Blood delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. Circulation problems can lead to cold hands and feet, muscle cramps, or tiredness.

Poor circulation can also slow down wound healing, increasing the risk of infection.

No supplement can cure circulation problems, but people may find they help with the symptoms. However, this depends on the root cause and their unique circumstances. Some people may require medications to help widen blood vessels or manage underlying conditions.

Read on to learn more about supplements for better circulation.

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Impaired circulation can cause many symptoms, such as:

However, these symptoms can also result from many other health conditions. People should see a doctor for a diagnosis if they think they have poor circulation, any other new or unexplained symptoms, or another long-term condition, such as diabetes.

Learn more about the symptoms of poor circulation here.

Supplements are not a treatment for circulation problems. However, they may help with symptoms for some people or generally support cardiovascular health.

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a compound that exists in chili peppers, such as cayenne. One of its uses in traditional medicine is improving circulation.

Few studies have examined if capsaicin is an effective treatment for circulation problems. However, scientists believe it may be a vasodilator, which means it dilates or opens up blood vessels due to its influence on TRPV1 receptors. According to animal studies, these receptors influence vasodilation.

However, should be aware that capsaicin can cause side effects, even in small doses. These include:

  • stomach pain
  • burning sensations
  • nausea
  • bloating

High doses may carry serious risks, particularly for people with heart conditions.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are Omega-3 fatty acids that encourage the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through them.

Some research suggests that this and Omega-3’s anti-inflammatory effects may improve the function of the cells inside blood vessels, encouraging proper dilation. This may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people who are at risk, such as those who smoke or have a high body mass index (BMI).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people take no more than 5 g per day of EPA and DHA combined from dietary supplements.

Beetroot powder

Red beetroot powder contains nitrates, which are compounds that the body converts into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood they can carry.

A small 2017 study of 12 participants ages 57–71 years looked at this effect. The results showed that those who drank 140 milliliters (ml) of nitrate-rich beetroot juice had significantly reduced blood pressure and blood vessel inflammation 3 hours later compared with those who drank a placebo.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, or niacin, is a vitamin that doctors sometimes prescribe for lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. One potential side effect is flushed skin, which suggests it is a vasodilator.

There is not much evidence vitamin B3 directly helps with the ongoing management of circulation problems, but it does support cardiovascular health in general.

The upper limit of daily B3 for adults is 35 mg per day. It can be toxic in high doses.

L-arginine

L-arginine is a semi-essential amino acid present in some meats and nuts. A 2018 study suggests that l-arginine may help release nitric oxide in combination with folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

The study looked at 80 adults, ages 40–65 years, with mild to moderately high blood pressure. The participants took 2.4 g of l-arginine, 3 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B6, 0.4 mg of folic acid, and 2 micrograms of vitamin B12.

After 3 months, those taking the supplements experienced significant improvements in blood vessel health and a reduction in blood pressure compared with those who took a placebo. However, taking l-arginine alone did not produce any change.

Garlic

Garlic contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, such as allicin, which may help relax and widen blood vessels.

In a 2017 randomized, placebo-controlled trial, adults with coronary artery disease consumed either garlic powder or a placebo twice daily for 3 months.

The garlic powder improved blood flow in the upper arm compared with a placebo. However, the results were not statistically significant. More research is necessary to determine if garlic is beneficial to blood flow.

Curcumin

Curcumin is a naturally occurring substance that is present in turmeric. It is a phenol, which is a type of antioxidant.

In a 2017 study, 39 middle-aged and older adults consumed either 2,000 mg of curcumin daily or a placebo for 12 weeks. Those who took curcumin experienced an improvement in elements of blood vessel functioning.

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

There is no guarantee that supplements will help with circulation problems. The evidence supporting some supplements is weak.

Whether a supplement helps also depends on the underlying cause of the circulation problems. For example, if a person is low in B vitamins, taking them may help improve blood flow. Others may need to take steps to prevent or control underlying diseases.

People can speak with a doctor to better understand their condition and what might be causing it. They can also make recommendations based on a person’s overall health, age, lifestyle, and other factors.

It is important to note that the FDA does not regulate supplements, and some may be harmful. Always check with a doctor before trying one.

Lifestyle adjustments may help improve circulation. It may help to:

  • exercise regularly
  • eat a balanced diet
  • stay hydrated
  • reduce or manage stress
  • get massages
  • quit smoking

Several supplements may help improve circulation. Substances such as capsaicin, beetroot powder, and Omega-3 fatty acids may help dilate blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Others may help maintain the health of blood vessels.

However, much of the research is preliminary, so there is no guarantee any supplement will directly improve blood flow. Supplements can also cause side effects and drug interactions.

Supplements are not an appropriate treatment option for some people with circulation issues. Anyone with circulation problems should speak with a doctor to get expert advice and to check that a supplement is safe for them.