Poor blood flow can cause many problems for both the gym and overall health.
In order for the body to send nutrients and oxygen to muscles, there needs to be healthy circulation. Without good circulation, recovery from training would be very poor and performance during exercise would be diminished. Circulation is also important for brain health, focus, performance during sex, testosterone, and almost every other function in the body.
There are several supplements which are able to improve blood flow and circulation. These are vitamin D, beetroot, vitamin C, black garlic, horse chestnut extract, and pine bark extract.
1. Vitamin D3
The number one supplement for better blood flow and circulation is vitamin D3.
Vitamin D directly affects blood flow by impacting the elasticity and “stiffness” of blood vessels. It does this through several mechanisms including having an indirect role in nitric oxide production and improving artery health.
A deficiency in vitamin D is associated with many problems including cardiovascular disease. This study states that low levels of vitamin D results in a higher risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease. A reason for this might be that vitamin D is involved in the production of the eNOS enzyme (endothelial nitric oxide synthase). This enzyme produces nitric oxide which can widen and relax blood vessels.
Another study on vitamin D found that vitamin D3 supplementation can promote vascular repair after injury. This study also found this and found that vitamin D3 could reduce atherogenesis, the buildup of fatty plaques in arteries.
While vitamin D can be received from sun exposure, not everyone lives in an ideal location for spending hours outside. Many people also have lower sensitivity to vitamin D from the sun or lack the bodily functions needed to convert the uv rays from the sun into D3. Because of these reasons, supplementing with vitamin D3 can be beneficial for improving circulation and blood flow.
A good place to buy supplemental vitamin D3 is this pack of 300 vitamin D3 softgels at Bulk Supplements.
2. Beetroot Extract
A second great supplement for better blood flow and circulation is beetroot.
Beetroot can improve blood flow and circulation by helping your body produce nitric oxide. It does by containing high amounts of nitrates. Among all vegetables and natural foods, beetroot contains one of the highest concentrations of nitrates.
This high nitrate concentration has multiple effects such as an increase in nitric oxide, lower blood pressure, and more efficient cellular energy processes.
A study done on beetroot supplementation found that beetroot can improve cardiorespiratory endurance due to improved blood flow, mitochondrial efficiency, gas exchange, and stronger muscle contractions.
Beetroot can be eaten, juiced, or consumed as an extract.
For supplementation, a beetroot extract supplement can be found here: 500g of pure beetroot extract.
3. Vitamin C
The third best supplement for better blood flow and improved circulation is vitamin C.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, primarily increases blood flow through its antioxidation effects.
There have been several studies done on the impact of vitamin C on blood flow. One study found that vitamin C can lower the risk of hypertension and increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide. Another study found a positive effect on blood flow and a 200% increase in nitrite levels from vitamin C supplementation. A third study also found that vitamin C potentiates the synthesis of nitric oxide in endothelial cells.
These increases of nitric oxide from vitamin C will have a substantial positive effect on overall blood flow and circulation. Some foods that are high in vitamin C are plums, cherries, pepper, parsley, and spinach. If your diet is not able to fully supply vitamin C, you can also supplement.
For supplementing vitamin C, here is a good source for 500g of pure ascorbic acid powder.
4. Black Garlic Extract
The next supplement which can improve blood flow and circulation is garlic.
Garlic is able to improve blood flow by relaxing blood vessels due to allicin. Allicin is a compound in garlic with a large number of benefits including antioxidant and pulmonary vasodilation effects.
One study on garlic concluded that garlic is able to improve pulmonary artery flow. Another study found that garlic provided cardioprotection by improving the function of cardiac microvascular endothelial cells. The improved cardiac function results from widened, and relaxed blood vessels from allicin which allow for more efficient circulation.
The best kind of garlic to eat for improved circulation is black garlic. Black garlic is better than white garlic because it contains twice the amount of antioxidants and more amino acids while still having the same amount of allicin. Black garlic also has a more “earthy” taste and less of an odor.
For supplementing with black garlic this is a good source: 500g pure black garlic extract.
5. Horse Chestnut Extract
Another effective supplement to take for improving circulation and blood flow is horse chestnut extract.
Horse chestnut improves blood flow and overall vein health. Several studies done on horse chestnut found it able to improve blood flow enough to cure leg swelling and circulation-related pain.
To supplement with horse chestnut extract you could check out this product: 500g pure horse chestnut extract.
6. Pine Bark Extract
The final supplement which can improve circulation and blood flow is pine bark extract.
Pine bark extract has a positive effect on blood flow by enhancing nitric oxide production.
This study found that pine bark extract reduced deep-vein thrombosis. Another study found that after 2 weeks of pine bark extract supplementation, blood flow in those taking pine bark improved by 42%.
Pine bark extract is able to do this by widening and relaxing blood vessels due to an increased production in nitric oxide.
A good source for this supplement here: 500g pure pine bark extract.
The 6 best supplements for improving blood flow and circulation are vitamin D3, beetroot extract, vitamin C, black garlic extract, horse chestnut extract, and pine bark extract.
All of these supplements are natural and are able to improve blood flow and circulation. The best way to take any of these would be to start at a low dose then work up once you see how your body reacts. Extracts tend to be more potent than the foods themselves but both can be taken for the benefits relating to circulation and better blood flow.