How Much Do You Love Your Heart?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Nutrients and Additives, Blood Pressure
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Today, as part of my Heart Health Awareness Campaign in celebration of American Heart Month, I want to you pause long enough to join this discussion of the importance of loving yourself—your cardiovascular system in particular.

And, because it’s estimated that about 60 million Americans have high blood pressure levels, I want to center our conversation around this serious disorder and how you can manage it to better ensure your overall cardiovascular health.   

Do You have High Blood Pressure?

If you’ve already been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’ve undoubtedly been advised to evaluate your lifestyle and start exercising. You may have been told to consider psychotherapy to explore unexpressed or unrecognized emotions like anger, fear, and anxiety.

You've also likely been advised to adhere to a healthy cardiovascualr nutrition plan, one with an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits.

I have written and will continue to write about these topics (I even wrote a book about it, Lower Your Blood Pressure in 8 Weeks) because they’re essential to lowering blood pressure naturally, as well as healing from almost any other illness.   

Today, however, I’m going to focus on the four nutraceuticals that have worked to naturally lower blood pressure for my patients and how you can take them, too, for best results.

  1. Magnesium. Most of us are deficient in this important mineral, which is essential for regulating blood pressure and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Even if you eat whole-food sources of magnesium (tofu, navy beans, lima beans, and figs are the richest) you may not get enough of this nutrient. I recommend 400 mg for healthy folks and up to 800 mg daily for blood pressure lowering (as long as you have good kidney function).
  2. Calcium. Magnesium works synergistically with calcium, but you must be careful about the amount of calcium you take.  More than 2,000 mg per day can cause your kidneys to excrete magnesium. Although I strongly encourage eating calcium-rich foods, such as green, leafy vegetables, tofu, low-fat cheeses, and skim or 1% milk, you should still take a calcium supplement to be sure you get the right ratio and balance of each mineral. 

    I like calcium in softgel form because of its rapid disintegration time (six minutes or less) and better bioavailability. In people with poor digestion, solid calcium tablets may pass intact through the digestive tract and out of the body. Choose a calcium formula that contains mixed compounds such as citrate, carbonate, aspartate, and gluconate, in combination with a similar magnesium complex. For men, I recommend taking up to 750 mg daily of calcium in conjunction with the above recommended dose of 400 mg daily of magnesium. Postmenopausal women are often advised to take 1,500 mg of calcium, but most of you will be able to make up the difference in your diet, so don’t go over 1,000 mg daily with a supplement.
  3. Potassium. You’ll need to get potassium from fresh foods. By regulation, supplements can only contain 99 mg potassium, roughly equivalent to one bite of a banana—definitely not enough. I recommend a banana, orange, or handful of prunes or raisins each day if you’re trying to lower blood pressure.
  4. Zinc. You’ll also need 15–30 mg of zinc in supplemental form. Most good multinutrients contain these levels.
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