The circulatory system includes approximately 60,000 miles of veins, capillaries, and arteries – all pumping blood to vital organs via the power of your hard-working heart. It is a very important system needed to keep all body functions running at peak condition. However, if neglected, the circulatory system will not be able to deliver oxygen or remove metabolic waste. And poor circulation can cause a variety of health problems.
Specific health conditions can impede good circulation, including cholesterol imbalance, high blood pressure, and inflammation. An imbalanced diet and unhealthy lifestyle choices can also increase the risk of developing poor circulation.
Do you have poor circulation?
Signs of poor circulation include:
· Loss of feeling in the extremities (hands, feet, fingers and toes)
· Cold hands and feet
· Muscle cramping
· Swelling in your legs and ankles
· Leg pain
· Headache with dizziness
· Loss of mental functions, including brain fog
· Low libido
Here are the eight best supplements to improve circulation. If you are showing 1 – 3 or more of these signs, check with your doctor to see if a circulation supplement is right for you.
This sweet fruit is a potent source of a bioactive compound known as punicalagins. This compound is part of the class of antioxidants known as polyphenols, known to provide many health benefits, specifically to the cardiovascular system.
In clinical studies, pomegranate supplementation has been associated with significant decreases in blood pressure and LDL cholesterol – two contributors to circulation loss.1,2
The antioxidants in pomegranate juice have also been shown to act as vasodilators (vein openers), supporting proper blood vessel function and promoting healthy circulation.3
Pomegranate juice has also been shown to improve blood clotting time – as soon as six hours after consumption.4
This antioxidant compound is naturally found in tomatoes, and is in highest concentrations in the skin. To get the most of this compound out of food, heat the tomatoes.
As a supplement, lycopene promotes circulation. Numerous human trials have shown its ability to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.5,6
In laboratory tests, standardized lycopene extracts have also been shown to exert positive effects on platelet function in healthy human volunteers very quickly after consumption – about six hours.7,8
This compound is one of the most powerful antioxidants found in the skin of red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables. It is also the same heart-healthy compound found in red wine.
Well known for its positive effects on blood platelets, resveratrol has been shown to provide a significant increase in nitric oxide (NO) to support higher blood/oxygen levels. In one study, the consumption of resveratrol from red wine was associated with a notable increase in nitric oxide production – a compound that widens blood vessels to increase blood oxygen levels.9
Additionally, the consumption of a resveratrol supplement for circulation may help to reduce the likelihood of unwanted blood clotting, a common cause of circulation loss.10,11
Resveratrol has been shown to benefit the health of epithelial cells (which line blood vessel walls to support venous health) by strengthening them.12
4. Horse Chestnut
Used as a traditional remedy for vein health, this is one of the best supplements to boost circulation. Able to tone and protect blood vessels, horse chestnut has been shown to also act as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Horse chestnut also contains a bioactive compound called aescin, known to offer vasoprotective properties by reducing collagen and elastin loss from the structure of veins.13
Studies have confirmed the ability of horse chestnut to protect blood vessel proteins. This helps capillaries stay strong, even under the stress of obesity, diabetes, or standing for long periods of time.14,15
A 2012 systematic review of 17 studies published between 1976 and 2002 revealed that horse chestnut supplementation may help to reduce leg pain, swelling, and itching for those with chronic venous insufficiency. Results from one of the studies suggested that horse chestnut could be as effective as wearing compression stockings for promoting circulation.16
This herb is one of the oldest known remedies for poor circulation. It contains antioxidant compounds, including flavonoids and terpenoids, known to contribute to heart health.
Ginkgo’s ability to improve blood flow has been confirmed by science. An analysis of eight different studies showed that subjects who consumed ginkgo reported less pain caused by poor circulation to the legs (claudication). Subjects with claudication taking ginkgo were able to walk about 34 meters farther than those who did not.17
This common kitchen herb is also one of the best supplements for good circulation. Known to support cardiovascular health, several human studies have confirmed garlic’s ability to effectively lower blood pressure, as well as positively influence blood cholesterol levels.18,19
In vitro, garlic has been shown to increase the production of a vasodilator in the blood known as cGMP, and thus may help to help relax smooth muscle tissue of the heart, and blood vessels to promote good circulation by widening blood vessels.20,21
This B complex vitamin is also known as B3. Naturally produced in the body, it is also well absorbed when taken my mouth. Needed for proper metabolism, energy production, and hormone synthesis, this vitamin is also involved in delivering nutrients to healthy cells via the bloodstream.
Niacin offers a variety of health benefits, but the most notable for a healthy circulatory system include its positive effect on triglycerides (blood fat). In one study, niacin was shown to significantly reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and lipoprotein levels, while simultaneously increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.22
Niacin has been associated with a significant reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. One study showed that niacin consumption was able to significantly raise HDL cholesterol levels, thus reducing cardiovascular risk.23
For this reason, people with health conditions, including prediabetes, diabetes, and cholesterol imbalance may benefit most from this healthy heart supplement.24
8. Krill Oil
Krill are tiny crustaceans that live in the ocean. They are similar to fatty fish, in that they contain large amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids known as EPA and DHA.25
Like a fish oil supplement, krill oil supplements are a rich source of omega-3 essential fatty acids known to support a healthy circulatory system, but they also contain a rare antioxidant known as astaxanthin. This compound has been shown to offer powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities that support a healthy cardiovascular system.26
There is also evidence from human trials that astaxanthin can improve triglycerides levels (blood fat) by balancing cholesterol levels. In one study, astaxanthin supplementation was associated with a 24 percent reduction of triglycerides, and a 17 percent reduction of LDL cholesterol.27
The omega-3 essential fatty acid content of krill oil has been associated with cardioprotection from EPA+DHA. Multiple positive vascular effects have been observed, including improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammation.28-31
1 Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis 2001 Sep.;158(1):195–198.
