Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium Play Key Roles in Maintaining Blood Pressure Levels—Here’s What to Know


Certain minerals can play key roles in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

Calcium, magnesium, and potassium—three minerals that can be found in a variety of food sources—help to control your blood pressure, experts said.

“Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are all essential electrolytes that are necessary to maintain normal bodily functions,” Jim Liu, MD, a preventative cardiologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Health.

Your doctor can perform a routine test to determine if you’re deficient in any of these minerals.

“A simple blood draw can be done to measure the levels of calcium, magnesium, and potassium to see if they are low,” Liu said.

If you’re deficient in any of these three minerals, you may need to increase your intake. Generally speaking, experts recommend getting more calcium, magnesium, and potassium through dietary changes.

“Getting vitamins and nutrients through food is always preferred over supplements,” Julia Zumpano, RD, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, told Health.

However, people with certain health conditions—or those who take medications that affect their body’s ability to absorb the minerals or the rate at which their body excretes the minerals—may need to take supplements.

“If you are deficient as indicated by a blood test or dietary assessment, your doctor…may suggest a supplement to meet your needs,” Zumpano said.

Here’s why it’s important to make sure you get enough of these minerals, the roles they play in blood pressure levels, and which foods are good sources of each.

How Calcium Affects Your Blood Pressure

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, and it contributes to many bodily functions.1

Consuming calcium helps your body maintain healthy blood pressure levels by helping blood vessels contract and dilate, Zumpano said.

“Calcium is involved in the mechanism for the heart muscle to contract, [and] it also plays an important role in bone health,” Liu explained.

Sources of Calcium

The following are good dietary sources of calcium:1

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Canned sardines
  • Salmon (with bones)
  • Certain vegetables (including kale, broccoli, and bok choi)

According to Zumpano, the mineral also helps with blood clotting and hormone secretion.

The amount of calcium you should get each day depends on multiple factors, including your age. The following are the recommended daily intakes of calcium:1

  • Adults aged 19 to 50: 1,000 milligrams a day
  • Women aged 51 to 70: 1,200 milligrams a day
  • Men aged 51 to 70: 1,000 milligrams a day

If you’re not getting enough calcium, your blood pressure levels may not be the only aspect of your health that’s affected.

“Signs of deficiency can be bone density tests showing bone loss, breaks, or fractures,” Zumpano said.

How Magnesium Affects Your Blood Pressure

In addition to regulating blood pressure levels, magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels as well as the production of bone, protein, and DNA.2

“Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, and blood glucose control,” Zumpano said.

Its effect on the cardiovascular system is similar to that of potassium.

“Magnesium and potassium both have an important role in electrical impulse conduction in the heart and in the body’s nervous system,” Liu explained.

Sources of Magnesium

The following are good dietary sources of magnesium:2

  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Green leafy vegetables (including spinach)
  • Fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Some other dairy products

Men and women require different amounts of magnesium. The following are the recommended daily intakes of magnesium:2

  • Adult women: 310 to 320 milligrams a day
  • Adult men: 400 to 420 milligrams a day

Pregnant adults may be advised to increase their magnesium intake.2

“A [magnesium] deficiency can be caused by low dietary intake, excessive losses due to certain health conditions [including] alcoholism or certain medications,” Zumpano said. “Early signs…are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness.”

How Potassium Affects Your Blood Pressure

Potassium is essential for almost every bodily process. It helps the kidneys and heart function; helps the muscles contract; and helps with nerve transmission.3

“Low intakes of potassium are associated with increased blood pressure, worsening if intake of sodium is high,” Zumpano said. “A high-potassium diet can decrease blood pressure due to urinary sodium excretion and increasing vasodilation, which reduces blood volume.”

Sources of Potassium

The following are good dietary sources of potassium:3

  • Fruits (including dried apricots, prunes, raisins, and bananas)
  • Orange juice
  • Vegetables (including acorn squash, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli)
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybeans
  • Nuts
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Meats (including poultry and fish)

Men and women require different amounts of potassium. The following are the recommended daily intakes of potassium:3

  • Adult women: 2,600 milligrams a day
  • Adult men: 3,400 milligrams a day

Pregnant and breastfeeding adults may be advised to increase their potassium intake.3

Not getting enough potassium can impact your health in a variety of ways.

“Potassium deficiency can lead to increased blood pressure, higher kidney stone risk, bone turnover, and urinary calcium excretion,” Zumpano said.

She explained that signs of a potassium deficiency may include muscle weakness, fatigue, and constipation.

If you’re unsure about whether you get enough calcium, magnesium, or potassium, it can be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider about your options.

If a blood test reveals that you could benefit from a calcium, magnesium, or potassium supplement—or more than one—a provider can help you determine what dosage might be best for you.

It’s important not to take more than the recommended amount of each mineral, since consuming too much calcium, magnesium, or potassium through supplements can be dangerous, experts said.

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