In today’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle, leg circulation issues have become a common struggle for many individuals. With the demands of jobs confining them to extended periods of sitting, it is pretty challenging to find time to engage in exercise and activities that promote efficient blood circulation.
Fortunately, there are natural ways to promote healthy circulation, and one of them is through the use of vitamins. In this article, we will explore the best vitamins for leg circulation and how they can help enhance blood flow.
Do you have poor circulation?
Blood delivers oxygen and vital nutrients to cells, tissues, and organs throughout the body. Therefore, poor circulation causes a drop in blood, oxygen, and nutrient delivery to affected areas.
Poor circulation in your legs can cause symptoms like:
- Muscle cramping
- Cold feet
- Numbness and tingling
- Pain your legs when walking
- Swelling in your legs and ankles
- Dry skin, especially on the feet
- Hair loss on the legs
- Delayed wound healing
What can cause poor circulation in legs?
Poor circulation in the legs can be caused by various factors. Some common causes include:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Peripheral arterial disease
- Venous insufficiency
Top 4 Vitamins For Good Circulation in the Legs
- Vitamin C
One of the key functions of Vitamin C is its ability to strengthen the walls of blood vessels, making them more resilient and less prone to damage. Additionally, Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that combats oxidative stress and inflammation, which can contribute to poor circulation. Furthermore, Vitamin C plays a vital role in the production of collagen, a protein that provides structure and elasticity to blood .
✅ There is also clinical evidence that vitamin C is effective for improving peripheral blood flow by reducing oxidative stress and promoting collagen synthesis.
The vitamin C-rich foods you will want to include in your diet:
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are well-known sources of Vitamin C. Other options include strawberries, kiwis, bell peppers, and spinach. Alternatively, you can also consider taking Vitamin C supplements, especially if you struggle to meet your daily requirements through diet alone.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for regulating calcium and phosphorus levels which are crucial for proper muscle function, including the smooth muscles in blood vessels. Sufficient vitamin D allows for efficient muscle contraction and relaxation, which is necessary for maintaining proper blood flow throughout the body. Moreover, vitamin D decreases inflammation in the lining of blood vessels, thereby supporting healthy blood vessel function and improves circulation in the legs.
✅ Studies have also found that vitamin D insufficiency is associated with increased arterial stiffness and vascular endothelial dysfunction.
Where can you find vitamin D?
Sunlight is the primary source of vitamin D, as your body produces vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight. Foods like oily fish, liver, egg yolks, milk and fortified cereals also offer a good supply of vitamin D.
Supplementing with vitamin D may also be necessary, especially for individuals with limited sun exposure, and darker skin tones.
- B vitamins
Which B vitamins can help circulation?
Vitamin B3 also known as niacin is helpful for improving blood flow, by reducing inflammation, and reducing bad cholesterol levels.
On the other hand, vitamin B6 and B12, play a role in regulating homocysteine levels in the body. High levels of homocysteine can lead to inflammation and damage to blood vessels, negatively impacting circulation. By keeping homocysteine levels in check, B vitamins contribute to healthier blood vessels and improved leg circulation.
✅ A study published in AHA Scientific Journals stated that dietary supplementation with B vitamins improved vascular endothelial function and promoted blood flow by lowering plasma homocysteine.
Here are the foods to reach for to get these B vitamins.
- Vitamin B3: Fish (such as tuna and salmon), poultry (chicken and turkey), peanuts, mushrooms, and avocados.
- Vitamin B6: Chickpeas, bananas, salmon, chicken, spinach, and sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin B12: Shellfish (clams, mussels, and crab), lean meats (beef and lamb), dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt), and fortified cereals.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E helps improve blood flow by keeping blood cells and platelets from sticking together, which can lower the chance of a clot or blockage. On top of that, this antioxidant vitamin can also reduce inflammation within the blood vessels which can contribute to reduced blood flow and hinder proper circulation.
✅ A study published in Cochrane Library also suggested that Vitamin E may improve symptoms of intermittent claudication (i.e. pain caused by ischaemia in the muscles of the leg during exercise) by improving the blood flow.
Some excellent sources of Vitamin E include:
Nuts and seeds (such as almonds and sunflower seeds), spinach, broccoli, avocado, and olive oil.
- Vitamin K
Vitamin K may improve circulation by helping to maintain healthy blood vessels. It activates a protein called matrix Gla protein (MGP) that helps inhibit the calcification of blood vessels. This prevents the buildup of calcium deposits and reduces the risk of developing conditions like arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis, which can impede blood flow to the legs.
✅ A 2016 study found that a high dietary intake of vitamin K2 (menaquinones) was associated with a reduced risk of peripheral arterial disease by decreasing vascular calcification.
Here are some foods you can eat to get your vitamin K.
One of the best natural sources of Vitamin K is leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli. These greens are not only rich in Vitamin K but also provide a wide array of other essential nutrients that support overall health.
Other lifestyle Habits To Support Healthy circulation
In addition to circulation-friendly vitamins, there are also other helpful lifestyle tips to improve circulation in your legs.
- Stop smoking
Smoking damages the walls of your arteries and induces plaque formation. Consequently, the hardened and narrowed arteries due to plaque causes a significant decrease in blood flow.
- Start exercising
One of the best ways to improve circulation is to exercise regularly. Activities like walking, jogging, and cycling promote your blood flow, and reduce blood pooling in the leg veins.
- Control your body weight
Being overweight can make it difficult for you to get moving. Consequently, you can become more sedentary which results in poor circulation. Moreover, being overweight puts extra strain on your leg veins, increasing the likelihood of bulging veins and blood clots.
Compression stockings apply pressure to your lower legs, encourage blood flow towards the heart, and reduce venous pooling in the leg veins thereby reducing discomfort and swelling.
- Elevate your legs
Elevating your legs above your heart for at least 15 minutes a day will help to improve your circulation and reduce swelling in legs.
Do vitamins and supplements help with leg circulation?
It depends on the underlying cause of circulation problems.
Some people may be able to promote good circulation with healthy lifestyle changes, vitamins and supplements.
On the other hand, if the circulation problems are due to underlying conditions like peripheral artery disease (PAD), or arterial blockages, vitamins alone may not be sufficient to improve circulation. These conditions often require medical intervention, such as medications or surgical procedures, to improve blood flow and alleviate symptoms.
The bottom line
In conclusion, vitamins C, D, E, K, and B vitamins have been proven to be beneficial in improving leg circulation to some extent. Adequate intake of these vitamins will help you look after your circulatory health.
Nonetheless, they are not a standalone solution for all circulatory issues. So, if you are experiencing severe problems with leg circulation or have a diagnosed medical condition, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.