Getting enough vitamins and minerals helps your body function at its best. But complications can ensue if you get too much or too little of a particular nutrient. Take a fluttering heart beat, for example — though rare, there are some supplements (or lack thereof) that can cause heart palpitations.
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Here's which vitamins can cause heart palpitations, why it can happen and how to deal with it.
If you're experiencing heart palpitations regularly despite eating a balanced diet, talk to your doctor. Some people, like those with an underlying condition that affects their ability to absorb certain vitamins or minerals, may require a different balance of nutrients to stay well, per the Mayo Clinic.
Insufficient folate (also referred to as folic acid or vitamin B9) can result in anemia, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Anemia, in turn, can cause heart palpitations.
Other symptoms of a folate deficiency may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating
Fix it: First, visit your doctor to confirm you have a folate deficiency. If you do, your doctor can recommend the right supplement for you or may suggest adding more natural sources of folic acid to your diet, per Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Folate-rich foods include:
- Beef liver
- Vegetables like spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts
- Legumes like beans, peas and lentils
And it's with the help of these foods that adults should aim to get the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans-recommended amount of 400 micrograms of folate per day.
2. Vitamin B12
Another vitamin deficiency that can lead to heart palpitations is vitamin B12. Similar to a folate deficiency, a lack of vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and thereby result in heart palpitations, per the ODS.
Fix it: A vitamin B12 deficiency can develop slowly and is often confused with other conditions, per Harvard Health Publishing, so visit your doctor to determine if you're lacking this nutrient. If you do have insufficient vitamin B12, your doctor will likely prescribe vitamins for heart palpitations and other symptoms in shot or supplement form.
It's also important to make sure you're getting enough of the nutrient if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, as animal products like meat are primary sources of the vitamin, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Vegetarian or not, aim to get 2.4 micrograms of the vitamin per day, per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Good sources of vitamin B12 include:
- Seafood like clams and crabs
- Beef and beef liver
- Nutritional yeast
- Fortified cereal
- Fortified soy products like tofu, soy milk and tempeh
- Dairy products like Swiss cheese, yogurt and milk
Can Too Much Vitamin B12 Cause Heart Palpitations?
There's no evidence to show that taking high doses of the vitamin can cause heart palpitations. However, it can lead to other symptoms, per the Mayo Clinic. These may include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Tingling sensation in hands and feet
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is another supplement that can cause heart palpitations when taken in high amounts.
Indeed, a March 2018 review in Circulation found that having excess vitamin D in your system was linked to an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes an irregular and often rapid heartbeat.
According to the Mayo Clinic, taking doses of 60,000 international units every day over the course of months can lead to this toxicity, though the researchers involved in the Circulation study noted that more research is needed to better determine the safe upper limit for vitamin D.
Fix it: To prevent this issue, adults should stick to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans-recommended 600 international units of vitamin D per day.
Visit your doctor if you show signs of a vitamin D overdose, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, can include:
- Frequent urination
Can Zinc or Vitamin C Cause Heart Palpitations?
However, per the ODS, a zinc deficiency can cause other symptoms like:
- Slowed growth
- Loss of appetite
- Impaired immune function
Also per the ODS, a lack of vitamin C can lead to:
- Gum inflammation
- Joint pain
- Poor wound healing
Too much zinc or vitamin C can also cause gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.
Having too much calcium in your blood — a condition called hypercalcemia — can sometimes lead to heart palpitations, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat are very rare and are the result of severe hypercalcemia.
Per the Mayo Clinic, hypercalcemia can develop if you take high doses of vitamin D or calcium supplements, are severely dehydrated, are immobile for a long period of time or as the result of a medication side effect. It can also be caused by an underlying condition, such as:
- A rare genetic disorder called familial hypocalciuric hypercalcemia
Fix it: If you suspect you have hypercalcemia, visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. And if you have an underlying condition that affects your body's ability to process calcium (like kidney disease), work with your doctor or dietitian to develop a diet plan that's right for you.
If you don't have any health concerns, though, stick to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans' recommended serving of 1,000 milligrams a day, or 1,200 milligrams if you're a person assigned female at birth (AFAB) over the age of 51.
L-lysine is an amino acid that helps your body absorb calcium and produce collagen, according to Mount Sinai.
But not getting enough l-lysine can cause heart palpitations indirectly: This deficiency can also lead to anemia, which can produce symptoms like irregular heartbeats, per the Mayo Clinic. It can also cause symptoms like:
- Loss of appetite
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slow growth
Fix it: Eat plenty of protein-rich foods, which contain lysine, according to Mount Sinai. These foods include:
- Soy products like tofu and tempeh
- Nuts and nut butters
- Legumes like beans, peas and lentils
Potassium is another supplement that can cause heart palpitations. It's an essential mineral and electrolyte that helps your heartbeat stay steady, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
But not getting enough of the nutrient can result in a condition called hypokalemia, which in severe cases can cause heart-related issues like palpitations and arrhythmias, per the ODS.
Other symptoms of hypokalemia to look out for include:
- Muscle weakness
- Burning or prickling feeling in your arms and legs
On the flip side, having too much potassium in your system — a condition called hyperkalemia — can lead to similar issues, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). In severe cases, it can lead heart arrhythmias.
