Nutrition Tip of the Week: Normalizing Blood Flow/Pressure
This nutrition information is not intended to treat, diagnose or mitigate any disease and is for informational purposes only
Blood pressure is controlled by a complex interplay of factors such as diet, genetics, response to stress, medications, and other underlying health conditions. Enlightened health care practitioners and their patients are discovering that inadequately controlled blood pressure requires a multifactorial strategy. An optimal strategy employs a combination of nutritional recommendations that offer a comprehensive approach for normalizing blood pressure. This makes more sense considering that a large number of Americans do not achieve adequate blood pressure control on blood pressure medication alone.
In recent years, researchers have discovered a trio of nutrients that work together to help normalize blood pressure along with regular exercise, yoga and other breathing exercises.
The following nutrients contain antioxidants and compounds that help reduce oxidative damage and relax the arteries:
Casein peptide– While searching for a natural agent to help optimize blood pressure, researchers hydrolyzed (or split) the milk protein known as casein and isolated the C12 peptide. Clinical studies now show that the C12 peptide is a natural ACE inhibitor that has specific blood pressure–lowering effects (Karaki H et al 1990). The C12 peptide is not recommended for people who are allergic to dairy products and, like other ACE inhibitors, pregnant women should not take the C12 peptide.
Grape seed extract. The C12 peptide is not the only natural agent that effectively supports healthy blood pressure levels. Grape seed extract, which is already known to have a wealth of health benefits, contains high concentrations of polyphenols, potent antioxidants that naturally increase the dilation (widening) of blood vessels. This dilation naturally increases blood flow while decreasing blood pressure (Siva B et al 2006). Grape seed extract is considered safe and is well tolerated.
Pomegranate extract. Pomegranates are fast becoming known as one of the healthiest foods we can eat, largely because of their beneficial effects on cardiovascular health (Aviram M et al 2001). While many people drink pomegranate juice, pomegranate extract may hold even greater benefits.
The benefit of supplementing with pomegranate extract (rather than drinking the juice or eating the fruit) is that the extract, unlike the juice, contains virtually no sugar or calories, and requires no refrigeration to maintain optimal quality. Interestingly, commercial pomegranate juice and whole fruit extracts contain beneficial phytonutrients that are not obtained from eating the pomegranate fruit itself (Gil MI et al 2000). In particular, punicalagins, the primary antioxidant found in pomegranates, are concentrated in the husk and in the juice of the whole fruit (Gil MI et al 2000).
Scientists are now studying pomegranate extract to uncover the many advantages it may have for human health. Pomegranates contain an array of beneficial phytonutrients such as phenolic compounds and tannins, including punicalagins, which are unique to pomegranates. Several compounds in pomegranates are potent antioxidants and ACE inhibitors (Aviram M et al 2001). Researchers have determined that oxidative stress can disrupt the balance of vasoconstricting and vasodilating biochemicals in the endothelium, contributing to high blood pressure and endothelial dysfunction. By quenching oxidative stress, antioxidants may help prevent vasoconstriction, lower blood pressure, and promote healthy endothelial function (Kitiyakara C et al 1998).
Additional Nutritional Support
While the three nutrients discussed can form the backbone of a natural approach to normalizing blood pressure (and may work in conjunction with blood pressure–lowering medication), there are many other nutrients that may also help normalize blood pressure.
Minerals. Magnesium works in conjunction with calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and other nutrients to control the contraction and relaxation of muscles. It is very important to maintain the correct balance for proper blood pressure maintenance.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that detoxifies (reduces) strong oxidants in the body. It stabilizes cell membranes and regulates oxidation reactions, as well as protects polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin A. Meta-analyses have suggested that vitamin E may be particularly beneficial for patients who have high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems (Taber M 2006).
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that protects other biochemicals from oxidation by being oxidized itself. A small, well-controlled study of 39 participants showed that treatment with vitamin C significantly lowered blood pressure after 30 days, while placebo had no effect (Duffy SJ et al 1999).
