What Supplements Have an Effect on Heart Rate?

Many supplements for heart health can alter the heart rate including magnesium and potassium, and vitamins like vitamin D.
Image Credit: Photo by Cathy Scola/Moment/GettyImages

Supplements for heart health can work to regulate your blood pressure and heart rate. However, you may experience negative side effects, like arrhythmias, by taking large amounts of these supplements. Even essential vitamins and minerals can be harmful when consumed in excess.

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Many supplements for heart health can alter the heart rate. These include minerals like magnesium and potassium, and vitamins like vitamin D.

Read more: 43 Supplements Exposed: Which Ones to Consider, Which Ones to Avoid

Nutrient Intake and Cardiovascular Health

There are a variety of essential nutrients you need to consume on a daily basis. Fourteen of them play a role in cardiovascular health. Most vitamins and minerals help your body create red blood cells. Other nutrients have more specific roles, like supporting coagulation or blood vessel formation.

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According to Harvard Health Publishing and the Food and Drug Administration, potassium and magnesium are particularly important for cardiovascular health because they help maintain normal heart rhythm. Both of these nutrients, along with sodium and vitamin D, also help regulate blood pressure.

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Because so many vitamins and minerals are involved in cardiovascular health, most of them affect your heart in some way. However, it's more likely for too much of a certain nutrient to affect your heart, rather than too little of it. Overconsumption of certain nutrients can cause issues like palpitations, arrhythmias and changes in your heart rate.

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Dietary changes — even healthy ones — can also affect heart rate. For example, a March 2016 study in the journal Frontiers in Physiology found that a reduction in sodium intake reduced blood pressure while increasing heart rate.

Read more: 10 Heart Healthy Foods That Aren't

Nutrients for Stable Heart Rate

A normal resting heart rate typically ranges between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Magnesium and potassium both work to keep your heart beating steadily and consistently within that range.

Potassium can be found in foods like legumes and beans, dried fruits, squash, root vegetables and bananas. It's present in small amounts most meat and fish products too. Most people need to consume between 2,600 and 3,400 milligrams of this nutrient on a daily basis.

Magnesium can be found in legumes and beans as well. It's easy to consume through fiber-rich, plant-based foods like nuts, spinach and avocado. However, you can also find it in animal products in small amounts. Most people need to consume between 310 and 420 milligrams of this mineral each day.

Insufficient amounts of both potassium and magnesium can cause heart issues, particularly cardiac arrhythmias. According to the American Heart Association, arrhythmias come in many different types. The term can refer to your heart beating too quickly, too slowly or erratically. Conditions like tachycardia, bradycardia, atrial fibrillation and ventricular fibrillation are all types of arrhythmias that can occur because of nutrient insufficiency.

Read more: The 14 Best Foods for Your Heart

Overconsuming Supplements for Heart Health

If your cardiovascular system has been giving you issues due to a vitamin or mineral insufficiency, your doctor will likely recommend that you take supplements for heart health. You're particularly likely to require potassium supplements, because this mineral is a considered to be a nutrient of concern. This means most Americans don't get enough of this essential nutrient. The Food and Drug Administration considers vitamin D, iron and calcium to be nutrients of concern, as well.

Regardless of any nutrient deficiencies you have, you should be careful not to overcompensate through supplements. Although many nutrients are considered to be essential for good heart health, large amounts can be bad for your cardiovascular system. For example, both magnesium and potassium can cause side effects when taken in large amounts.

Large amounts of potassium typically cause mild side effects that primarily affect your gastrointestinal system. However, large amounts of potassium supplements have the potential to cause "hyperkalemia," which essentially refers to a build-up of potassium in your body. This condition can cause a variety of muscle issues and affect your heart rate. It may cause palpitations and life-threatening arrhythmias.

Large amounts of magnesium can also cause heart problems. It's rare for healthy people to experience magnesium toxicity, but it's possible for this to occur if you take large amounts of supplements. Excessive magnesium can cause very low blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and even heart attacks. Magnesium toxicity can result in death.

Similarly, large amounts of vitamin D can damage the blood vessels and the heart. Excessive amounts of this nutrient can also cause cardiac arrhythmias. Like with magnesium, you're only likely to experience vitamin D toxicity due to overconsumption of supplements.

Not every nutrient will cause heart issues. For example, vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is considered incredibly important for heart health. According to an August 2016 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, this nutrient can help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

However, it is possible to consume large amounts of vitamin C with minimal side effects. Having vitamin C increase heart rate, slow heart rate or influence it in any way is very unlikely.

Supplements That Raise Heart Rate

Certain dietary supplements can also affect the heart rate. An October 2014 study in the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism reported that ingredients like ginseng, taurine and Ginkgo biloba can cause increased blood pressure and tachycardia (otherwise known as elevated heart rate).

According to a March 2018 study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, these supplements are consumed to enhance cognitive function. Other commonly consumed cognitive supplements include cocoa flavanols (which can be found in dark chocolate) and guarana seeds.

Many of these dietary supplements are added to energy drinks and other caffeinated beverages. Some of them, like cacao and guarana seeds, are used to increase the caffeine content in these products.

Caffeine is perfectly healthy in moderation, but in large amounts, it's well-known to cause cardiac side effects and increase heart rate. If you have already been experiencing cardiovascular issues, you should talk to your doctor before integrating any supplements than increase heart rate into your diet.

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