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How Supplements Affect Blood Pressure

Find out which supplements cause negative interactions with common medications – including medications for blood pressure or heart issues

Many seniors take vitamins and supplements without knowing that they can cause negative side effects. BuzzRx explains which supplements cause negative interactions with common medications – including medications for blood pressure or heart issues.

Many seniors take supplements, but are they safe?

If supplements are part of a loved one’s daily routine, they aren’t alone. According to the CDC, it’s estimated that more than 57% of American adults actively take supplements.

The use of dietary supplements also increases with age, with approximately 80% of women and 67% of men over the age of 60 actively taking one.  

Supplements have many great attributes to complement nutrition obtained through diet. But they aren’t medications.

For example, doctors don’t recommend relying on dietary supplements to treat high blood pressure.

We explain what supplements are, how to find high-quality supplements, and which supplements can cause negative interactions with common medications – including medications for blood pressure or heart issues.


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What are supplements?

Supplements are an umbrella term broadly defined as a group of nutrients ranging from vitamins, minerals, herbs, and botanicals, among others.

Supplements come in various forms, such as liquids, tablets, powders, etc. 

Their intended purpose is to enhance what you already absorb through your diet, as some diets can lack essential nutrients.

However, like over-the-counter and prescription medications, it’s always best to ask a doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions before incorporating a new supplement into a loved one’s routine. 

In addition, before a loved one starts taking a new medication, it’s also important to ask a healthcare professional if the medication will interact with a supplement they are already taking.

How to find safe, high-quality supplements

Supermarket shelves are crammed with products that promise a variety of health benefits. 

It can be confusing to separate the wheat from the chaff and know what really helps lead a healthier lifestyle and what’s simply a marketing gimmick. 

You should make sure that your loved one is taking a supplement that has been verified by a reputable third party, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate supplements. 

Quality brands are those that have been verified by Consumer Lab, Pharmacopeia, or NSF International. 

These organizations test supplements and confirm that the bottle contains what the label says. Look for these labels when shopping. 

In addition, it’s important to know that most supplements have a time frame during which they are effective. This is usually two years from the date of manufacture. 

Be sure to check the expiration date on any product before taking it. Taking expired vitamins may result in reduced effectiveness because they slowly degrade over time.

Supplements can interact negatively with medication

It’s a common myth to think that supplements can’t cause any interactions because they come from natural sources and are easily available over the counter. 

It might be more top-of-mind to remember to ask a doctor about medication interactions, but it’s important to also ask about supplements, as many of them can interact with medications, including blood pressure medications. 

The American College of Cardiology estimates that approximately 70% of U.S. adults 65 and older have high blood pressure. 

When it comes to monitoring blood pressure, some supplements may raise your blood pressure, and others can interact with blood pressure medication, making it less effective. 

Since supplements aren’t regulated by any federal agencies, there is generally less information available about adverse effects. 

That’s why it’s essential to make sure that a doctor and pharmacist are aware of any supplements that a loved one you are caring for is taking. 


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Do vitamins affect blood pressure or heart issues?

It’s important to remember that supplements are not synonymous with vitamins. 

Vitamins are a type of supplement, and not all supplements will interact with blood pressure medications. 

At this time, current research has indicated that no vitamins can cause high blood pressure. 

Taking supplements of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K has not been shown to raise blood pressure. 

This is great news for older Americans, as 37% of people over 60 are believed to take vitamin D, and 12% are believed to take vitamin B12.

It is also safe to take dietary supplements that include vitamins, such as multivitamins if you have high blood pressure. Multivitamins, such as Men One-A-Day or Women One-A-Day, have also not been shown to increase the short-term or long-term risk of developing high blood pressure. 

However, it is important to note that vitamins can interact with medications being taken for heart issues. 

For example, if you take a medication to prevent blood clotting (popular names include Warfarin), some vitamins can interact with these medications. 

An example of this is vitamin K, which is known to make Warfarin less effective. 

Another example is Vitamin E, which may interact with Beta-blockers by affecting how the medication is absorbed in the body. Beta-blockers are used to treat high blood pressure.

Do mineral supplements affect blood pressure?

ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, beta-blockers, and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), which treat high blood pressure, may increase blood potassium levels by blocking aldosterone.

Aldosterone is a hormone that is responsible for removing potassium through the urine. 

Therefore, if you take any of these medications you should avoid potassium supplements. 

While all three medications are known to cause high potassium levels in the blood, the risk is lower with beta-blockers compared to ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). ACE inhibitors or ARBs are often prescribed with beta-blockers.

Therefore, you should be mindful of your potassium intake if you are on this combination of medications. 

Potassium is a mineral that helps regulate nerve and muscle function, but too much potassium can lead to a dangerous condition called hyperkalemia. Warning signs include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or vomiting. 

People using medications to treat high blood pressure should talk to their doctor before taking supplements containing potassium to avoid dangerous potassium levels.

Do herbal supplements affect blood pressure?

Just because herbal supplements are derived from natural sources doesn’t guarantee that they are safe to consume.

Adverse effects may offset any potential benefits from these supplements.

Certain herbal supplements can affect systolic and diastolic blood pressure, the upper and lower numbers of your blood pressure reading, respectively.

These include:

  1. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

  2. Guarana (Paullinia cupana)

  3. Ginseng (Panax ginseng and Panax quinquefolius)

  4. Arnica (Arnica montana)

  5. Ephedra (ma-huang)

In addition, herbal supplements can interact with blood pressure medications like beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers.

  1. Coenzyme Q10

  2. Danshen

  3. Evening primrose

  4. Ginkgo biloba

  5. Ginseng

  6. Hawthorn

  7. Licorice

  8. Saw palmetto

  9. St. John’s Wort

For those hoping to cure their high blood pressure without prescription medication, there is currently no strong scientific evidence that any supplement can help to lower blood pressure. 

Supplements are not an alternative for prescription blood pressure medications or lifestyle changes. 

And doctors don’t recommend relying on dietary supplements to treat high blood pressure. 

The best way to control your blood pressure is by achieving a healthy weight, reducing sodium intake, eating a heart-healthy diet (DASH diet), and getting regular exercise. 

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Guest contributor: HaVy Ngo-Hamilton, Pharm.D, is a Clinical Consultant at BuzzRx. She has experience in both hospital and ambulatory care settings and is passionate about leading patients on a path to better health through medication therapy management and lifestyle counseling. She graduated from Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy with a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree.

This article wasn’t sponsored and doesn’t contain affiliate links. For more information, see How We Make Money.

 

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