High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which the pressure of your blood against your blood vessel walls poses a risk to your health. Over time, high blood pressure can damage your blood vessels and put you at a greater risk for stroke or heart attack.
High blood pressure is a condition that often carries no symptoms and can go undetected for years. More than 1 in 5 adults worldwide lives with raised blood pressure.
High blood pressure is diagnosed using two numerical measurements: diastolic and systolic pressure. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure against your artery walls during a contraction of your heart (a heartbeat). A systolic blood pressure measurement of 120 or above is considered elevated. Above 130 is considered high.
Diastolic is the pressure on your arteries in between heartbeats. A diastolic blood pressure measurement above 80 is considered high.
Doctors use both your systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements to determine if you have high blood pressure, and if treatment may be necessary.
Many people are interested in using natural supplements to help improve their blood pressure, either along with blood pressure medication or to avoid taking these medications altogether. You should always check with your doctor before starting any supplement to treat high blood pressure. Supplements alone may not be enough to resolve high blood pressure.
Keep reading to find out what we know about supplements for high blood pressure.
Increased blood volume due to pregnancy can lead to high blood pressure. Folic acid is an important supplement for a baby’s development in the womb. Studies suggest folic acid may have the additional benefit of reducing the risk of hypertension during pregnancy.
Taking high doses of folic acid might also help to slightly reduce blood pressure in both men and women whose blood pressure is high, as shown in a 2009 meta-analysis.
The recommended dose of folic acid is in most prenatal vitamins, but it can be purchased as a standalone supplement and taken in capsule form, too.
Find folic acid supplements here.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to hypertension. Yet, a clinical review of 11 studies found that vitamin D supplements had a very minor effect on diastolic blood pressure, and no effect on systolic in people with high blood pressure. Although it’s important to get adequate vitamin D, its effects on high blood pressure may be minor.
You can purchase vitamin D capsules wherever supplements are sold. You can also increase the amount of vitamin D in your diet and spend time outside to absorb vitamin D through your skin. Buy vitamin D supplements here.
The mineral magnesium is used by your body to regulate healthy cell function. Magnesium also assists in muscle fiber contractions. Several studies are conflicting about whether magnesium helps reduce blood pressure. But one analysis showed that magnesium supplements may have a small effect on blood pressure.
Magnesium supplements are available in health food stores and online. Purchase one here.
Potassium helps counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The American Heart Association also points out that potassium helps decrease pressure on your artery walls. Studies support potassium supplements as a treatment to lower blood pressure.
You can find potassium supplements in health food stores and online. The typical dose is 99 milligrams (mg) per day. Purchase a potassium supplement online here.
Coenzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) is an antioxidant that helps your cells produce energy. In an analysis of clinical trials, CoQ10 brought down diastolic blood pressure by up to 10 mm HG and systolic blood pressure by 17 mm Hg.
CoQ10 is considered generally safe and can be purchased in capsule form. Find it here.
Dietary fiber levels in the typical Western diet tend to be far lower than is recommended. Increasing your fiber intake could prevent hypertension or lower blood pressure if you have it already. A fiber supplement of 11 grams per day was found to reduce blood pressure by a small amount in an analysis of clinical trials.
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is used by your body to make energy. It’s produced in your body but also can be purchased as a supplement. ALCAR is a promising supplement in controlling blood pressure. It’s safe, cheap, and well-tolerated by most people. Although not much research has been done supporting its use for high blood pressure, one small study suggested that it may help reduce systolic blood pressure.
You can find L-carnitine supplements for purchase here.
Garlic has been used as a diuretic and circulation treatment since the time of ancient Greece. Garlic may improve the way your body circulates blood through your system. So it makes sense that, when studied, garlic significantly lowered both diastolic and systolic blood pressure in randomized clinical trials.
Garlic supplements and raw garlic can both be used to help with high blood pressure. Find the supplements here.
Melatonin is a hormone that your body naturally produces. It’s most commonly associated with helping you sleep. People with hypertension sometimes don’t produce enough melatonin. Taking melatonin supplements, researchers found, could help reduce blood pressure.
You can try taking 2 mg of melatonin as a safe, non-habit forming way of reducing blood pressure in the evenings. Taking it in the daytime isn’t advised, as it will make you drowsy. Melatonin is available in capsule and liquid form. Buy it here.
Omega-3s through fish oil or flaxseed supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids help your body improve cardiovascular tone. This makes omega-3s a promising ingredient for lowering blood pressure. One review of literature about omega-3s and blood pressure concluded that omega-3 supplements lowered blood pressure “slightly, but significantly.”
Omega-3s are found in fish oil supplements as well as flaxseed supplements (capsule and liquid). Check out this ultimate beginner’s guide to omega-3 fatty acids if this is a new supplement for you.
Anthocyanins are red, purple, or blue pigments found in certain fruits and vegetables. Cherries, pomegranates, blueberries, and other antioxidant-rich fruits contain anthocyanins. This ingredient may be why pomegranate juice worked in one 2004 study to bring down systolic blood pressure by 12 percent over the course of a year. But in another study, anthocyanins seemed to have no effect on blood pressure.
Many supplements, such as elderberry or acai extract, contain anthocyanins — although they all haven’t been specifically shown to have an effect on blood pressure. If you’re interested in finding out, check your local health food store or purchase elderberry supplements here.
French maritime bark extract
French maritime bark extract is a dietary supplement that uses the antioxidant power of flavonoids. Pycnogenol, which is derived from French maritime bark, may improve circulation and help lower blood pressure. Participants in a small study took 125 mg of pycnogenol daily for 12 weeks and had significant benefit.
You can buy French maritime bark extract and other pycnogenol supplements here.
Natural supplements are a promising way to treat high blood pressure. But some supplements will interact with blood pressure medications, such as ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers. If you’re already on blood pressure medications, speak with your doctor about possible interactions and toxicity warnings before you try a supplement.
It’s important to remember that most supplements have only been shown to modestly reduce blood pressure levels. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, a supplement might help — but it may not lower blood pressure enough on its own.
Important note: Some blood pressure medications have also been shown to reduce heart attacks, strokes, and death related to heart disease. Although many supplements may help slightly lower blood pressure, they haven’t been proven to lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people with high blood pressure. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for your specific needs.
When purchasing supplements, remember that they aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the same way prescription medications are. Only purchase supplements from suppliers that you trust.
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