Originally published June 24 2008
A Natural Approach to Treating Hypertension
by Jeremiah Smith, PharmD
(NaturalNews) There are many nutrients available to individuals with hypertension who wish to take a more natural approach for addressing their condition. Clearly, improving diet and increasing physical activity are key to achieving normal blood pressure, along with a host of other positive benefits. Still, there are specific supplements that can assist in lowering blood pressure.
One very important mineral for regulating blood pressure is magnesium. Unfortunately, magnesium also represents one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in those who follow the Standard American Diet. There appears to be an inverse relationship between blood pressure and blood levels of magnesium. Furthermore, the Honolulu Heart Study showed that magnesium intake had the strongest association with blood pressure out of 60 other variables that were evaluated.
Various other studies indicate that magnesium supplementation reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Around 600 mg per day seems to be the typical dosage for those supplementing with magnesium. When taking magnesium, you should be aware that large single doses may cause diarrhea. Therefore, it might be best to take 200-300 mg, two to three times per day.
Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, has numerous beneficial properties, so it is no surprise to see it on a list for hypertension. The amazing thing about ascorbic acid is that it has some role to play in nearly every biochemical reaction within our bodies. Understanding this gives an appreciation for the profound health effects that it is capable of producing. In the case of hypertension, vitamin C is thought to exert its effects by enhancing nitric oxide (NO) production. NO is required for dilation of blood vessels, and this dilation reduces blood pressure. Like magnesium, vitamin C blood levels have an inverse relationship with blood pressure. The goal, of course, is to get those vitamin C levels up in order to bring blood pressure down. A complete discussion on dosing vitamin C would require an entire article in and of itself. For more information please see the references below.
An additional nutritional supplement that has shown effectiveness against hypertension is coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). The general dosage for CoQ10 is around 100-200 mg per day. Note that CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance and should be taken with food containing some fats or oils for maximum absorption.
The subject of oils brings us to the next superstar for bringing down high blood pressure. Fish oils, specifically the omega-3's (EPA and DHA), have proven antihypertensive benefits. In fact, the benefits of these substances are so well-established that Big Pharma decided to make a version of their own. It is marketed toward reducing high triglyceride levels. You can check it out for yourself here: (http://www.lovaza.com/) .
It appears that the omega-3 fats are capable of improving the elasticity of arteries, thus allowing the arteries to "absorb more shock" from the force of blood pumping through them. This results in decreased vascular resistance, which leads to reduced blood pressure. The amount of EPA or DHA taken daily can range from 3g to 15g.
Finally, garlic deserves a mention among nutritional agents that can be used to address high blood pressure. The overall effect of garlic on blood pressure may not be as pronounced as that of the previously discussed nutrients. However, it has demonstrated effectiveness in lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The studies utilized doses ranging from 600-900 mg of garlic extract daily.
In conclusion, those individuals who are currently taking antihypertensive drugs should be aware that these nutrients have the potential to significantly lower blood pressure without the need of pharmaceuticals. For this reason, it may become necessary to reduce the drug dosage, or to discontinue the medication entirely. It is advisable to consult your physician regarding supplementation and any changes in therapy.
To your health!
Pelton, Ross. "Nutrients to Reduce Hypertension." Pharmacy Times, January 2005.
DoctorYourself.com, "High Blood Pressure"
Linus Pauling Institute, "Vitamin C"
About the authorJeremiah Smith is a licensed and practicing pharmacist with a strong interest in nutrition and natural medicine. He is driven by a thirst for knowledge and a passion for helping others achieve optimal health. Smith writes articles on a range of topics related to wellness. You can visit his website at (http://www.anewvision.info/)
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