High blood pressure is a common health problem affecting nearly half of all adults in the United States.
Healthcare providers are constantly looking for new ways to help their patients manage high blood pressure. One way is by recommending a range of supplements found to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure.
In this article, we’ll be discussing high blood pressure and the different blood pressure supplements that may help manage it.
What is Blood Pressure?
Your blood pressure depends on both the amount of blood your heart pumps and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries.
Generally, speaking, the narrower the space in your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers: systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats, and diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests in between beats.
Blood pressure is written as systolic over diastolic. For example, if a person has a systolic BP of 110mmHg and a diastolic BP of 70mmHg, their blood pressure is written as 110/70mmHg.
A blood pressure measurement around 120/80mmHg is considered healthy blood pressure, but blood pressures that are much higher or lower than normal can create health problems, so it’s important to check your blood pressure when directed to do so by your doctor.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a condition where blood pressure is consistently higher than usual.
A persistent blood pressure reading of 130/80mmHg or higher after repeated measurements is an indicator of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure on its own often goes undiagnosed, making it necessary to check your blood pressure often.
Hypertensive patients are at greater risk of developing other heart disease, including stroke and heart failure.
If you have hypertension, your doctor or healthcare provider may prescribe some medication or ask you to make some lifestyle changes, depending on the severity of your blood pressure.
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low blood pressure, also called hypotension, is a condition where blood flows through the arteries with unusually low force.
A blood pressure reading less than 90/60mmHg is considered to be low blood pressure.
Symptoms of low blood pressure include:
- Blurred vision
Supplements to Help Lower or Manage Blood Pressure
Managing blood pressure is crucial for patients with high blood pressure.
While medication is often needed in order to accomplish this, there are also some supplements that can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Below are some of the top blood pressure supplements you can take to improve your blood pressure.
But remember, always follow your healthcare provider’s advice before taking any new supplements, and never take supplements instead of medication that has been prescribed to you.
Magnesium is a necessary mineral for normal body function. It can help regulate blood pressure by allowing the blood vessels to relax.
It does this by releasing nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator. In one study, taking 368 mg of magnesium supplements daily for three months reduced systolic blood pressure by 2.00mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.78mmHg.
Magnesium supplements may be beneficial, but be careful not to take too much—they may cause diarrhea due to their laxative effect.
Potassium lowers blood pressure by reducing the amount of sodium in your body through urine.
It also reduces blood pressure by relaxing the walls of the blood vessels.
Several studies have linked low potassium intake to higher blood pressure and increased chances of stroke.
Excessive potassium intake can cause irregular heartbeats and problems for people with kidney diseases.
Hypertensive patients can lower their systolic blood pressure by eating potassium-rich foods or taking potassium supplements.
Some potassium-rich foods include:
- Beet greens
- Sweet potatoes
As always, speak to your healthcare provider before using potassium supplements.
Folic acid is a B vitamin routinely given to pregnant women.
It prevents birth defects that can affect a baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Some studies also show that folic acid may lower blood pressure, especially in pregnant women.
Gestational hypertension can cause premature birth, preeclampsia, and low birth weight.
The CDC recommends that women take 400mg of folic acid every day to prevent this serious complication.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is found in the body and in many foods.
It helps the body convert food into energy and protects it from damage from toxic free radicals.
A group of researchers analyzed 12 clinical studies and reported that CoQ10 has the potential to reduce systolic blood pressure by 17mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 10mmHg without any serious side effects.
In another study, CoQ10 did not cause any significant changes to blood pressure, so whether or not it’s effective is not proven.
Besides taking it as a supplement, coenzyme Q10 can be found in foods like chicken, asparagus, sardines, and organ meats like kidneys and liver.
Melatonin is a hormone released by the body that controls the sleep-wake cycle.
It is mainly used as a supplement to treat short-term insomnia.
It enhances the production of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator.
A study showed that repeated intake of melatonin improves sleep and blood pressure.
In patients with hypertension, repeated intake of melatonin at night significantly reduced blood pressure.
Further studies are required to create more conclusive results.
