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Supplements for Controlling Blood Pressure

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
6
January 12, 2022

Research shows that some supplements may help lower blood pressure. These include magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, CoQ10, garlic, and fish oil. While there may be many more herbal remedies and supplements, most have little or no research associated, or may have a weak correlation to benefit. Here’s what to watch out for so you can give both your heart and your bank account a break.

Supplements with solid research supporting their use are below. For these, the research may be highly correlated, but there still may not be much research available to confirm them. Though taking supplements may not lower blood pressure for certain, every doctor and dietitian will stand by numerous strategies that are proven to help you reduce blood pressure, such as following a healthy diet, quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, exercising, and losing excess body fat. For supplements, take them at your own risk, and always consult with a doctor first. As long as they don’t interfere with your regular prescribed medications, and your doctor approves of their use, they may be consumed.

Supplements with Strong evidence to support their use

1 - Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that’s critical for many bodily functions, including blood pressure regulation. Studies show that magnesium supplements may help reduce blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide — a signaling molecule that helps relax blood vessels.

A review of 11 studies found that magnesium, taken at 365–450 mg per day over an average of 3.6 months, significantly reduced blood pressure in people with chronic medical conditions. Another review of 10 studies in over 200,000 people suggested that greater dietary intake of magnesium may protect against high blood pressure in the first place. Every 100-mg daily increase in dietary magnesium was linked to a 5% reduction in high blood pressure risk.

2 - Potassium

Potassium may be the best known nutritional supplement for blood pressure regulation. Studies suggest that increasing your intake through food or supplements helps reduce high blood pressure levels. Potassium works by encouraging your body to remove sodium through the urine, thereby helping blood vessels relax.

In a review of 23 studies, potassium supplements led to a modest but significant drop in blood pressure, compared with a placebo. Other reviews note that these supplements are safe and effective, though they appear most effective in people with high blood pressure who have less healthy, high sodium diets.

3 - Vitamin D

Research shows that people with high blood pressure tend to have lower levels of vitamin D than those without this condition. Studies also demonstrate that higher blood levels of vitamin D may help protect against high blood pressure. A review of data in over 300,00 people found that those with the highest vitamin D levels had up to a 30% reduced risk of high blood pressure, compared with those with the lowest levels.

Regardless of your blood pressure levels, get checked regularly for vitamin D levels. Supplementing with Vitamin D may be helpful not only in treating blood pressure, but preventing high blood pressure as well.

Supplements with Moderate supporting research and evidence

4 - CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

Coenzyme Q10 — commonly called CoQ10 — is a vitamin-like molecule that’s made by your body and found in certain foods. When taken as a supplement, it may help reduce blood pressure. A review of 17 studies found that CoQ10 supplements significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.

However, results from other studies are mixed. Thus, more research is needed.

5 - B Vitamins

Several B vitamins may help reduce blood pressure levels. For example, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) supplements have been shown to help reduce blood pressure in adults with a genetic risk, or family history.

Folic acid and folate supplements — vitamin B9 — may also lower blood pressure in people with heart disease. Additionally, higher folate intake in young adulthood may protect against this condition later in life, based on research here, and here.

Animal studies suggest that vitamin B6 supplements likewise reduce high blood pressure, human research is lacking. If you are planning to take a Vitamin B supplement (like B2, B9, or B-Complex), it is best to consult your doctor whether some other supplement in this list may be better. You may also consult a dietitian about how to safely incorporate foods with B vitamins into your diet.

6 - Garlic

Garlic is linked to a variety of benefits, including reduced blood pressure and heart disease risk. Adding a garlic supplement to your routine (or eating fresh garlic) may help lower your blood pressure naturally.

In fact, in a review of 12 studies, garlic supplements reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 8.3 mmHg and 5.5 mmHg, respectively. The researchers estimated that this reduction may help decrease your risk of stroke, heart attack, and coronary artery disease by up to 40%.

7 - Fish Oil

Fish oil may improve heart health by reducing blood lipid levels, inflammation, and high blood pressure. Studies show that those with high blood pressure may benefit from high-dose fish oil supplements.

In one review, taking the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, including fish oil supplements, showed 4.51 and 3.05 mmHg reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively, in people with high blood pressure who weren’t on medications.

What’s more, research notes higher blood levels of omega-3s may protect against getting high blood pressure. If you are following the American Heart Association’s DASH (diet to stop hypertension) eating plan, the diet naturally incorporates omega-3 rich fats 3 times per week. Talk to your Dietitian or Health Coach to ensure that you are following the DASH diet fully.

8 - Beet root

Athletes often take beetroot supplements to boost exercise performance because this root vegetable improves blood flow and oxygen delivery to your muscles. Beetroot supplements have been shown to reduce blood pressure in both people with and without high blood pressure in a couple research studies (1, 2).

A review of 11 studies revealed that 1/2 cup of beets or 4oz beetroot juice lowered blood pressure levels in people with and without this condition. Ironically, if you are shopping in bulk, it may end up costing the same amount to eat beets as to take a supplement.

9 - Ginger

Research suggests that high-dose ginger supplements may help lower high blood pressure.

A review of 6 studies found that, when 3 grams or more per day is taken, ginger supplements significantly reduced blood pressure in people under 50 years old. While another study has also shown lower triglycerides and fasting blood sugar, not enough evidence prevails to support widespread supplementation.

10 - L Arginine

L-arginine is an amino acid that may lower blood pressure levels when taken as a supplement.

An umbrella review of 7 meta-analyses in 4,676 people demonstrated that L-arginine supplements significantly reduced total blood pressure in people with high levels, as well as diastolic blood pressure in pregnant women with high levels. Furthermore, the review found that L-arginine supplements significantly improved blood vessel function and blood flow.

Supplements with Little or No evidence to support effectiveness

There are also several that may be anecdotal and have not been proven by science and research to lower blood pressure. Please take note of these. If they taste good to you, then it may be fine to try them. But if your goal is to lower blood pressure, then the supplements below may not help.

  1. Hibiscus flowers (flores de jamaica)
  2. Natto (Nattokinase)
  3. Hawthorne Berry Extract
  4. Gammaaminobutyric acid
  5. Grapeseed extract
  6. Green tea: Green tea is associated with a variety of impressive health benefits, including healthy blood pressure levels. Although these results are promising, larger, long-term studies are necessary.

Takeaways

While several supplements may lower blood pressure levels, it doesn’t mean that every supplement is safe. It’s important to know that many supplements may interact with common drugs, including blood pressure medications. While this may not be a full list of every supplement rumored to help your blood pressure, one thing is clear - the majority of these supplements are found naturally in foods. By eating a well-rounded diet that is rich in fruit and vegetable variety, you will likely reach the same or better effect as spending your money on supplements.

Always talk to your Dietitian about ways you can improve your diet to lower blood pressure naturally, without supplements, and consult your healthcare provider before adding any supplement to your routine. Your healthcare provider can help you determine a safe and effective dose based on your needs.