVD progression.
Among all micronutrients, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin D deficiencies often adversely affect pediatric patients. Severe iron deficiency leads to anemia, which affects cardiovascular health by reducing oxygen delivery to tissues and increasing stress on the heart. Chronic anemia in children has been linked with a greater risk of CVDs, including hypertension.
The role of intestinal microbiota
Vitamins and minerals are key to maintaining overall health and supporting the gut microbiota. Microorganisms in the gut are crucial for supporting digestion, immune function, metabolism, and nutrient absorption. Emerging evidence suggests that dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota could contribute to the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, including CVD.
Previous studies on patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have identified dysfunctions, dysbiosis, and entire networks of intestinal microflora, thus suggesting that CAD could be treated by targeted modifications of the gut microbiota. The hereditary aspects of CVD could be mitigated by taking a prophylactic approach to pre- and probiotics during adolescence; however, larger trials are needed to confirm the benefits of this treatment strategy.
Developing a clear understanding of the gut microbiome is important for growth, development, and overall health. Future research is needed to elucidate the various functions of the gut microbiota and identify therapeutic targets in various metabolic disorders and diseases. Studying the various enzymes and genes that influence the impact of the gut microbiota on health and disease will be crucial.