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Supplements shown to lower blood pressure within ‘months’

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Lifestyle adjustments are important for tackling blood pressure, but in severe cases, more drastic measures may be called for. Medication is the first port of call in many medical institutions, but some research indicates that supplements are just as effective.

The claimed benefits of magnesium supplements are wide-ranging, but some of the most common include increased energy and improved mood.

Some research indicates the key nutrient may also have a role in lowering blood pressure.

According to a review published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, magnesium intake of 500 mg/d to 1000 mg/d may reduce blood pressure by as much as 5.6/2.8 mm Hg.

Researchers found that people who took the supplement had significantly lower blood pressure after three months of treatment, compared to those who didn’t.

The report states: “However, clinical studies have a wide range of blood pressure reductions, with some showing no change in blood pressure.”

It adds that the combined effects of high magnesium and potassium intake with reduced sodium intake are more effective in reducing blood pressure than the single mineral intake.

“[It is] often as effective as one antihypertensive drug in treating hypertension,” it adds.

These findings were reinforced by a study led by the University of Hertfordshire in 2012, which shows the effect of magnesium increased in line with increased dosage.

It remains to be conclusively proven, however, that treatment with such supplements can offset complications like ischaemic stroke and arrhythmias.

Magnesium is critical for several of the body’s core functions, as it reduces blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is a signalling molecule that helps relax the blood vessels so that they can accommodate a higher volume of blood.

Holland and Barrett explain that eating an excess of salt can mean the body is not receiving enough magnesium.

It states: “If you eat a diet with lots of salt – found in processed and junk foods – this not only directly pushes up your blood pressure, it can mean you’re not getting enough magnesium, calcium or potassium too.

“Potassium helps the walls of the blood vessels relax, while calcium helps them tighten and relax properly.

“These minerals work alongside magnesium to maintain a healthy blood pressure, so eating a balanced colourful diet is a must.”

The health body adds: “It’s thought that magnesium helps the body release prostacyclin, a hormone-like compound that reduces tension in blood vessel walls.”

Magnesium is also available in various plant and animal food and in beverages, generally ones containing dietary fibre.

Some good sources include:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Spinach
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains.

The National Institute of Health states that the nutrient is also added to some breakfast cereals and other fortified foods.

According to the health body, between 30 and 40 percent of dietary magnesium consumed is absorbed by the body.

The absorption of magnesium from supplements also varies, but forms that dissolve in liquid are generally more completely absorbed compared to less soluble forms.

Anyone thinking of taking supplements, however, is advised to check with their GP or pharmacist that they are safe first.

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