Do you suffer from poor circulation? You may want to consider supplements for circulation. Medications can have negative side effects, so, depending on the condition impacting your circulation, supplements for circulation may be a great place to start before turning to medication.
How can you tell if you have poor circulation? What are the benefits of improved circulation? What are the best foods and supplements for circulation improvement? Are there other ways to improve your circulation? Let’s talk about what you should know about your circulation.
What is circulation?
What does it mean when we talk about good or bad circulation? Circulation refers to the process of your heart pumping oxygenated blood through your arteries to feed your body’s tissues.
Your blood delivers minerals and nutrients throughout the body, which affects cell growth and organ function. The circulating blood also collects waste (like toxins and lactic acid) and transports it to where it can be broken down (like the kidneys or liver).
The average human pumps 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels every single day. In addition to blood, a clear fluid called lymph travels through your blood vessels. Lymph helps remove harmful materials from your body.
As you can imagine, poor circulation can cause a wide variety of health problems if healthy red blood cells can’t bring enough oxygen to parts of your body and it’s more difficult to remove toxins and lactic acid.
Symptoms of poor circulation
If you suffer from poor circulation, you may experience symptoms like:
- Cold hands and feet
- Erectile dysfunction
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Muscle cramps
Causes of poor circulation
Poor circulation is a symptom of a condition rather than a condition itself. Many factors and health conditions can affect circulation, including:
- High or low blood pressure
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- The health of blood and bone marrow
- Reynaud’s disease
- Heart health
- Varicose veins
- Blood vessel health
- Blood clot
- Heart conditions
- Conditions which affect veins or arteries
Diagnosing poor circulation
Since some of the conditions that lead to poor circulation are very serious, you should go to a doctor if you suspect you have poor circulation. To determine what is causing the problems with your circulation, the doctor will do a physical exam and may perform one or more of the following tests:
- Blood sugar test for diabetes
- Antibodies blood test to detect inflammatory conditions like Raynaud’s disease
- Blood testing that checks for high levels of D dimer in the case of a blood clot
- A CT scan or ultrasound
- Blood pressure tests
Benefits of improved circulation
Having healthy blood circulation can have a number of positive impacts on your life, including:
- Improved cell growth and organ function
- Healthier skin condition
- Improved body function
- Lower heart rate and blood pressure
- Enhanced blood flow
How to improve circulation
There are plenty of ways to improve your circulation. Here are some of the most effective ways to improve circulation:
- Stop smoking
- Breathe deeply
- Avoid saturated fats
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Dry brush your skin before you shower
- Switch between hot and cold water when you shower
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit salt intake
- Avoid sitting for long periods of time
- Elevate your legs
- Reduce caffeine consumption
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight
- Take up yoga (or at least do more stretching)
- Reduce stress
- Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in oily fish and kale)
- Drink more tea
- Maintain balanced levels of iron (too much is just as bad as not enough)
- Get a massage
Supplements for circulation
There are a variety of minerals, vitamins, and other supplements that can help improve your circulation including:
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins
- Black pepper
- Butcher’s broom
- Gotu Kola
Foods that improve blood flow
Not a big fan of taking supplements? Some foods contain ingredients that can help improve your circulation, such as:
- Wheat germ
- Hazelnut oil
- Green tea
- Sunflower oil
- Dark chocolate
- Ginkgo biloba
- Natto (avoid if you take warfarin/Coumadin)
- Cold-water fish like salmon, cod, and mackerel
- Raw almonds
- Raw walnuts
Vasodilators widen blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure and improves circulation. This happens when nitric oxide, which is made by your body, relaxes the inner muscles of blood vessels. A lack of nitric oxide is tied to health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and erectile dysfunction.
Luckily, there are natural ways to increase the levels of nitric oxide in your body to widen your blood vessels and improve your circulation. Ways to increase nitric oxide include:
- Eat vegetables high in nitrates. This includes things like arugula, lettuce, spinach, and celery. Studies have shown that these vegetables can decrease blood pressure almost as well as medication. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can also reduce the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.
- Consume more antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which degrade nitric oxide and have other negative effects. Antioxidants are mostly found in plant-based foods like grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Important antioxidants include vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols, and glutathione.
- Use supplements that help form nitric oxide. The amino acids L-arginine and l-citrulline both help form nitric oxide and work as natural vasodilators.
- Avoid mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria that contribute to cavities and other dental diseases. Unfortunately, it also kills oral bacteria that are needed to produce nitric oxide.
- Exercise more. Exercise improves your body’s ability to make nitric oxide and increases antioxidant activity, which reduces the negative impact of free radicals.
Treatments for poor circulation
Depending on what is causing your poor circulation, supplements for circulation may not be enough. Treatments for poor circulation may include:
- Insulin for diabetes
- A special exercise program
- Compression socks for swollen legs
- Laser or endoscopic vein surgery for varicose veins
- Medications such as clot-dissolving drugs, blood thinners, alpha blockers, or calcium channel blockers.