Lower Your Blood Pressure Week 3: Supplement Your Progress

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

Recently I’ve been sharing some natural ways to lower blood pressure. It’s all part of my four-week challenge to tackle this problem—which affects up to one in three Americans according to CDC estimates.

If you’re just joining us, let me bring you up to speed. For each of the past two weeks, I’ve asked you to make changes in a part of your life that has been linked to healthy blood pressure. In Week 1, we focused on the impact that food choices can have. In Week 2, I asked you to work up a sweat by adopting a regular exercise routine—an excellent way to not only control high blood pressure, but minimize other heart risk factors as well.

This week I want to talk about nutritional supplements. There are a number of them out there that can be of help, and I’ve seen them work wonders in patients. As you review the options I’ve provided, please be mindful of the fact that you don’t have to take all of them to realize benefits. In fact, I would probably suggest that you start by taking one or two at a time until you find the combination that works best for you.

Keep in mind, too, that supplements won’t necessarily have an immediate effect like a drug can. It may take a while for enough of each nutrient to have maximum effect—so be sure to stick with them for more than just a few days. Many large clinical trials have confirmed the safety and efficacy of this approach.

Here are my recommendations:

CoQ10. This nutrient is a gem when it comes to cardiovascular problems and managing heart risk factors. You probably know it as an essential ingredient for cellular energy production, but it’s also a potent antioxidant. This ability to limit oxidative stress reduces inflammation and enhances blood flow. CoQ10 is one of the supplements that takes a little while to work—about four weeks—but studies have shown that people who stick with it can lower blood pressure by up to 15 systolic points and 10 diastolic points. Take 100–225 mg daily in divided doses.

Magnesium. This mineral is another one of my favorite blood pressure remedies. Magnesium has a direct impact on the ability of arteries to expand and contract, and deficiencies can cause arteries to spasm and constrict—potentially blocking blood flow altogether. To control high blood pressure, take 500–1,000 mg of magnesium daily.

Nattokinase. This supplement helps prevent abnormal thickening of the blood, which is an often overlooked cause of high blood pressure. I’ve seen nattokinase lower blood pressure by 10–20 systolic points and 5–10 diastolic points. Start with 50 mg a day and increase the dose to 100 mg after a week. (Note: If you’re taking any kind of blood thinning drug, such as Coumadin, you should not use nattokinase. The combination could cause your blood to become too thin.)

Fish oil. The omega-3 fats in fish oil have also been shown to also reduce blood viscosity. Take 2–3 grams daily.

B-complex vitamins. Supplementing with these nutrients is helpful on two fronts. First, it helps replace the B vitamins lost in your urine if you’re taking a diuretic to control your blood pressure (all B vitamins are water soluble). Second, specific members of the B-complex family, such as vitamin B6, have antihypertensive effects. Folic acid is also helpful, particularly for women. You should always take B vitamins as a complex, either in a stand-alone product or as part of a high-quality multivitamin. Just be sure that your formula includes at least 100 mg of B6 and 800 mcg of folic acid.

Vitamin C. Not only is vitamin C essential for building and maintaining healthy blood vessels, it’s also a potent supporter of the body’s antioxidant system. It’s especially important for increasing levels of glutathione, a free-radical scavenger. Both of these effects support healthy blood pressure. Take 1,000 mg daily.

L-arginine. This amino acid is the main ingredient that your blood vessels need to make nitric acid, a substance that helps keep them properly dilated. Eating foods or taking supplements that provide 4–10 grams daily has helped lower blood pressure by 6 systolic points and up to 7 diastolic points. Foods rich in L-arginine include peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, soy, coconut, diary, meat, and seafood.

Quercetin. Like nattokinase, quercetin—which is found naturally in onions—helps break down blood clots and keep blood flowing. In one study, people with high blood pressure who took 730 mg of quercetin daily for a month experienced a drop of 7 systolic points and 5 diastolic points.

Again, good luck. Be sure to check back next week for my final instructions, which will focus on how to solve a constant problem these days—stress. In the meantime, let me know how things are working for you!

For more information on lowering your blood pressure, visit www.drsinatra.com

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