Nutrition for the Heart: Rate & Rhythm

In this article:

  • Balancing the autonomic nervous system (ANS) with Potassium and Phosphorus
  • Regulating heart rhythm with Calcium and B4

Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) 

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) consists of the sympathetic (fight or flight), parasympathetic (rest and digest) and enteric nervous system. The ANS is about balance, or homeostasis, and includes control of cardiovascular function, temperature, metabolism, digestion, reproduction and healing. In Chinese medicine, we can loosely relate the sympathetic nervous system to Yang functions of the body and parasympathetic nervous system to Yin functions of the body.

“Autonomic dysfunction produces a complex array of clinical problems including cardiovascular dysregulation resulting in inappropriate blood pressure and heart rate responses to physiological stressors, erectile dysfunction, and thermoregulatory and sweating.” —Reviews in Clinical Gerontology 2011 (33)

Phosphorus: The Gas

Phosphorus is the fire of the body. Think phosphorus flares. When the body is parasympathetic dominant (sluggish, slow heart beat, fatigue) phosphorus is often needed. Phosphorus is the fuel for the ANS and essential for energy (ATP).

ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is our body's molecular energy currency. Within the word Adenosine triphosphate, you might notice Tri and Phosphate. Tri = 3 and Phosphate = Phosphorus. In order for our body to make ATP or energy, it needs 3 phosphate molecules per 1 adenosine molecule. Many of us are running on adeno diphosphate (only 2 molecules of phosphorus) or adeno monophosphate (only 1 molecule of phosphorus), which causes our sympathetic nervous system to underperform. 

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a nucleotide used in cells as a coenzyme. It is often called the ‘molecular unit of currency’: ATP transports chemical energy within cells for metabolism. Every cell uses ATP for energy.” (32) 

At Lakewood Community Acupuncture, using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can assume parasympathetic dominance when we record a long rest period—longer than 1:2 (work to rest ratio) as seen above. For most patients with a long rest period and concurrent low energy or other parasympathetic dominant symptoms, taking phosphorus will significantly increase energy and begin to bring the ANS back into balance.

Potassium: The Breaks

Potassium acts as the brakes for your ANS. When the body is deficient in Potassium, the heart is unable to properly regulate glucose intake and your heart will race. This is a sympathetic dominant state, where your body is caught in a fight or flight response. Using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can assume sympathetic dominance when we record a short rest period—shorter than 1:2 (work to rest) ratio, as seen above. Potassium can calm the ANS, often relaxing an anxious or stressed body, improving sleep and bringing the heart back to a normal healthy rate.

Potassium plays a role in every heartbeat. A hundred thousand times a day, it helps trigger your heart to squeeze blood through your body… It also helps your muscles to move, your nerves to work, and your kidneys to filter blood.” —WebMD (34) 

“...If you’re deficient in potassium your heart tends to run away; to race. Paroxysmal Tachycardia is a specific example you can correct that right now with alfalfa tea or alfalfa tablets or mineral extracts of alfalfa or kelp... Paroxysmal Tachycardia often comes on after a heavy meal. Why? Because you eat a lot of carbohydrates and ice cream and sugar, pie, cake: That sugar has to be stowed away in the liver and muscles and it requires potassium to go along with it. When the potassium is all used up and there’s some sugar left maybe, that’s when you’re really in trouble, that’s when the ol’ heart starts popping off.... Number one, cut down the carbohydrates and number two, get more potassium. That will clear it right up.” Excerpt from Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Vol. II., Selene River Press, Inc.

Calcium and an Irregular Heart Beat

Calcium is another mineral that is important for proper rhythm of the heart. When there is low tissue calcium, the heartbeat can become irregular. Getting enough tissue calcium requires Calcium, vitamin D and essential fatty acids.

“… found that calcium in arrhythmia revealed the anxiety, the dyspnea, and palpitations while it regularized the rhythm.” —Calcium Therapy in Diseases of the Cardiovascular System (39) 

“Calcium cycling defects have emerged as a critical form of molecular dysfunction that directly contributes to contractile dysfunction and associated malignant arrhythmia in failing hearts”—The Journal of Physiology (40) 

“Deprived of sufficient calcium, the heart can beat erratically, possibly leading to fatal stoppage.”—Health, Novel Drug Attacks the Cause of Some Cardiac Attacks, Ron Winslow, 2004

“When the heart pumps properly, the muscle contractions are regulated by waves of calcium… In atrial fibrillation, the calcium is released too early. As it leaks out, the heart beats too fast and irregularly.” —Dr Xander Wehrens, assistant professor of molecular physiology and biophysics. 

Using the Heart Sound Recorder, we can record irregular heart beats as seen above, and assume some Calcium deficiency and/or B4 deficiency (images above and below).

Vitamin B4 (and B1): Enlarged Heart and Irregular Heart Beat 

B4 is the anti-paralysis vitamin. It helps the heart receive and interpret electrical information. This is not the same as the nervous system giving electrical information. When the heart muscle is deficient in B4, the muscle tone relaxes and the heart beat becomes irregular. The relaxation of the heart muscle can lead to an enlarged heart and a separation of the valves, causing the valves to not close properly. (49)

B4 is found in organ meats such as liver, and in lower quantities in rice bran and brewers yeast. Also found dried grass, peanuts, wheat germ, pork brain, pork kidneys (38). B4 cannot be synthesized in the lab, so most multivitamins and B supplements don't contain it. B4 is depleted by anything that stresses our liver: sugar, alcohol. 

“...Well when the heart enlarges, the valves are made of cartilage, they don’t enlarge, so that the opening enlarges along with the heart and there’s bound to be leakage from the enlargement. It’s that simple. You supply some of this Vitamin B [B4] which promotes the muscle tone, the heart will contract to normal size, usually inside of ten minutes. The valve leakage disappears… ” Excerpt from Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Vol. II., Selene River Press, Inc.

“...the most common reaction of B4 deficiency. The innervation to the heart becomes partly paralyzed, the pulse becomes erratic, extra systoles are common, and ultimately fibrillation may develop.” —The Vitamin Front, 1947, Address to Naturopathic Physicians of Florida by Dr Royal Lee. 

If you wish to be evaluated by our Applied Clinical Nutritionist, you can schedule your Heart Sound Recorder Appointment by clicking here.



  13. Szent-Györgyi - The scientist who discovered vitamin C & P 2013
  15. Block That Stroke, by J.D. Ratcliff, COLLIER'S WEEKLY - The Unz 
  17. Gyorgyi LETTER to editor NATURE 7-4-36
  18. Effect of Different Flavonoids on Collagen Synthesis in Human Fibroblasts
  49. Excerpt from Lectures of Dr. Royal Lee, Vol. II., Selene River Press, Inc.
Ben Ramirez
Ben Ramirez
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Lindsay Hovland
Lindsay Hovland
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Coleen C
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