Vitamins are nutrients that your body needs to maintain normal functioning.
Some vitamins, such as vitamin C, and B vitamins like B2, B6, and B9, may be beneficial for lowering blood pressure.
Research has shown that vitamin C supplements may have some effects in reducing blood pressure.
B vitamins like folate and folic acid may also have some effect on reducing blood pressure.
Fish oil supplements are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that intake of omega-3 has significant effects on blood pressure.
In one study, there was a considerable reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 4.51mmHg and 3.05mmHg respectively, in participants who consumed fish oil.
There is no evidence for omega-3 acids reducing blood pressure in healthy individuals, but fish oil may be effective in hypertensive patients.
Dietary fiber is important for a complete healthy diet, and may also improve high blood pressure.
In one study, dietary fiber supplements reduced systolic blood pressure by 1.13mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.26mmHg.
Dietary fiber had more effect in lowering blood pressure in older hypertensive patients than in younger healthy ones.
Increasing your intake of dietary fiber may help with managing your blood pressure.
Sources of dietary fiber include fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Take fresh fruit in place of fruit juice.
Alternatives to Supplements
Supplements are not the only way to manage blood pressure.
There are other ways to manage blood pressure and your doctor may recommend any of these alternatives.
Here are some commonly prescribed first-line blood pressure medications:
- Diuretics (water pills): These pills lower blood pressure by removing excess sodium and water from your body through more frequent urination. Diuretics are commonly taken together other high blood pressure medications. Examples of diuretics include hydrochlorothiazide (Esidrix) and furosemide (Lasix).
- Calcium channel blockers: Calcium ions cause narrowing of blood vessels. Calcium channel blockers stop calcium from entering the muscles of your heart and your blood vessels, keeping the vessels relaxed and your blood pressure low. Examples are amlodipine (Norvasc), nifedipine (Procardia), and diltiazem (Cardizem CD).
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE inhibitors): The body uses the angiotensin II hormone to regulate blood pressure. When ACE inhibitors block this hormone, blood vessels are more relaxed, leading to a reduction in blood pressure. Examples are lisinopril (Zestril), captopril (Capoten), and enalapril (Kadril).
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): ARBs block the angiotensin II hormone from binding with receptors in the blood vessels. This helps reduce vasoconstriction, lowering blood pressure. Examples are valsartan (Diovan) and losartan (Cozaar).
Eating foods with a high salt (sodium) content can contribute to high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, processed foods and packaged snacks are often packed with salt.
If you have high blood pressure, you’ll need to reduce your consumption of processed foods.
Make your own meals and watch the amount of salt you put in them.
Try not to take more than 1,500mg of sodium a day.
Switching to a potassium-rich diet can also help to lower blood pressure.
Potassium lowers blood pressure by removing sodium in your body through urine. It also relaxes your blood vessels.
Some potassium-rich foods that you can add to your diet include berries, leafy greens, bananas, red beets, fatty fish, and pistachios.
Probiotics are a combination of good bacteria and yeast that live in your body.
One study showed that probiotic consumption reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.56 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by 2.38 mmHg.
The same study found that taking multiple probiotics contributed to a greater reduction in blood pressure than taking a single probiotic.
Probiotics have a greater effect on high blood pressure when they are taken for a period of two months or more.
When to See a Doctor
You should talk to a doctor or healthcare provider before taking any of the above-listed supplements to understand the potential benefits and side effects.
Your doctor can guide you on the best way to take these supplements, along with any other medications or dietary changes that may help lower your blood pressure further.
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Folic acid supplement use and the risk of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia (2018)
Whole blood omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are inversely associated with blood pressure in young, healthy adults (2018)
Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Blood Pressure. A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trials (2016)
Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials (2014)
Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2012)
Coenzyme Q10 in the treatment of hypertension: a meta-analysis of the clinical trials (2007)
Dietary fiber and blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials (2005)
Daily Nighttime Melatonin Reduces Blood Pressure in Male Patients With Essential Hypertension (2004)
Does fish oil lower blood pressure? A meta-analysis of controlled trials (1993)