High blood pressure is a common issue. A person can reduce their blood pressure by following a healthful diet, exercising, and avoiding smoking. Can taking dietary supplements, including vitamins, minerals, or herbs, also help?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), nearly half of all adults in the United States have high blood pressure, also called hypertension.
Having hypertension increases a person’s risk of heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes. Leading a healthful lifestyle can reduce blood pressure. This includesTrusted Source eating a healthful, low-salt diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and limiting the intake of alcohol. For some people, doctors also recommend medication that lowers blood pressure.
According to some sources, natural treatments and dietary supplements can help reduce hypertension. Do these supplements work, and are they safe?
In this article, we investigate the research into supplements for lowering blood pressure, exploring their effectiveness, risks, and alternatives.
Do supplements work?
Some evidence suggests that certain supplements could help lower blood pressure. However, most of the relevant studies have been of low quality or included small sample sizes. Doctors do not routinely recommend supplements for hypertension. According to the AHA, “There are no special pills, vitamins, or drinks that can substitute for prescription medications and lifestyle modifications.”
The AHA recommend talking to a doctor before taking any supplement to lower blood pressure because supplements may not work as advertised, and some can raise blood pressure. The following sections look at the evidence behind some common supplements that people take to reduce high blood pressure.
Potassium is a mineral that plays a key role in regulating blood pressure. When too much salt, or sodium, in food increases a person’s blood pressure, potassium clears the sodium from the body. Sodium causes high blood pressure because it stops the kidneys from removing water from the body efficiently. Carrying excess water leads to a hike in blood pressure. Potassium helps reduce blood pressure in two ways:
by causing the body to get rid of more sodium in the urine
by relaxing the walls of blood vessels
Authors of a 2017 review of studies report that potassium supplements could help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The effect was strongest in people who had high-sodium diets, people who had a low intake of potassium before the study, and people who were not taking blood pressure medication. However, potassium supplements can be harmful for people with kidney disorders. As with any supplement, it is a good idea to consult a doctor before trying a potassium supplement.
The AHA do recommend eating high-potassium foods to help manage blood pressure. These include:
prunes or prune juice
fat-free or low-fat yogurt or milk
Magnesium is another mineral that plays an important role in regulating blood pressure. It supports many processes in the body, including muscle and nerve function, the immune system, and protein synthesis.
Authors of a 2016 review conclude, after having analyzed the results of 34 trials, that magnesium supplements can reduce blood pressure. They say that taking 300 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day for 1 month may increase magnesium levels enough to lower high blood pressure.
The recommended dietary allowance of magnesium for adults is 310–420 mgTrusted Source. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS)Trusted Source, a diet rich in magnesium may also reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Foods rich in magnesium include:
fat-free or low-fat yogurt
Dietary fiber is important for keeping the heart and gut healthy. Eating enough dietary fiber can help lower:
the risk of cardiovascular disease