As well as lifestyle changes such as eating a Mediterranean diet, stopping smoking and taking regular exercise, there is evidence that a range of supplements can help manage blood pressure. Jane Collins investigates.
🕒 4 min read
Why blood pressure matters
In Ireland, up to half of men and a third of women have high blood pressure, known medically as hypertension.
What's more, many are living with undiagnosed high blood pressure (hypertension), as the condition tends to present with few, if any, symptoms.
Getting your blood pressure under control is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke – so it's crucial to monitor yours; this can be done by your GP, practice nurse, local pharmacist or at home.
Supplements for blood pressure
Diet and exercise are vital, but supplements also have a role to play. Here are eight of the best.
Omega 3 fish oils
Omega 3 fatty acids are found naturally in oily fish like salmon and mackerel, nuts and seeds and avocados.
Research suggests that those with high blood pressure could benefit from a high-dose fish oil supplement and researchers have suggested that the optimal amount to consume to lower blood pressure is 3g daily.
One review showed that taking omega 3 fats in fish oil supplements led to a 4.51mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number in your blood pressure reading) and 3.05mmHG in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) in those who had diagnosed hypertension but were not on associated medication.
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An increasing body of research shows garlic to have cardiovascular benefits, including helping to lower blood pressure. Taking garlic in a concentrated supplement form has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by around 7-9 mmHg and diastolic by around 4-6 mmHg in people with hypertension.
Black garlic is aged and fermented white garlic, and it may be even more beneficial than the raw white variety. A meta-analysis of studies has shown how supplementing with black garlic can have a significant impact on high blood pressure in those with hypertension and stiffness in the arteries.
A 2022 study published in the journal Nutrients found that taking 250mg of black garlic daily for six weeks led to a noticeable reduction in diastolic blood pressure – and this result was particularly pronounced in men.
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Magnesium's muscle-relaxing effects are well documented, and there is also research to show that magnesium supplements could lower high blood pressure by increasing production of nitric oxide, which helps to relax the blood vessels.
A review of 11 randomised studies found that taking between 365-450mg of magnesium each day for around three and a half months significantly reduced blood pressure in people with chronic medical conditions.
Another meta-analysis of 10 studies involving over 200,000 people suggests that including more sources of magnesium in your diet can also help protect you from getting high blood pressure.
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Research shows that people with high blood pressure tend to have lower levels of vitamin D. A review involving almost 300,000 people found that those with the highest vitamin D levels had up to a 30 per cent reduced risk of hypertension compared to those with the lowest.
More research is needed to determine whether vitamin D supplementation can be useful in the prevention, or treatment of, high blood pressure.
This is a nutrient found naturally in foods like sardines, offal, sesame seeds, broccoli and peanuts, and it's known to help with circulatory health. It's produced naturally in the body, but levels are known to decrease with age and many older people appear to be deficient.
Coenzyme Q10, as well as the more absorbable form ubiquinol, has been shown to enhance blood flow and help to lower blood pressure. A review has shown that taking CoQ10 supplements significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, although not diastolic – leading researchers to call for more studies.
This antioxidant-rich French pine bark has been shown to improve heart function, including improving blood circulation and lowering high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Taking pycnogenol with Coenzyme Q10 can bring further heart health benefits. In a 12-week study involving patients with moderate to high blood pressure and stable congestive heart failure, one group was given a daily combination of 15mg of pycnogenol and 50mg of Coenzyme Q10, while another received a placebo.
At the end of the study there was a significant decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure and a lowering of heart rate in the supplement group compared to placebo.
There is evidence to suggest that taking high-dose ginger supplements may help to lower blood pressure. In a review of six studies, those given 3g or more ginger each day for around eight weeks were found to have seen 'favourable effects' on their blood pressure.
We all know that high blood pressure is bad, but have you ever wondered what that actually means? Find out all about blood pressure, how it's measured, what your numbers mean, and more.