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means the body needs these substances but is unable to manufacture them. They must come from food, such as cold-water fish or flaxseed. Studies that have looked at the incidence of high blood pressure and omega-3 fatty acids in large populations suggest that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids or dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood pressure (Hirafuji M et al 2003). It appears that omega-3 fatty acids have a direct widening effect on blood vessels (Din JN et al 2004). A great source available at my Metagenics Website. See below.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria, which is the energy-producing center of cells. It is involved in making the molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is the cell’s major energy source. CoQ10 also serves as an antioxidant. Some studies have suggested that CoQ10 may stimulate the immune system and increase resistance to disease (Folkers K et al 1988), as well as lower blood pressure (Hodgson JM et al 2002). A good option available on my Metagenics Website. See below.
L-arginine s a basic amino acid found in many proteins and is essential to growth and health maintenance in all vertebrates. There is abundant evidence that it also plays an important role in maintaining endothelial function and blood vessel dilation and in reducing blood pressure. L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which is essential for the proper function of the endothelium. L-arginine has been shown to boost levels of nitric oxide, which reduces endothelial dysfunction (Boger RH et al 2005; Rasmussen C et al 2005). This helps maintain vascular integrity (Boger RH et al 2005). All Amino Acids have an opposite to keep them in balance. So if you increase your intake of L-arginine be sure to consider L-Lysine in addition.
Taurine– a sulfur-containing amino acid that is classified as conditionally essential, since the body can produce it from other amino acids, such as cysteine, based on the body’s needs. A study was performed on 10 young adults who were borderline hypertensive and took 6 g/day of taurine. Their average systolic blood pressure decreased 9 mm Hg (Fujita T et al 1987). Researchers speculate that taurine may modulate an overactive sympathetic nervous system (Militante JD et al 2002).
Garlic: Many patients who have high blood pressure use garlic to normalize high blood pressure or help prevent fatty plaque buildup in the arteries and blockages that can lead to heart attack or stroke. The sulfur compounds, especially allicin, are the active ingredients in garlic (Tattelman E 2005). More medical research is underway to assess the usefulness of garlic to prevent heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure (Edwards QT et al 2005).
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha; Crataegus monogyna). Hawthorn berries have been used traditionally for cardiovascular health. Hawthorn appears to mildly reduce blood pressure, possibly via blood vessel dilation (Chang WT et al 2005; Schussler M et al 1995; Leuchtgens H 1993). One study examined the effects of varying doses of hawthorn (500 mg, 600 mg, and a combination of both dosages) on essential hypertension. Researchers found a promising reduction in the resting diastolic blood pressure of (as well as a reduction in anxiety in) the patients who were taking hawthorn (Walker AF et al 2002).
Olive leaf (Olea europaea) extract. One of the primary active constituents of olive leaf extract is oleuropein, a complex of flavonoids, esters, and iridoid glycosides, which may have vasodilative properties. Research on the hypotensive effects of this plant found that, when an extract was given for 3 months, blood pressure was reduced in all patients and there were no adverse effects (Cherif S et al 1996).
Because many of the nutrients that normalize blood pressure act along the same metabolic pathways as blood pressure–lowering medications, it is important to let your physician know which supplements you are taking before beginning conventional blood pressure medication.
Nutrients that may help normalize blood pressure include: (Many believe that 115/75 is the optimal blood pressure.)
- •C12 Casein Peptide—200 to 400 milligrams (mg)/day
- •Grape Seed Extract—150 to 300 mg/day
- •Pomegranate extract—50 to 100 mg/day
- •Calcium—1200 to 1500 mg/day (with Magnesium (2–1 ratio)and Vitamin D added
- • CoQ10—100 to 300 mg/day
- • Garlic—1200 mg/day
- •Hawthorne—240 mg twice a day between meals
- •L-Arginine-2000 mg three times a day between meals (consider taking L-Lysine as well)
- •Magnesium—500 mg/day (or more), based on maximum bowel tolerance and hypotensive effect; take the most at night before bed
- •Olive Leaf extract—500 mg/day
- •EPA and DHA Omega 3 Oils—1400 mg/day of EPA and 1000 mg/day of DHA
- •Potassium—99 mg/day (or more) when instructed to do so by a health care professional, based on blood test results. Discuss with your health professional
- •SOy Protein—17 to 34 grams (g)/day-if you are non-allergic
- •Taurine—1000 to 6000 mg/day
- •Vitamin C—1 to 3 g/day
- •Vitamin E—400 International Units (IU)/day with about 200 mg of gamma-tocopherol
Saftey notes: Consider the effects of each supplement taken
An aggressive program of dietary supplementation should not be launched without the supervision of a qualified physician. Several of the nutrients suggested in this protocol may have adverse effects. These include:
- •See your doctor and monitor your blood glucose level frequently if you take CoQ10 and have diabetes. Several clinical reports suggest that taking CoQ10 may improve glycemic control and the function of beta cells in people who have type 2 diabetes.
