High blood pressure (hypertension) is a condition in which the force at which your blood pumps through your arteries is too strong. This can be the result of an underlying medical condition, stress or a narrowing of the arteries. It can also happen when your body is lacking necessary minerals, such as potassium, magnesium or calcium. (Always consult your physician before supplementing with any minerals, especially if you are currently being treated for a medical condition or have existing high blood pressure.)
Potassium is a mineral that is essential for heart and muscle function. Not having enough potassium in the body is called hypokalemia and, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, insufficient levels of potassium have been associated with high blood pressure. The American Heart Association states that potassium can often be lost through urine as a result of taking certain medications. The good news is that it can be replaced through healthy fruits and vegetables such as bananas, potatoes, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges and prunes.
The UMMC states that the RDA for potassium for an adult is 2000 mg. Since one banana contains 467 mg, you can see that eating a diet rich with fruits and vegetables should give adequate intake. For a more complete listing of potassium food sources, see the World's Healthiest Foods link below.
The July/August 2007 issue of American Journal of Therapeutics reports that magnesium helps regulate the muscle tone of the circulatory system, which is how a deficiency can affect blood pressure. It also states that a magnesium deficiency can have a negative effect on other heart- and aging-related processes. According to the National Institute of Health, magnesium is responsible for more than 300 cellular functions in the body. It is stored in the bones and tissues of the body, and deficiency usually only happens when there is not an adequate dietary intake of it.
That is the good news, as you can easily add foods high in magnesium to your daily diet. The RDA for adults, according to the NIH, is between 300 and 420 mg per day. Examples of magnesium-rich foods are leafy greens such as Swiss chard and spinach, providing roughly 150 mg in a 1 cup serving, as well as pumpkin seeds. See the World's Healthiest Foods link below for additional sources.
The National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements credits calcium for proper expansion and contraction of blood vessels, transmitting nervous system impulses and secreting hormones. In order to perform these functions the body needs to make sure that the level of calcium is maintained. Due to its role in blood vessel expansion, adequate amounts of calcium are needed to help regulate blood pressure.
The Linus Pauling Institute reports that 23 scientific studies showed a connection between calcium intake and lowered blood pressure, and that an intake of calcium at the RDA, which is 1000 to 1200 mg, can help prevent and treat high blood pressure. While the reduction in blood pressure may be minimal, ensuring you get enough calcium on a daily basis is wise in light of the many functions it performs in the body.
Foods high in calcium are dairy products and leafy greens. When selecting dairy products, opt for low- or non-fat to cut down on dietary fat intake. For a more thorough listing of calcium food sources, see the World's Healthiest Foods link below.