Vitamins are organic compounds used by the body for a variety of metabolic processes. Although essential for many vital functions, people with health conditions such as high blood pressure needs to avoid taking certain vitamin supplements and herbs.

Who needs vitamin supplements?

Although vitamin supplements are designed to mimic naturally occurring vitamins, they may not be in the exact chemical composition of how they are received through diet. Researchers believe it is better to get vitamins from the diet itself except for vitamins such as folate, which gets better absorbed by the body through supplements than through food.

However, many people may not get adequate vitamins from their normal diet, and they might need to take supplements. This includes pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, people who consume more than recommended doses of alcohol, drug users and the elderly. People who are on crash diets, or patients with food allergies and malabsorption issues such as diarrhea, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease might also need to take vitamin supplements.

How do vitamins affect blood pressure?

Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when the pressure of blood pumping against the artery walls is higher than normal levels.

Research has shown that many vitamins can increase blood pressure either by directly affecting the cardiovascular system or by even interfering with blood pressure medicines. Certain supplements such as coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) and melatonin have antihypertensive effects, that can help lower blood pressure levels.

Hence, it is essential to discuss with a healthcare provider before starting vitamin supplements, especially for people who suffer from hypertension or patients who are on blood thinning or any other medications.

Vitamins and herbs to avoid when you have hypertension

Vitamin E – It is the vitamin responsible for protecting against cell damage. Vitamin E reduces the body's ability to form blood clots. Hence high doses of the vitamin might increase the risk of bleeding after an injury or brain bleed. It can also increase the bleeding risk for those on blood-thinning medications.

Vitamin K – It helps in blood clots and maintains bone health. Hence, taking vitamin K supplements can interfere with blood-thinning medications and can increase the risk of blood clots, heart attacks or stroke.

Vitamin D – It is essential to help the body to absorb calcium and other minerals. However, an overdose of vitamin D can cause hypercalcemia, or abnormally high calcium buildup in the blood, causing vitamin D toxicity. The symptoms include high blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, gastrointestinal symptoms, kidney failure and changes in mental state.

Arnica – It is a herb sometimes used to flavor foods. It can be poisonous when consumed in larger quantities. Arnica is used as a supplement for pain caused by osteoarthritis, bleeding, bruising, swelling after surgery and other conditions, although there is not enough research to support the benefits. It is unsafe to use to take it by mouth unless used in homeopathic dilutions and can cause heart issues, dizziness and other medical problems.

Bitter Orange It is derived from the extract of the fruit or peel of bitter orange and is often used as a weight-loss supplement and sports performance product. Although studies have shown conflicting reports on the effect of bitter orange supplements, many cases of heart attacks, stroke and angina have been linked to its consumption.

Guarana The herb is used in energy drinks that contain caffeine. The use of excessive caffeine can increase blood pressure and heart rate and can cause heart rhythm disturbances.

Although essential for many vital functions, people with health conditions such as high blood pressure needs to avoid taking certain vitamin supplements and herbs.