Why Are Veins Blue?
Have you ever looked at the veins in your arms or legs and wondered, “If blood is red, why are my veins blue?”
You might be surprised to learn that veins aren’t blue. In fact, they’re mostly colorless. It’s the blood inside the veins that helps give them color. While all types of blood are shades of red, blood flowing through the veins has more of a bluish tinge because it lacks oxygen. Although blood in the arteries comes directly from the heart and is bright red, the blood in human veins has surrendered much of its oxygen to the tissues, which means it has a blue tinge as it returns to the heart.
Veins also appear blue because of how light interacts with the body and skin; it’s a trick that light plays on our eyes. The blood in your veins appears blue because you’re looking at them through layers of skin and fat, which absorb blue light. Subcutaneous fat only allows blue light to penetrate the skin to the veins, so this is the color reflected back to the retina (the part of the eye that sends visual information to your brain).
Now that you understand why veins are blue let’s talk about how to take care of them. Learn how to keep your veins healthy.
The important role veins play in the human body
The human body has about 60,000 miles of veins that carry blood, nutrients, and oxygen to every cell in the body. They have a big job to do. That’s why it’s essential to keep them healthy. When veins aren’t working properly, blood can collect and pool inside the vein, leading to varicose veins. Varicose veins are enlarged, twisty veins that sometimes bulge out of the leg. Here are a few things you can practice daily to improve your veins’ health:
Let’s get physical
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with varicose veins. If you have a desk job, get up once every 30 minutes and move your body. Short walks throughout the day will help with circulation and get the blood pumping. If you can’t take a walk or swap sitting for standing, try circulation exercises you can do at your desk, such as heel and toe raises, ankle rotations, and calf stretches.
Good foods only
Put down those processed snacks and reach for colorful fruits and green leafy vegetables instead. Fueling your body with plenty of nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants keeps your veins flexible and allows them to contract and dilate more easily, which means the blood flows properly. Don’t forget to add plenty of fiber; it’s a key nutrient for digestion and guards against excess abdominal pressure so your veins can flow freely from your torso to your lower extremities.
Just say no to chemicals
The chemicals in tobacco smoke can deoxygenate your blood and make it thicker, which decreases circulation and increases your risk for varicose veins and blood clots.
Dress to compress
If you have a family history or other risk factors of venous insufficiency, your doctor or vein care specialist may recommend medical-grade compression stockings. These stockings come in many different sizes and lengths to help contract muscles around the veins to help move blood back toward the heart. In addition to wearing compression socks, it’s a good idea to elevate your legs over your heart a few times a day to boost your circulation.
What to do if you experience symptoms of vein disease
If you’re experiencing any vein issues, such as heaviness or swelling, ask your healthcare provider to refer you to a Center for Vein Restoration location near you for expert care and treatment. Our specialists are skilled and experienced in safely treating several vein problems like spider veins, varicose veins, venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and more.
About Lawrence Markovitz, MD
Dr. Markovitz is a board-certified thoracic surgeon and past president of Virginia Vein Care. He now proudly serves as a physician with Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) with locations in McLean, Virginia, and Purcellville, Virginia. Citing “CVR’s reputation as a large, excellent vein care provider,” Dr. Markovitz is thrilled to help as many people as possible suffering from the discomfort of vein disease.