Should I Take Beetroot Supplements?

Should I Take Beetroot Supplements?
Should I Take Beetroot Supplements?
Emma Yasinski
Emma Yasinski Staff Writer

Eloisa Hife, a pet blogger and MedShadow reader, once read in a magazine that beetroot powder might help her athletic performance. As a fitness enthusiast, she decided to give it a try.

I noticed that I had more energy and endurance during my workouts, and my blood pressure also went down slightly,” she says. Despite these mild positive effects, after about six months, Hife realized she’d rather just incorporate the vegetable into her diet, and she stopped using the powder.

What Is Beetroot?

Beetroot is another word for a beet. These vegetables have several health benefits, and companies have begun to turn them into juices, powders, and extracts that can be easily added to smoothies or even pasta doughs. For those who aren’t interested in cooking, they also can come as capsules and gummies you can swallow or chew.

Forms of Beetroot

  • The whole vegetable
  • Powder
  • Juice
  • Extracts
  • Capsules
  • Gummies

Benefits of Beetroot

Beets are a healthy vegetable filled with nutrients such as vitamin C, iron, and magnesium, but the reason you’re likely hearing about them more now than ever is that some evidence suggests that the nitrates they contain can lower blood pressure and improve exercise performance. Barbara Kovalenko, RD and nutrition consultant at Lasta Fasting, says that she’d recommend beetroot powder to some clients as a concentrated source of nitrates that is easy to add to meals or smoothies.

Your body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which can expand your blood vessels and increase blood flow. This means your body can deliver oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, tissue, and even brain more efficiently.

Still, the research on beetroot supplementation is mixed. The two effects scientists have tested most are improved athletic performance and reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension.

Studies on athletic performance are small and mixed. It seems that the supplements may help with reducing fatigue in endurance athletes and improving weightlifting endurance, but some small studies suggested it did not help with other aspects of athletic performance, such as sprint speed or the amount of weight an individual could squat or bench press.

Since nitrates widen blood vessels, they can reduce your blood pressure; that’s why they’re often used in medicines to treat conditions such as angina chest pain, which happens when you don’t get enough blood flowing to your heart. However research on beetroot supplements hasn’t been as consistent. For example, one review found that the supplements lowered blood pressure, but only when blood pressure was measured in a doctor’s office, not elsewhere.

Wait, Aren’t Nitrates Bad?

There are multiple sources of nitrates, including vegetables, deli meat, and medicines, and each may affect you differently. Some are found in processed meats and wines, which experts generally recommend we try to consume in moderation. Nitrates in processed meats (such as deli meat, bacon etc.) may raise your risk of developing certain types of cancers, though researchers caution there are other reasons that processed meats are unhealthy, and nitrates may not be completely to blame.

The nitrates you get from spinach and beets are the same as the nitrates you get in processed meats, but they come neatly packaged with another type of nutrient: antioxidants. Antioxidants, like vitamin C, stop the nitrates from turning into compounds that can raise your cancer risk.

Can Beet Juice Help with Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?

Some people say that drinking beet juice before sex helps with arousal and keeping their penis erect throughout. There’s no research on this specifically, but experts have pointed out that high blood pressure can prevent blood flow to the clitoris or penis, hindering sexual function, and that, since beets can lower blood pressure, they may also help with sexual function. For more information on treating ED, read MedShadow’s 6 Common Medications That Can Cause Erectile Dysfunction, 6 Alternatives to Erectile Dysfunction Drugs and A Decision Making Guide to ED Drugs.

Side Effects Of Beetroot

Several people who used beetroot powders or juices said they experienced reddish colored stools. This is common, and generally not a cause for concern, however it is more common in those with iron deficiencies and difficulty absorbing nutrients, so if you notice it, mention it to your healthcare provider.

I may have gone a tad overboard with my dosage, and the results weren’t pretty. My toilet trips became a colorful experience,” says readerTom Paddock.

According to Kovalenko, it can be easy for people to consume too much of the vegetable when they get it in concentrated forms such as powders, and if you go overboard with the dose, you might have some digestive discomfort.

Other risks include:

A Note of Caution for Any Supplement

Vitamins and supplements don’t get the same scrutiny from the FDA as drugs. The benefits and risks listed above are based on the assumption that your supplement contains exactly what is listed on the label, and nothing else. However, study after study has found that supplements can be tainted with pharmaceuticals or other contaminants that may cause additional side effects. 

One way to reduce your risk is to check the label for a certification that the supplement has been tested by a third party. Groups like the National Science Foundation (NSF) or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) test supplements to confirm that they contain the products listed on the label and don’t have unsafe levels of contaminants.

Ways to Incorporate More Beets in Your Diet

Luckily, if you’re wondering if you should take beetroot supplements and hoping to reap the benefits of beets in your diet, you don’t necessarily need a supplement. You can squeeze these versatile vegetables into a variety of meals. Another way to use them is to boil or bake them and add them to salads. Some even slice them thin and bake or dry them into crispy chips. Check out this beet-filled lunch recipe in our Anti Inflammatory diet guide. One easy way to prepare them is to pickle them in vinegar, so you can eat them even when they aren’t in season. Kovalenko, who previously lived in Ukraine, says “Beets are popular in Eastern European cuisine, used in traditional recipes for soups, salads, and colorings.” 

DISCLAIMER: MedShadow provides information and resources related to medications, their effects, and potential side effects. However, it is important to note that we are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content on our site is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Individuals dealing with medical conditions or symptoms should seek guidance from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a physician or pharmacist, who can provide personalized medical advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

While we strive to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information presented on MedShadow, we cannot guarantee its completeness or suitability for any particular individual's medical needs. Therefore, we strongly encourage users to consult with qualified healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or decisions. By accessing and using MedShadow, you acknowledge and agree that the information provided on the site is not a substitute for professional medical advice and that you should always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for any medical concerns.

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