Developing Blood Circulation Products

April 17, 2008

5 Min Read
Developing Blood Circulation Products

When developing a product for blood circulation, a formulator must investigate all potential ingredients that have science to support blood circulation claims. While consumers want a product to help them with not just circulatory health, but circulatory disorders such as hypertension, stroke, varicose veins or atherosclerosis as well, companies cannot make claims related to diseases or chronic health conditions. Formulations should therefore be built to support a particular body system or blood vessels. Such products will likely attract middle aged or older individuals who have a need to improve circulation.

Improved blood circulation is important for individuals who are at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) or have elevated cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. Smokers need better blood flow since they have a greater risk of inflammatory blood vessel disorders, along with blood vessel constriction and spasms of the lower extremities. In addition, those with varicose veins have reduced blood circulation since there is a reduction of elasticity in the vein walls.

Nutrients that can improve overall blood circulation and blood vessel health likely have several beneficial effects including antioxidant properties, inhibiting platelet aggregation, increasing blood flow, increasing nitric oxide (NO) levels to help enhance vasodilation, and supporting healthy blood pressure levels.

It is helpful before starting product development to review research on vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and specialty ingredients used in clinical trials for conditions such as atherosclerosis or varicose veins. Compounds that also have antioxidant properties are a plus, since they help to reduce oxidative damage to blood vessel walls and endothelial tissue. Improving the cardiovascular system translates to more oxygen and nutrients circulating to all parts of the human body.

A Circulatory Development

There are a number of ingredients worthy for blood circulation formulations. Vitamin E has benefits for cardiovascular health because of its antioxidant properties and ability to inhibit platelet aggregation. Price often causes companies to restrict the amount and form of E used in formulations. However, the more expensive natural form has demonstrated greater bioavailability.

Compounds such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC) and standardized extracts of horse chestnut, bilberry and butcher’s broom have research to demonstrate they help improve blood circulation and varicose veins. Also, garlic has been widely used for blood circulation formulations; however, generic garlic powder won’t necessarily have the same effects as the specialty garlic ingredients with research conducted on their health effects.

Ginkgo biloba is known for its benefits for blood circulation, especially to the brain. In addition, it has been tested in clinical trials on conditions such as intermittent claudication. Some companies restrict the use of high-quality extracts because they are trying to meet a particular price point for mass market. Although whole herb powders have actives and may demonstrate benefits, as a formulator, you most likely will not be able to find substantial research to support claims on raw botanical powders. Most clinical trials have used between 120 and 240 mg/d of ginkgo, standardized to 24 percent flavone glycosides and 6 percent terpene lactones.

The amino acid L-arginine is considered a precursor to NO, which causes blood vessel dilation, thereby promoting blood circulation. Arginine has been studied in congestive heart failure patients and those with angina. A small amount of scientific data suggests arginine may help regulate cholesterol levels and may inhibit platelet aggregation. It appears to be appropriate for blood circulation products, although there have been a few safety issues. For example, large doses of L-arginine may increase the risk of bringing the herpes simplex virus out of dormancy, manifesting in possible cold sores or genital herpes. In the case of L-arginine, it would be wise to inform customers of potential adverse effects.

Niacin is commonly used in blood circulation formulas because of its effect on increasing blood flow to the periphery. There is substantial research showing 3 g/d niacin can help lower cholesterol. Individuals who take large doses of niacin should be under the care of a health care practitioner because of the adverse effects. It has been suggested that 50 to 100 mg of niacin can cause flushing, nausea and gastrointestinal upset. Time-release niacin appears to be helpful in reducing skin flushing; however, there have been reports of liver problems associated with this form.

Blood circulation products can be quite successful when a product developer does a thorough investigation of ingredients to support blood flow and blood vessels. There are various nutrients worthwhile adding to a blood circulation formula, it just takes time and diligence in the investigation process

Judi Quilici-Timmcke, M.S., is president of Q-Tech Services Inc. (, a product formulation firm in the dietary supplement industry. She holds a master’s degree in dietetics/exercise physiology, and has worked previously as vice president of product development and research for Weider Nutrition- Specialty Market and as director of product development and research for Rexall Showcase International.


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