Dietary supplements linked to BP changes

The use of certain dietary supplements, including coenzyme Q10, fish oil and Echinacea, were associated with changes in diastolic and systolic BP, according to analysis of a large, population-based cohort of adults in the Midwest.

Researchers studied 9,732 adult participants in the Personalized Medicine Research Project in central Wisconsin. The researchers analyzed their dietary history questionnaire data and compared 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.

Among the 37 dietary supplements evaluated in the analysis, nine were associated with changes in BP among users and nonusers after adjustment for age, sex, BMI and smoking status. Mean systolic BP was higher for participants who used bilberry (129.8 mm Hg vs. 125.3 mm Hg; P<.001), coenzyme Q10 (127.3 mm Hg vs. 125.3 mm Hg; P=.011),evening primrose oil (130.1 mm Hg vs. 125.4 mm Hg; P=.008),garlic (127.3 mm Hg vs. 125.3 mm Hg; P<.001), goldenseal (130.2 mm Hg vs. 125.4 mm Hg; P=.012) and milk thistle (128.9 mm Hg vs. 125.4 mm Hg; P=.029). Mean diastolic BP was higher for participants who used Echinacea (74.3 mm Hg vs. 73.1 mm Hg; P=.019), fish oil (73.5 mm Hg vs. 73 mm Hg; P=.018), garlic (73.9 mm Hg vs. 73.1 mm Hg; P=.03) and milk thistle (75.4 mm Hg vs. 73.1 mm Hg; P=.025). Only iron was associated with a decrease in mean diastolic BP (72.2 mm Hg among users vs. 73.1 mm Hg among nonusers; P=.004).

Dietary supplement use was more common among women, who were more likely to indicate use of all evaluated supplements, excluding brewer’s yeast, cayenne, Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, niacin, saw palmetto, selenium and zinc.

In a subanalysis of patients with no hypertension-related diagnoses, vitamin B6, cod liver oil, zinc and ginger were associated with significant reductions in mean diastolic BP, whereas bilberry was associated with a significant increase in mean systolic BP. Patients who reported goldenseal use had significantly higher mean systolic and diastolic BP than nonusers.

“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 wrote. “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.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.