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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The use of dietary supplements and their association with blood pressure in a large Midwestern cohort

Catherine A McCarty1*, Richard L Berg2, Carla M Rottscheit2 and Richard A Dart2

Author Affiliations

1 Essentia Institute of Rural Health, 6AV-2 502 East Second Street, Duluth, MN 55805, USA

2 Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:339  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-339

Published: 28 November 2013

Abstract

Background

There have been numerous studies assessing the association of diet and blood pressure but little is known about the association between less commonly used nutritional supplements and blood pressured. The purpose of this study was to quantify the use of dietary supplements and their potential association with blood pressure in a large population-based cohort of adults in the Midwest.

Methods

The Personalized Medicine Research Project cohort was the population source for the current study. The current study includes subjects with Dietary History Questionnaire (DHQ) data available as well as at least one clinical blood pressure measurement recorded in their electronic medical record. After excluding extreme outlying measurements, median systolic and diastolic blood pressure measurements were calculated for each individual and were compared for subjects who did and did not report taking one of a list of 37 different supplements listed on the DHQ more than once per week over the previous 12 months.

Results

9,732 subjects had both blood pressure and DHQ data available. They ranged in age from 18 to 98 years (mean 56 years) and 3,625 (37%) were male. Nine of 37 supplements showed evidence for association with blood pressure: coenzyme Q10, fish oil, iron, bilberry, echinacea, evening primrose oil, garlic, goldenseal and milk thistle. With the exception of the mineral iron, mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were higher for users of the specific supplements than non-users.

Conclusions

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. We hope the observed significant associations will foster future research to evaluate blood pressure effects of dietary supplements.

Keywords:
Blood pressure; Dietary supplements