Do you suffer from pain, itching or swelling in your lower legs? Or maybe you notice dark and bulging veins?
This may be a sign of vein insufficiency or damaged vein valves. This condition occurs when there is insufficient blood flow from the legs to the heart and the blood pools in the lower extremities instead.
Venous insufficiency is most often caused by blood clots or varicose veins, also known as spider veins.
Symptoms may show up as pain, swelling, cramps, and skin changes.
Risk factors include:
- leg injury or trauma
- lack of exercise
- deep vein thrombosis
- high blood pressure
- blood clotting
- varicose veins
- family history
- sitting or standing for extended periods of time
Vein disease is also more common in women and among adults over the age of 50.
This condition can lead to unwanted symptoms such as bulging veins and restless, itchy, or swollen legs.
If left untreated vein disease can lead to bigger complications such as blood clots and leg ulcers. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to improve your symptoms. Standard management for vein insufficiency may include compression stockings and exercise.
There are also certain vitamins and dietary supplements that can improve the health of the leg veins.
Best Vitamins for Improved Vein Health
Vitamin E provides powerful antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects and has been widely studied in the prevention of various cardiovascular diseases. Studies suggest it may play a role in vein health by regulating vascular smooth muscle contraction, increasing growth in vascular tissues, and protecting arterial health (1).
Vitamin E is required for the dilation of red blood cells and the prevention of clotting.
Vitamin E can help to improve blood flow and might also help to prevent the formation of blood clots that could result in venous thromboembolism (2). It may potentially help to reduce leg cramping and swelling and the appearance of spider veins.
You can obtain vitamin E from foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, vegetable oils, and leafy green vegetables, or from supplementation.
Consumption of vitamin E from food has not shown any health-related risks however excess intake of vitamin E in supplemental form can result in adverse effects. Vitamin E supplements also have the potential to interact with medications therefore it is recommended to discuss supplementation with your doctor to avoid any potential adverse experiences.
The B vitamins, and more particularly vitamins B6 and B12, play important roles in vein health, and may even help to prevent the development of varicose veins by decreasing the risk of blood clotting.
Vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 reduce homocysteine levels in the body, which when elevated are associated with heart disease and clotting problems (3).
In addition, vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is well known for its cholesterol-modulating effects and improving blood flow (4). Niacin can improve the health of blood vessels by reducing inflammation, increasing blood vessel function, and lowering unhealthy cholesterol levels.
B vitamins can be found in many foods including fish, meat, liver, leafy greens, eggs, legumes, chicken, turkey, brown rice, lentils, bananas, whole grains, and molasses.
The B vitamins can be supplemented individually in the case of deficiency or as a B complex formula to cover all of your bases.
Vitamin K is an important nutrient for blood clotting, bone health, and heart health.
This vitamin has been linked to reduced varicose veins and better vascular health. Vitamin K can improve vein health by increasing nitric oxide and regulating endothelial function (5).
Research suggests that adequate intake of vitamin K may be a necessary preventative measure in the development of varicose veins (6).
Vitamin K is also said to strengthen blood vessels to prevent breakage and rupture and support good circulation in the body. As a result, it can improve the appearance of skin conditions including spider veins and varicose veins.
There are two forms of vitamin K: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is found primarily in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale.
Vitamin K2 on the other hand is produced by gut bacteria and is found mainly in fermented foods and animal products like natto, cheese, meat, and egg yolks.
Always consult with your healthcare provider before supplementing as vitamin K can interact with certain medications.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant vitamin known to fight oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
Inflammation can weaken the walls of blood vessels and restrict blood flow, which can damage tissues and increase the risk of blood clotting.
Vitamin C can improve the health of the veins by promoting collagen and elastin synthesis which are important proteins for maintaining healthy, strong and elastic blood vessels (7).
This can help to strengthen the lining of the veins and ensure proper blood circulation while reducing the likelihood of varicose veins and endothelial dysfunction (8).
Since the body can't synthesize vitamin C naturally, you must obtain it from your diet or supplementation. Vitamin C is found in a variety of plant foods such as berries, citrus fruits, brussels sprouts, broccoli, bell peppers, kiwi, cabbage, tomatoes, and potatoes.
Daily Multivitamins for Vein Disease
Certain vitamins can be particularly beneficial to support vein health and help to prevent cardiovascular complications. It's important to supplement with the appropriate nutrients and dosing especially when experiencing deficiencies.
However, multivitamins can prove to be useful to cover nutritional bases as a whole and boost your nutrient status as an addition to a healthy and balanced diet, and not as a replacement.
For many individuals, taking a multivitamin can help to provide a range of vitamins and minerals that support heart health and vein health and proper circulation in the body. If you're not sure if a multivitamin may be right for you, check with your doctor before supplementing as certain vitamins and minerals may interact with medications.
Supplements for Vein Disease
Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is made from the seeds of wine grapes and displays impressive antioxidant activity, providing more antioxidants than vitamin E and vitamin C. Studies suggest that it may help with symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency and reduce leg swelling (9).
Its beneficial health effects are largely associated with its anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, anti-necrotic, cardiovascular and anti-carcinogenic properties as well as its ability to positively impact wound healing (10). Its potent antioxidant properties help to protect tissues and cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress.
Studies have demonstrated specific compounds present in Grape Seed Extract decrease the endothelial contraction of vessels, activate nitric oxide production, and prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation (11).
Grape seed extract treatment can specifically aid wound healing by regenerating damaged blood vessels and increasing the quantity of free radicals present at the wound site which supports the formation of connective tissue and new blood vessels (12).
Gotu Kola is a herb native to India, Southeast Asia, and Africa and has been used in traditional Ayurvedic, African and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Its beneficial compounds can help in wound healing, improved circulation, and reduction of pain and swelling in the joints and legs (13)(14).
It is used to treat various health conditions including symptomatic varicose veins. Gotu Kola has specific properties that stimulate collagen and elastin production (15). These proteins are used to protect blood vessels from damage, strengthen vein walls, support blood circulation, and maintain healthy skin through the aging process.
Gotu Kola may help with venous insufficiency by increasing blood flow, reducing swelling in the legs, and strengthening weakened veins (16)(17).
A study that followed participants taking Gotu Kola before a flight found that ankle swelling and edema were significantly lower among the group that supplemented compared to controls suggesting Gotu Kola may be a potential natural preventative treatment for issues associated with microcirculation (18).
Horse chestnut extract
Horse chestnut extract is commonly used to improve vein health and has been widely studied in the treatment of vein insufficiency.
It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce varicose veins by improving blood flow in the legs and decreasing leg pain and swelling (19).
Its anti-inflammatory effects are mainly associated with the active compound Aescin, found in Horse chestnut extract.
Clinical trials assessing the efficacy of horse chestnut in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency found an overall improvement in leg pain, fluid retention, lower leg volume and itchy legs among participants (20)(21). One clinical trial also suggested that it may be just as effective as compressive stocking (22).
Horse chestnut extract appears to be a short-term treatment option in patients with mild to moderate chronic venous insufficiency and it is generally well tolerated (23). This herb may interact with certain medications such as anticoagulants and anti-diabetics thus supplementation should be discussed with your doctor.
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