2 Sumner MD, Elliott-Eller M, Weidner G, Daubenmier JJ, Chew MH, Marlin R, Raisin CJ, Ornish D. Effects of pomegranate juice consumption on myocardial perfusion in patients with coronary heart disease. Am J Cardiol 2005 Sep.;96(6):810–814.
3 Aviram M, Dornfeld L. Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure. Atherosclerosis 2001 Sep.;158(1):195–198.
4 Polagruto JA et al. Effects of flavonoid-rich beverages on prostacyclin synthesis in humans and human aortic endothelial cells: association with ex vivo platelet function. J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):301-8.
5 Ried K, Fakler P. Protective effect of lycopene on serum cholesterol and blood pressure: Meta-analyses of intervention trials. Maturitas 2011 Apr.;68(4):299-310.
6 Engelhard YN, Gazer B, Paran E. Natural antioxidants from tomato extract reduce blood pressure in patients with grade-1 hypertension: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Am. Heart J. 2006 Jan.;151(1):100.
7 O’Kennedy N, Crosbie L, van Lieshout M, et al. Effects of antiplatelet components of tomato extract on platelet function in vitro and ex vivo: a time-course cannulation study in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006a;84(3):570–579.
8 O’Kennedy N, Crosbie L, Whelan S, et al. Effects of tomato extract on platelet function: a double-blinded crossover study in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Sep;84(3):561-9.
9 Gresele P, Pignatelli P. Resveratrol, at concentrations attainable with moderate wine consumption, stimulates human platelet nitric oxide production. J Nutr. 2008 Sep;138(9):1602-8.
10 Olas B, Wachowicz B. Resveratrol, a phenolic antioxidant with effects on blood platelet functions. Platelets. 2005;16(5):251–260.
11 Malinowska J et al. Response of blood platelets to resveratrol during a model of hyperhomocysteinemia. Platelets. 2011;22(4):277-83.
12 Guorong Li, Coralia Luna. Resveratrol Prevention of Oxidative Stress Damage to Lens Epithelial Cell Cultures Is Mediated by Forkhead Box O Activity. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jun; 52(7): 4395–4401.
13 Horse chestnut – efficacy and safety in chronic venous insufficiency: an overview. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia. Volume 25, Issue 5, September–October 2015, Pages 533–541.
14 Pittler, M. H., and E. Ernst. “Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency.” Archives of Dermatology November, 1998, 134:1356–1360.
15 Shah, D., et al. “Aesculaforce in chronic venous insufficiency: Placebo-controlled double-blind study to demonstrate the efficacy and tolerability of a plant remedy.” Schweizerische Zeitschrift fur Ganzheitsmedizin 1997, 9 (2):86–91.
16 Pittler MH, Ernst E. Horse chestnut seed extract for chronic venous insufficiency. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2012;11:CD003230.
17 Moher D, Pham B, Ausejo M, Saenz A, Hood S, Barber GG. Pharmacological management of intermittent claudication: a meta-analysis of randomised trials. Drugs. 2000;59(5):1057-1070.
18 Ried K, Frank OR, Stocks NP, Fakler P, Sullivan T. Effect of garlic on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC CardiovascDisord 2008;8:13.
19 Reinhart KM, Talati R, White CM, Coleman CI. The impact of garlic on lipid parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutr Res Rev 2009 Jun.;22(1):39-48.
20 Rahman K. Effects of garlic on platelet biochemistry and physiology. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007 Nov;51(11):1335-44.
21 Karin Ried, Peter Fakler. Potential of garlic (Allium sativum) in lowering high blood pressure: mechanisms of action and clinical relevance. Integr Blood Press Control. 2014; 7: 71–82. 2014 Dec 9.
22 Duggal JK, Singh M, Attri N, et al. Effect of niacin therapy on cardiovascular outcomes in patients with coronary artery disease. J. Cardiovasc. Pharmacol. Ther. 2010 Jun.;15(2):158-166.
23 Morgan JM, Capuzzi DM, Baksh RI, et al. Effects of extended-release niacin on lipoprotein subclass distribution. Am J Cardiol 2003 Jun.;91(12):1432-1436.
24 McKenney J. New perspectives on the use of niacin in the treatment of lipid disorders. Arch Intern Med. 2004 Apr 12;164(7):697–705.
25 Kwantes JM., Grundmann O. A brief review of krill oil history, research, and the commercial market [published online ahead of print April 1, 2014]. J Dietary Suppl.
26 Kwantes JM., Grundmann O. A brief review
27 Cardiovascular Benefits of Astaxanthin. Trimeks, 2003.
28 Geleijnse JM., Giltay EJ., Grobbee DE., Donders AR., Kok FJ. Blood pressure response to fish oil supplementation: Metaregression analysis of randomized trials. J Hypertension. 2002;8:1493–1499.
29 Mozaffarian D., Geelen A., Brouwer IA., Geleijnse JM., Zock PL., Katan MB. Effect of fish oil on heart rate in humans: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Circulation. 2005;13:1945–1952.
30 Knapp HR. Dietary fatty acids in human thrombosis and hemostasis. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;5 (Suppl):1687S–98S.
31 Itariu BK., Zeyda M., Hochbrugger EE., et al. Long-chain n-3 PUFAs reduce adipose tissue and systemic inflammation in severely obese nondiabetic patients: A randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;5:1137–1149.