High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the pressure of blood pumping against the artery walls is higher than it should be. It is defined as having a systolic (upper number) blood pressure reading greater than 130 mmHg or higher, and/or a diastolic (lower number) blood pressure reading of 80 mmHg or higher. It is the single biggest risk factor for heart disease.
Certain supplements can raise blood pressure either by directly affecting the cardiovascular system or by interfering with blood pressure medications.
This article will examine whether vitamins and supplements raise blood pressure, and supplements to avoid if you have high blood pressure or are on medications to lower blood pressure or thin the blood.
Do vitamins trigger high blood pressure?
Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, and herbs that add to or “supplement” the nutrients you get from food. They are readily available in stores and online, and often are marketed as helping to improve or prevent certain health conditions. However, unlike prescription and over-the-counter
medications, supplements do not have to be approved by the FDA to ensure they are effective and safe, or undergo clinical research to back up their claims.
Some vitamins and supplements, such as coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and melatonin, have been found to have antihypertensive effects, meaning they can help lower blood pressure. However certain supplements have been found to raise blood pressure or interact with blood pressure, blood-thinning, and other medications. It’s important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking any
vitamin or supplement.
Never take vitamins or other supplements without talking to a healthcare provider first. Before taking supplements, ask your healthcare provider:
- Should I take supplements?
- Will they help me or be unsafe for me?
- Will they interfere with the medicines I take?
- What are the potential side effects?
- If I do take a supplement how much should I take and how often?
9 vitamins and supplements people with high blood pressure should avoid
There are certain supplements like arnica, bitter orange, liquorice root, and more to avoid when you have high blood pressure.
Arnica comes from a perennial flower and is most often used in topical creams and ointments to assist in the healing of bruises, sprains, swelling, and inflammation. Arnica is considered safe when used on the skin but should not be taken by mouth in pill or other forms. When taken internally arnica can cause heart issues, dizziness, and other medical problems, and can be fatal in large doses,
Asian (Panax) Ginseng
Asian ginseng, also known as Panax ginseng, has been promoted for a variety of uses including to increase well-being, reduce stress, and improve concentration and memory. Ginseng has been found to elevate blood pressure, although this typically occurs in those with low blood pressure. In those with low blood pressure, taking ginseng can restore blood pressure to normal, but in those with high blood pressure, it may be dangerous.
It’s not certain whether ginseng interacts with certain medications including blood thinners, calcium channel blockers and other medications for the health issue. Anyone taking these medications should consult with a healthcare provider before using ginseng.
Bitter orange is a supplement that comes from extract of the fruit or peel of bitter orange. It’s often used in weight-loss supplements and sports performance products. While there have been cases reported of heart attack, angina, and stroke after consuming products that contained bitter orange, it’s not known for certain if bitter orange or other ingredients played a role. Studies on whether bitter orange increases blood pressure or heart rate have produced conflicting results.
Guarana contains caffeine and is an herb commonly used in energy drinks. Many energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine, and adding guarana increases caffeine amounts. Excessive caffeine can cause increases in blood pressure and heart rate, and heart rhythm disturbances.
Liquorice root is a supplement most commonly used for digestive issues such as heartburn, along with coughs, and viral and bacterial infections. Licorice root can have serious side effects including increasing blood pressure, especially when it’s consumed in large amounts or over long periods
Liquorice also decreases potassium, which plays a role in blood pressure. Liquorice should not be taken by anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is a herb that’s used for a variety of conditions including depression, menopausal symptoms, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). St. John’s wort can cause serious interactions with many common drugs including blood thinners.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects the body’s cells from damage. High doses of vitamin E might increase the risk of bleeding after an injury or bleeding in the brain because it reduces the body’s ability to form blood clots. Vitamin E can also increase the bleeding risk for those on
blood-thinning medications. It is recommended that adults take no more than 1,000 mg per day of natural or synthetic vitamin E supplements.
Vitamin D toxicity, or hypervitaminosis D, is a serious medical condition that typically occurs when very high doses of the vitamin are taken over long periods of time without medical supervision. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and other minerals, but too much can cause hypercalcemia, or abnormally high calcium buildup in the blood. Symptoms of vitamin D toxicity can include high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias, along with gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney failure, and changes in mental state.
Vitamin K helps the blood clot and keeps bones healthy. Vitamin K can interfere with how blood-thinning medications work, which can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes. Those taking blood thinners need to keep their intake of vitamin K at consistent levels. Any sudden changes in vitamin K levels can interfere with the medications’ effectiveness.
Yohimbe comes from the bark of African evergreen trees. It’s most commonly touted for helping erectile dysfunction and increasing sexual arousal. Yohimbe has been associated with serious side effects including high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and heart attacks. Its use has been restricted in many countries.
Despite their popularity, not much research has been done on the effects multivitamins have on high blood pressure. A recent study found that taking multivitamins does not increase the short- or long-term risk of developing hypertension and that taking a multivitamin does not reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure for the average person. Older studies have suggested multivitamins may help reduce hypertension in those at risk for heart disease, but there has been little follow-up research.
Unlike prescription or over-the-counter medications, the FDA does not oversee the sale of vitamins or other supplements. Some common vitamins and supplements can raise blood pressure or alter how blood pressure or other medications work. You should always seek the advice of a healthcare provider when considering taking any supplement, especially if you are taking medication to control blood pressure or blood-thinning medicines.
A word of wellness
Don’t just believe the hype. Always ask a healthcare professional if a supplement will benefit you, or comes with side effects or drug interactions that could potentially be harmful.
This story first appeared on www.verywellhealth.com.
(Credit for the hero and featured image: Anna Shvets/Pexels)
© 2021. Health Media Ventures, Inc. . All rights reserved. Licensed from Health.com and published with permission of Health Media Ventures, Inc. . Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.
Health and the Health Logo are registered trademarks of Health Media Ventures, Inc. Used under License.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Most large clinical trials have failed to prove that supplementing with B vitamins reduces the risk of cardiovascular events. Research has indicated that some B vitamins may help lower blood pressure in certain people. Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) may help treat or prevent high blood pressure in those with certain genetic mutations that raise the risk of developing high blood pressure. Folic acid, a synthetic form of vitamin B9, has been found to help lower blood pressure in those who already have high blood pressure.
Answer: Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone), melatonin, grape seed extract, and garlic supplements have all been found in recent research to have blood-pressure-lowering effects.
Answer: Taking vitamin D supplements is not dangerous for hypertension, and has not been found to lower blood pressure in the general population. However, supplementing with vitamin D may have positive effects on blood pressure in certain groups including those with cardiovascular disease and older people.