Can You Use Supplements to Lower Your Blood Pressure?
Many adults have, or are at risk of having, elevated blood pressure—in fact, the American Heart Association puts the number at fifty percent of American adults and some sources put the figure at thirty percent of the world’s adult population.
Having high blood pressure puts a person at risk of serious health risks, including heart attacks and stroke. There are many ways to lower your blood pressure. Any doctor will tell you to quit smoking (if you smoke), exercise regularly, and reduce your alcohol intake—they may also recommend medication and lifestyle changes, including dietary changes, which may leave you wondering if there are supplements to lower blood pressure.
While there is no substitute for the advice of your doctor, if you are looking for ways to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, even before you have it, the following vitamins and minerals may have an effect.
The normal functions of magnesium in the body include its role in enzyme reactions, supporting the immune system, muscle tone, and regulating blood pressure. It is considered a critical mineral for the cardiovascular system and there is a noted link between lower intake of dietary magnesium and cardiac events. (1)
While there have been many studies to try and prove that magnesium supplementation lowers blood pressure, and some that have shown a link, many of the trials are short in duration or have other limitations.
A large meta analysis of 34 studies, involving a total of over two thousand participants across a variety of backgrounds concluded that supplementation with magnesium did lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure even in adults with normal blood pressure at the beginnings of the trials (2). The authors noted what they called a “casual blood pressure lowering effect” while also calling for more rigorous, longer term studies to truly determine an effect. The average dosage within the trials reviewed was 300mg over a period of one month and a normal recommended daily allowance of magnesium is between 310-420mg.
Researchers have noticed that there seems to be a link between low vitamin D levels in the blood and higher than normal blood pressure. Saying both that vitamin D appears to modulate blood pressure indirectly and that there needs to be further high quality investigations to prove a link, the authors concluded by saying “We suggest that physicians should keep a check on the Vitamin D levels of their patients in order to curb the ever-increasing incidence of hypertension.” (3)
It’s almost impossible to talk about blood pressure without mentioning potassium. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps eliminate excess sodium from the body. Higher sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure so it seems logical that higher potassium intake helps the body excrete more sodium and helps lower blood pressure but scientists have found its not that simple. While there have been numerous studies noting a lowering effect on blood pressure with potassium supplementation, including a 2017 meta-analysis of the evidence, it is often noted that the RDA of 90mcg is sufficient. (4) An excess of potassium has risks, especially for those with kidney disorders, and the American Heart Association recommends a diet both low in sodium and sufficient in potassium for all adults.
Coenzyme Q-10 is controversial as a supplement to lower blood pressure. It is synthesised by the body from various foods and generally supports energy production. While some studies have noted a lower systolic blood pressure reading with supplementation and a review of 17 studies found a “significant” reduction (5), the general consensus is that further studies are needed to prove more than an observed link.
While some studies have found supplementation of folic acid (folate) lowers blood pressure in those without any preexisting conditions, most of the studies are done in competition with blood pressure medication, which always outperforms it. (6) It has been well established that supplementation with folic acid doesn’t reduce the likelihood of cardiovascular events even if it does lower blood pressure.
A twenty year long study did find a casual link between higher folate intake in young adults and the risk of higher than normal blood pressure later in life (7) but as with most studies regarding supplements to lower blood pressure, the authors noted further studies needed to be conducted.
A semi-essential amino acid, L-arginine is responsible for smooth muscle relaxation and has a function in regulating blood pressure. Due to the known link between L-arginine and the cardiovascular system, many studies have tried to prove a link between using a l-Arginine supplement and lower blood pressure, with varying conclusions. A meta analysis of the available studies found that in general, L-Arginine did have an effect of lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure but caution that interpretations should be done lightly, as a majority of the studies were conducted in pregnant women with above average blood pressure. (8) The limitations of the studies means that no solid conclusions can be drawn.
A healthy gut has been linked to better overall health. Although researchers are not sure exactly what mechanism is responsible, it has been suggested that probiotic supplements contribute to a healthy gut microbiome. Specifically linking probiotics to heart health is difficult, although a review of 9 trials attempting to do just that did conclude there may be evidence to support the idea. Researchers noted that probiotics did lower blood pressure in some participants, with a greater effect seen with supplements which contained both a high number of organisms and more diversity in species. They also noted that the time supplements are taken matters, with a greater effect being seen among those who consumed probiotics for longer than eight weeks. (9)
Garlic may improve general cardiovascular health. Studied for its ability to reduce artery stiffness, Kyolic aged garlic was found to have an effect on blood pressure and improve gut microflora, a finding which may also support the role of a healthy gut in overall health. (10)
The evidence linking supplements and lower blood pressure is generally inconsistent or in some cases controversial. Potassium may have an effect, as may magnesium and probiotics, but following a healthy diet and reducing sodium intake are surefire, doctor recommended paths to the healthiest body possible.
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Please note: All information presented to you in this website is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. We cannot, and will not give you medical advice. We strongly recommend you consult your physician for any and all specific health issues. If you have any questions or contributions, please contact us via email or phone-call. We are constantly looking for new information to promote wellness – and hearing from you would make our day.