A large, population-based study of Midwest adults has shown that use of certain dietary supplements, including fish oil, echinacea and coenzyme Q10, was tied to changes in subjects’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

The November 28 issue of BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine (2013, [13], 339) published the study, which followed 9,732 men and women in the Personalized Medicine Research Project in central Wisconsin. Subjects’ dietary history data (obtained by questionnaire) was compared with the median systolic and diastolic BP levels of those who did and did not report use of one or more dietary supplements more than once a week in the previous year.

Nine of the 37 dietary supplements evaluated were linked with changes in BP among users and nonusers after adjustments for age, sex, body mass index and smoking status. Mean systolic BP was higher for participants who used bilberry, coenzyme Q10, evening primrose oil, garlic, goldenseal and milk thistle. Mean diastolic BP was higher for participants who used echinacea, fish oil, garlic and milk thistle. Only iron was associated with a decrease in mean diastolic BP.

“These results should not be interpreted as causal, nor can the direction of the association be assumed to be correct, because the temporality of the association is unknown,” the researchers concluded. “Despite these limitations, these data are intriguing and suggest areas for further research, where sufficient evidence does not already exist, into potential dietary supplements that could be used to lower BP or for which use should be cautioned in people with hypertension.”

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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