Blood circulation powers life. It is responsible for delivering key nutrients to cells, tissues and organs throughout the body, as well as carrying away unwanted carbon dioxide and waste products.
The circulatory system is the main bodily system that is involved in blood flow. It works in conjunction with the heart which pumps blood that travels through blood vessels. Hence, circulatory diseases are often related to heart conditions, sharing many of the same risk factors and elevating the risk of the other class of diseases.
Boosting blood flow is key to prevent complications and maintain overall cardiovascular health.
9 Supplements to improve blood flow
To improve blood flow, a person can take the following natural supplements:
1. Vitamin B3
Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 helps improve the function of and reduce inflammation within the blood vessels. Inflammation in the blood vessels can lead to atherosclerosis or the formation of plaques in the arterial walls.
According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin B3 can also help lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which play a role in the development of stroke and heart attack.
Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the protein within the blood that transports oxygen, and myoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. It is also used to make connective tissues including those in the blood vessels.
Quercetin is an antioxidant that is found to improve blood vessel wall dysfunction linked to atherosclerosis. In a study, 23 healthy men who took onion extract – 51 milligrams (mg) of quercetin – once daily for 30 days displayed blood vessel widening after meals.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids
Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA are omega-3 fatty acids that stimulate the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has been found to relax blood vessels and improve blood flow. In a study, healthy men who took 2.2 grams of EPA and 1.4 grams of DHA in a fish oil supplement once daily for four weeks experienced increased blood flow to their legs after exercise.
L-arginine is an amino acid that promotes the release of nitric oxide. Research further shows that L-arginine supplements help reduce blood pressure levels. In a study, researchers administered 2.4 grams of L-arginine alongside doses of folic acid and vitamin B12 to adults aged 45 to 60 years old who have mild to moderate high blood pressure. After three months, the team found that the participants who took the supplements had better blood vessel health and improved blood pressure levels compared to those who took a placebo.
However, L-arginine alone may not promote the release of nitric oxide. To boost the benefits of the nutrient, experts recommend taking L-arginine supplements alongside B vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B12.
Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers which gives them their characteristic spiciness. It belongs to the class of compounds called capsaicinoids that reduce inflammatory chemicals within the blood vessels and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
7. Beetroot powder
Red beetroot powder helps improve blood flow as it contains nitrates that are converted into nitric oxide. In a study, participants aged 57 to 71 years old drank either 140 milliliters of nitrate-rich beetroot juice or a placebo drink. Those who drank beetroot juice displayed reduced blood pressure levels and blood vessel inflammation three hours after ingestion, compared to those who drank the placebo.
Curcumin is the primary active ingredient in turmeric – a powerful superfood that helps prevent a variety of diseases such as cancer.
Among the health benefits of curcumin is improved blood pressure levels. In a study, participants who consumed 2,000 milligrams a day of curcumin supplement had an improved blood vessel function compared to those who took a placebo. (Related: The powerful health benefits of curcumin.)
Garlic is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents such as allicin – a compound that is produced when garlic is crushed or chopped. Research shows that allicin supplementation helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Superfoods.news has more on foods that boost blood flow.