- •Statin drugs (such as lovastatin, simvastatin, and pravastatin) are known to decrease CoQ10 levels.
- •Do not take calcium if you have hypercalcemia.
- •Do not take calcium if you form calcium-containing kidney stones.
- •Ingesting calcium without food can increase the risk of kidney stones in women and possibly men.
- •Calcium can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, bloating, gas, and flatulence.
- •Large doses of calcium carbonate (12 grams or more daily or 5 grams or more of elemental calcium daily) can cause milk-alkali syndrome, nephrocalcinosis, or renal insufficiency.
- •Consult your doctor before taking EPA/DHA if you take warfarin (Coumadin). Taking EPA/DHA with warfarin may increase the risk of bleeding.
- •Discontinue using EPA/DHA 2 weeks before any surgical procedure.
- •Garlic has blood-thinning, anticlotting properties.
- •Discontinue using garlic before any surgical procedure.
- •Garlic can cause headache, muscle pain, fatigue, vertigo, watery eyes, asthma, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea.
- •Ingesting large amounts of garlic can cause bad breath and body odor.
- •High doses of hawthorn are toxic and may induce sedation and abnormally low blood pressure.
- •Do not take hawthorn if you take digoxin. Hawthorn can interfere with the effects of digoxin.
- •Do not take L-arginine if you have the rare genetic disorder argininemia.
- •Consult your doctor before taking L-arginine if you have cancer. L-arginine can stimulate growth hormone.
- •Consult your doctor before taking L-arginine if you have kidney failure or liver failure.
- •Consult your doctor before taking L-arginine if you have herpes simplex. L-arginine may increase the possibility of recurrence.
- •Do not take magnesium if you have kidney failure or myasthenia gravis.
Olive Leaf Oil
- •Do not take olive leaf oil if you have a history of gallstones.
- •Do not take potassium if you have hyperkalemia (a greater-than-normal concentration of potassium in the blood).
- •Consult your doctor before taking potassium for potassium deficiency.
- •Potassium can cause rash and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- •Do not take soy if you have an estrogen receptor-positive tumor.
- •Soy has been associated with hypothyroidism.
- •Do not take vitamin C if you have a history of kidney stones or of kidney insufficiency (defined as having a serum creatine level greater than 2 milligrams per deciliter and/or a creatinine clearance less than 30 milliliters per minute.
- •Consult your doctor before taking large amounts of vitamin C if you have hemochromatosis, thalassemia, sideroblastic anemia, sickle cell anemia, or erythrocyte glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency. You can experience iron overload if you have one of these conditions and use large amounts of vitamin C.
- •Do not take vitamin D if you have hypercalcemia.
- •Consult your doctor before taking vitamin D if you are taking digoxin or any cardiac glycoside.
- •Only take large doses of vitamin D (2000 international units or 50 micrograms or more daily) if prescribed by your doctor.
- •See your doctor frequently if you take vitamin D and thiazides or if you take large doses of vitamin D. You may develop hypercalcemia.
- •Chronic large doses (95 micrograms or 3800 international units or more daily) of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia.
If taking prescription drug Coumadin-ok with an emergency-it helps keep arteries open during a heart attack. Consult your Dr while taking Coumadin for extended periods as It is a blood thinner. If taking Coumadin do not take turmeric, niacin or fish oil because it causes the Coumadin to be too effective in thinning the blood which could cause a bleed out. Also do not take it along with blood coagulator such as vitamin K (grapefruit) because it can cause a clot and stroke.
Check with your doctor before choosing a supplement program
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