Learn which vitamins and minerals can support a natural blood pressure–lowering program
A diagnosis of high blood pressure doesn't have to mean years of prescription medications. Targeted nutrients, along with blood pressure–lowering diet changes and lifestyle modifications, can bring your numbers down to a healthy level.
Nutritional support can be used on its own; however, you'll get the best results if you also make diet and lifestyle changes. Here are my top nutrients for lowering blood pressure:
I don't know of a single nutrient that will help everyone lower their blood pressure, but from my clinical experience, garlic probably helps the widest range of people. For overall health, I recommend at least a clove of garlic each day, raw or cooked. If you have heart problems or are recovering from a stroke, you should take garlic in supplement form as well.
Be careful when buying garlic supplements. Many are 99 percent vegetable oil with just a touch of garlic. I have had the best results using SGP odorless, tasteless, powdered garlic capsules. Kyolic is one of the best brands on the market, and it’s available in most health food stores. I recommend one capsule, six times a day (one with each meal, assuming you are eating three nutritious meals per day, plus one capsule mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and in the evening). As your blood pressure starts to normalize, the dosage can be reduced gradually to one to three capsules a day.
This mineral helps balance the amount of salt in the body so the heart and blood pressure remain normal. Conditions that deplete potassium include excessive salt, prolonged diarrhea or vomiting, and the use of diuretics or cortisone-like medications, alcohol, coffee, and sugar. People with digestive diseases may also have low potassium levels. Supplemental potassium is not considered toxic, even in high dosages, except in certain individuals with kidney problems that prevent excretion of the excess.
Excellent results can be obtained using 500 to 1,000 mg of potassium daily for eight weeks. (In one study, blood pressure dropped 10 points in more than 40 percent of the participants.)
For basic health protection, 100 mg as part of a good multivitamin/mineral supplement is sufficient, along with a healthy serving of potassium-rich foods each day. The two best sources of potassium are bananas and citrus fruits. Other good sources of potassium include:
- Green vegetables
- Mint leaves
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
Deficiencies of CoQ10 have appeared in most patients with high blood pressure. Studies at the University of Texas and in Osaka, Japan, showed that daily doses of 45 to 60 mg of CoQ10 often lowered blood pressure levels as much as 12 to 25 points. Researchers concluded that CoQ10 was often the only thing needed to return blood pressure to normal in patients with mild or even moderate hypertension.
If you take CoQ10, look for the softgel form. The dry form of CoQ10 (or any nutrient, for that matter) can only be absorbed by water-based cells. When the CoQ10 is suspended in oil, it can be absorbed by both water- and fat-based cells. From a dosage standpoint, this increased absorption means that a lower dosage of the softgel form is equivalent to a higher dosage of the dry form. It also means you get more nutrient for your money, which is always a good thing.
This mineral has a strong link to high blood pressure, especially in older men. In fact, out of the 615 men studied in one trial, those consuming more of this mineral in their diet had consistently lower blood pressure.
Researchers now feel that 500 mg a day of magnesium may be needed just to replace what the body loses through perspiration, stress, excess alcohol, diuretics, sugar, and normal body functions. Good natural sources of magnesium include:
- Fresh green vegetables
- Raw wheat germ
- Nuts and seeds rich in oil
Because the "average" diet provides barely enough of this precious mineral, you may need a magnesium supplement, especially if you have high blood pressure. I recommend 500 mg per day.
Vitamin E and Iron
These two nutrients help lower high blood pressure in a roundabout way. Iron helps increase the oxygen-carrying ability of blood, and vitamin E helps the heart muscle use oxygen more efficiently—both of which lower the level of effort required from the heart.
Initially high dosages of vitamin E may temporarily raise blood pressure. Authorities recommend the d-alpha tocopherol acetate form of vitamin E in dosages ranging from 200 to 1,600 IU a day. People with heart or circulation problems should start with smaller dosages. I recommend 50 to 100 IU daily, gradually working up to the higher dosages over several weeks. Vitamin E should be taken either during or right after meals.
As with my other recommendations for lowering blood pressure, work with your doctor to monitor your pressure closely if you’re taking a prescription blood pressure medication. As the natural approach takes hold, you may need to adjust (or even eliminate) your dosage.