People with kidney problems, heart problems and diabetes and those taking certain medications (like drugs to lower blood pressure) are at increased risk for this health issue. Per the AHA, other symptoms can include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Slow, weak or irregular pulse
- Muscle weakness
Fix it: Prevent a potassium deficiency or overload by eating the right serving of the mineral, which, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, means the following daily amounts for adults:
- People AFAB: 2,600 mg
- People assigned male at birth (AMAB): 3,400 mg
It's best to get your dose primarily through food sources of potassium, like:
- Leafy greens like beet greens and Swiss chard
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash
- Fruit like avocados, bananas and melons
- Legumes like beans, lentils and peas
- Fish like salmon and halibut
Severe hypokalemia and hyperkalemia can both be life-threatening, per the ODS. If you experience symptoms, seek medical care immediately.
What other vitamin deficiency causes heart palpitations? Well, severe cases of insufficient magnesium can result in cardiac problems like abnormal heart rhythms and coronary spasms, according to the ODS.
Magnesium also plays a role in your body's use of vitamin D, calcium and potassium, all of which can likewise contribute to heart palpitations.
Per the ODS, other symptoms of a magnesium deficiency can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness or tingling
- Muscle contractions or cramps
Fix it: Get the right dose of the nutrient to prevent a magnesium deficiency. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, that means eating the following amounts per day:
- People AFAB: 310 to 320 mg
- People AMAB: 400 to 420 mg
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Leafy greens like Swiss chard and spinach
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes and squash
Older adults and people with gastrointestinal conditions and type 2 diabetes are more at risk for severe magnesium deficiency, per the ODS. If you fall into any of those categories and experience symptoms, seek medical care.
Other Substances That Can Cause Heart Palpitations
While certain vitamins and minerals can cause heart palpitations, it's much more likely for something else in your diet to be causing this issue, such as:
"Heart palpitations are a potential concern with supplements containing green tea, guarana, yerba mate or kola nut — all ingredients that naturally contain caffeine," says Tod Cooperman, MD, president of Consumerlab.com, an independent testing company focused on health and nutrition products in White Plains, New York.
These ingredients are often combined in weight loss supplements — some of which include straight caffeine, he says.
Energy drinks, which contain stimulants including caffeine, may also cause heart palpitations, especially in kids, according to a December 2017 study in Pediatric Emergency Care. Some 40 percent of teens in the study reported a side effect from energy drinks, including heart palpitations.
An October 2014 study in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism also found that common energy drink ingredients like ginseng and taurine can affect your cardiovascular health.
These aren't just energy drink ingredients, though: Per a March 2018 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, products like these are also taken as supplements to enhance cognitive function.
Despite their benefits, these ingredients have been known to cause increases in blood pressure. You might also experience sensations like your heart racing after eating or drinking them.
In addition to supplements (especially those that contain caffeine or other stimulants), nicotine in tobacco products can lead to an irregular or fast-paced heartbeat, per the Mayo Clinic.
3. Certain Medications
Some medications can make your heart race, according to the Mayo Clinic. These can include:
- Asthma inhalers
- Drugs that control heart rhythm
- Thyroid medication
- Some over-the-counter cough and cold medicines
Do Other Supplements Cause Heart Palpitations?
There's no evidence to suggest that certain other supplements — like lutein, astaxanthin and berberine — cause heart palpitations as a side effect, per the Mayo Clinic.
How to Deal With Heart Palpitations
If you notice your heart starting to flutter, review all the medications and supplements you take to see if you can identify a cause, Dr. Cooperman says. "Stop any stimulant and caffeine-containing supplements, including energy drinks," he says.
If it's a prescription drug, over-the-counter medication or supplement you believe is causing your heart palpitations, ask your doctor about alternatives. And remember — the FDA doesn't require supplements to be proven safe or effective before they're sold, so there's no guarantee that any supplement you take is safe, contains the ingredients it says it does or produces the effects it claims.
Fortunately, a fluttering heartbeat that's infrequent or short-lived is often harmless and goes away on its own, so there's usually no need to learn how to control heart palpitations naturally.
But if you have a history of heart disease and experience palpitations that are occurring more frequently or getting worse, they can be a symptom of a more serious underlying condition, like an irregular heartbeat, per the Mayo Clinic. In this case, you should visit your doctor.
Other red flags that suggest heart palpitations may be a sign of something serious include:
- Chest pain
- Trouble breathing
- Dizziness or light-headedness
If you experience these issues, visit your doctor to determine the underlying cause and get the right treatment for your condition.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Folate Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Listing of Vitamins"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Potassium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- American Heart Association: "Hyperkalemia (High Potassium)"
- NIH: "Magnesium Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- Mayo Clinic: "Hypercalcemia"
- Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism: "Impact of Caffeine and Coffee on Our Health."
- International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism: "Nutritional Supplements and the Brain"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Folate-Deficiency Anemia"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: "2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin B-12"
- Circulation: "Abstract 14699: Vitamin D Excess Is Significantly Associated with Risk of Atrial Fibrillation"
- Mayo Clinic: "What is vitamin D toxicity? Should I be worried about taking supplements?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Vitamin deficiency anemia"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Vitamin C"
- Office of Dietary Supplements: "Zinc"
- Mount Sinai: "Lysine"
- Mayo Clinic: "Cholesterol-lowering supplements may be helpful"
- Mayo Clinic: "Heart palpitations"
- Mayo Clinic: "Heart arrhythmia"
- Pediatric Emergency Care: "Reasons for Energy Drink Use and Reported Adverse Effects Among Adolescent Emergency Department Patients"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “FDA 101: Dietary Supplements”