Do minerals help lower blood pressure?

Brian Tanzer
Nutrition & Dietetics

Certain minerals can be beneficial to those individuals with high blood pressure. The two most important minerals are potassium and magnesium. For starters, one should limit their intake of sodium-rich foods (most packaged foods) and increase their intake of potassium-rich foods (fruits, vegetables and other whole foods). In some individuals with high blood pressure these two modifications can help reduce blood pressure. There are those individuals that might not respond to a lower sodium diet, however this is a small percentage of those with high blood pressure. Magnesium has also been shown to help lower high blood pressure. Most people consume plenty of calcium in their diet through dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese.

Magnesium is often the forgotten mineral. We see plenty of people taking calcium supplements that don't include magnesium. This will have a negative impact on blood pressure in most individuals. For those with high blood pressure, 500 mg of magnesium may, along with changes in diet, help support a normal, healthy blood pressure. When supplementing with calcium and magnesium look for something close to a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. In addition look for calcium and magnesium in the form of citrate which is absorbed a bit better than some other commonly found forms such as calcium carbonate and magnesium oxide.

Lona Sandon
Nutrition & Dietetics

Potassium is one mineral that has been shown to help control blood pressure and keep it within normal. Potassium works to lower blood pressure by helping the body secrete excess sodium. A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that the ratio of sodium to potassium in the diet is a key factor in cardiovascular disease risk. For most of us our ratio is off. We eat very high amounts of sodium and very low amounts of potassium. To reverse this, we should aim to eat more high potassium foods and less sodium laden foods. 

Fruits and vegetables are great sources of potassium. Major health organizations including the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend aiming for 4 -5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day. The new MyPlate recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at most meals.

The best way to increase your potassium intake is through fruits and vegetables. Potassium supplements are NOT recommended unless you have been diagnosed by a physician as having a low potassium problem. Taking supplements can be life threatening. 

Other minerals that may be beneficial for managing blood pressure are magnesium and calcium. Magnesium is found in dark leafy green vegetables and nuts and seeds. Calcium can also be found in some vegetables, almonds, kidney beans, and of course low-fat dairy and fortified foods. Studies support eating the actual foods over taking supplements.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.