The 5 Best Supplements for Blood Flow, According to a Dietitian

Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

September 20, 2023

Poor circulation can result in tingling, numbness, pain, and muscle cramps. While there can be numerous factors at play, the following five supplements may assist in proper blood flow.

As a registered dietitian, I have seen many people explore supplementation to promote healthy blood circulation. But it’s important to know that supplements aren’t a “one-pill-fix-all” approach. If the rest of your dietary or lifestyle habits don’t support free-flowing blood, supplementation alone may not fully address circulation issues.

If you’re curious to know which supplements support healthy blood flow, or how to improve circulation, keep reading.

What Is Blood Flow?

Blood flow refers to the continuous circulation of blood in your cardiovascular system. This important process is driven by your heart, which pumps blood and causes it to flow throughout the body via your blood vessels.

Proper blood flow allows your body to move nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and other substances to the cells and tissues of your body. This exchange is essential for fueling your organs so they can function properly. Proper blood flow also allows for the removal of waste products like carbon dioxide, toxins, and excess electrolytes.

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What Causes Poor Blood Flow?

Poor blood circulation can be a result of several lifestyle factors or health conditions, or a combo of many. Common culprits include:

  • A sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to the accumulation of plaque in your blood vessels, making it more difficult for your body to move blood around the circulatory system.
  • Certain chronic conditions. These can include high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity.
  • Certain cardiovascular conditions. These can include peripheral artery disease or heart disease—both of which can reduce blood flow to different parts of the body. 
  • Smoking. This can damage your blood vessels, making it harder for blood to flow.
  • Older age. This is because blood vessels can lose their elasticity over time.
  • Certain genetic conditions. These can include the following: familial hypercholesterolemia, Marfan syndrome, sickle cell disease, hemophilia, hereditary hemochromatosis, congenital heart defects, arrhythmias, and polycystic kidney disease.

It's important to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of poor circulation, especially if you are considering supplementation.

What Are the Symptoms of Poor Blood Flow?

If you’re wondering whether or not you have poor blood flow, there are certain symptoms you can look out for:

  • Unexplained pain or swelling in your lower limbs (also referred to as edema), especially when accompanied by throbbing or stinging leg pain while walking.
  • Coldness, numbness, tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation in the extremities (such as the arms or legs).
  • Muscle cramps and fatigue after physical activity.
  • Chronic issues with memory, concentration, and fatigue.
  • Chest pain, also known as angina.
  • Chronic fatigue.
  • Weakness in the limbs or throughout the body.
  • Changes in skin color, particularly paleness or a bluish tint (cyanosis).
  • Thin, brittle, or slow-growing nails.
  • Digestive issues, including abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements.
  • Slower healing of wounds.

It's important to remember that these symptoms could be indicative of various health issues, not just poor circulation. Always consult with a healthcare professional if you notice these signs.

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The 5 Best Vitamins and Supplements for Blood Flow

If you do, indeed, have poor blood flow, these five supplements may be a promising next step:

1. Krill Oil

Krill oil is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that plays a significant role in promoting healthy blood flow. These polyunsaturated fats are renowned for their ability to aid in minimizing blood clot formation within blood vessels, resulting in smoother and more effortless blood flow throughout the body. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the reduction of blood pressure and inflammation, further promoting optimal circulatory health (1).

2. Niacin

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is another potent supplement that supports blood flow. Niacin operates by expanding blood vessels, a process that leads to improved circulation. It has also been found to effectively increase blood flow to the skin surface, facilitating the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells. Furthermore, niacin has been linked to the reduction of harmful cholesterol levels, potentially mitigating plaque accumulation and aiding in unrestricted blood flow (2).

3. L-Arginine

L-arginine is another highly effective blood flow supplement. This amino acid undergoes conversion into nitric oxide within the body, a molecule known for its remarkable ability to promote the expansion of blood vessels. This dilation, in turn, fosters enhanced circulation by facilitating smoother blood flow through the vessels (3). While L-arginine is naturally present in your diet, supplements can serve as a beneficial complement.

4. Garlic

Garlic is a standout food that’s known for its significant contributions to circulatory health. Rich in compounds like allicin and ajoene, garlic can stimulate the production of nitric oxide, similar to L-arginine. This nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, helping to relax and widen blood vessels, ultimately helping improve blood flow. Plus, garlic's anti-inflammatory and anti-platelet properties may help prevent the formation of clots, ensuring smoother blood circulation (4).

5. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba, an herbal supplement extracted from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree, has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. One of its most notable benefits is its ability to enhance blood flow, particularly to the brain (5). If you take blood thinners and/or anti-depressants, be sure to consult with your healthcare provider before including Ginkgo Biloba in your diet, as this herb may interact with your medication.

It is always a good practice to consult with your healthcare practitioners—including your pharmacist—before implementing a supplement to ensure that there are no contraindications.

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Lauren Manaker
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Lauren Manaker

Lauren Manaker is an award-winning registered dietitian (RDN), certified lactation educator (CLE), author, and speaker with over 20 years of experience. She earned her BS in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida (go Gators!) and an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University in Chicago.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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