It is used as a preservative in food and beverages to prevent bacterial overgrowth, as well as in the preparation of other nitrogen-containing compounds.
Nitric oxide is produced to aid with the regulation of blood flow by interacting with your blood vessels.
Nitric oxide supplements are primarily used by fitness fanatics, and it is also used as the main ingredient in many other workout supplements, as it has the ability to reduce muscle fatigue during physical activity.
Nonetheless, nitric oxide is also used medicinally and can help to treat a number of medical conditions.
But it also holds many other health benefits that we will explore further. Of note, nitric oxide is often confused with laughing gas, which is called nitrous oxide.
How Is It Made?
One way your body makes nitric oxide is with the interaction of nitrates from foods consumed or sweat and L-arginine, which is an amino acid.
However, there are several other processes that can lead to the creation of nitric oxide.
The body uses this amino acid to create nitric oxide using the enzyme nitric oxide synthase.
This production process occurs primarily in the inner layer of blood vessels known as the endothelium by endothelial cells.
However, the amino acid is also produced by other types of cells.
Once made, nitric oxide moves from the inner layer of the blood vessels and into underlying smooth muscle cells, causing them to become relaxed and widened.
Nitric Oxide Benefits
Nitric oxide offers a host of potential health benefits.
Here are the most common reasons why your healthcare professional or gym trainer may recommend nitric oxide supplements:
1) Can Reduce Muscle Soreness
A study published by PubMed found that a supplement containing nitric oxide could reduce muscle soreness.
The compound has several effects, including relaxing blood vessels, improving oxygenation, reducing BP, and promoting muscle contractility.
It also increases the body’s ability to transport metabolic by-products.
Nitric oxide is an important factor in the body’s ability to contract and recover from intense exercise.
2) May Manage Erectile Dysfunction
In a scientific article published in 2005 by PubMed, researchers have concluded that nitric oxide can treat erectile dysfunction.
It is a multifactorial disorder that is associated with aging, organic diseases, depression, and a variety of psychological conditions.
Moreover, the process of penile erection is complex and involves a variety of neurotransmitters, hormonal inputs, and a neurovascular nonadrenergic mechanism.
Nitric oxide is thought to be one of the major vasoactive noncholinergic neurotransmitters, interacting with soluble guanylate cyclase and activating its own receptor.
Nitric oxide induces a physiological response in the penile erectile process through the activation of guanylate cyclase (GTC).
This enzyme reduces intracellular calcium, which is a major factor in the maintenance and development of erections.
NO is also known to stimulate nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), which is a component of the erectile process.
3) Lower Blood Pressure
Studies have shown that nitric oxide can lower BP in a variety of conditions, including prehypertension and hypertension, by preserving blood vessel health.
The results of one recent study suggest that increasing nitric oxide levels can improve both physical and mental functioning, making nitric oxide quite beneficial for cardiovascular protection.
A study of 30 patients with prehypertension and hypertension performed by Fried SK and Jobgen WS randomized participants to receive nitric oxide or a placebo.
So, while NO is not directly involved in lowering BP, it certainly helps lower it, making it a key contributor to good heart health.
4) Boost Exercise Performance
There are some definite signs that nitric oxide can boost physical activity performance, as earlier studies on exercise-induced proteinuria in rats showed that NO can boost exercise performance.
Moreover, nitric oxide production inhibits prostaglandin production and reduces aerobic energy turnover.
Prostaglandin may cause inflammation and other issues.
Because nitric oxide production causes dilated blood vessels, it means more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles during a workout.
Consequently, nitric oxide supplementation facilitates enhanced performance, which is why fitness fanatics use supplements with the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline.
This works for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise sessions.
5) Can Help Control Type 2 Diabetes
Researchers from the University of Florida think that nitric oxide could help people with type 2 diabetes.
This chemical facilitates nerve signal processing in the body.
The role of nitric oxide in diabetes and health is unclear, and research on nitric oxide’s role in cardiovascular, renal, and diabetes control is conflicting.
In a study in diabetic rats, nitric oxide decreased isoprostane excretion.
These results suggest that nitric oxide inhibits superoxide, a mechanism that is believed to increase BP in diabetics.
How to Increase Nitric Oxide Naturally
1) Reduce salt intake
If you want to produce more nitric oxide, you need to reduce your salt intake.
Studies have shown that people who are sensitive to salt have lower levels of this compound.
If you don’t want to add additional salt to your diet, you should cut down on processed meats.
You can replace salt with miso paste.
2) Eat watermelon
Also, try eating more watermelon to increase nitric oxide levels.
Watermelon contains citrulline, which is converted to the amino acid L-arginine and helps increase nitric oxide production in the body.
3) Eat more veggies
Eating plenty of vegetables is another way to boost your nitric oxide levels.
Vegetables are a great source of dietary nitrates, as well as other important antioxidants.
Eating plenty of fresh vegetables is an excellent way to boost nitric oxide levels in your body. For best results, use organic vegetables and fruits in your diet.
Believe it or not, exercise is another effective way to boost nitric oxide levels.
You should aim to get at least thirty minutes of physical activity at least three times a week.
Ideally, you should mix aerobic exercises with anaerobic training to produce nitric oxide. Make sure you find an exercise you enjoy.
Although your body produces nitric oxide, a lack of it can cause many diseases.
Therefore, it’s crucial to maintain optimal levels of this compound to ensure your overall health and wellness.
Potential Side Effects of Nitric Oxide Supplements
Although anecdotal evidence supports the use of nitric oxide supplements, there are some serious side effects to watch out for.
People with cirrhosis, a condition where the liver has no ability to break down arginine into creatine, should use nitric oxide supplements with caution.
Furthermore, people with a rare genetic disorder called guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency should avoid taking nitric oxide, which can worsen liver function.
Some people with high blood pressure may also experience a decrease in nitric oxide levels. And doctors advise caution before surgery or undergoing major medical procedures.
Using more nitric oxide than you actually need may cause a variety of side effects, ranging from increased risk of stroke and heart failure to irritability and insomnia.
Some people report improving energy levels and improved quality of life. And there are also some potentially harmful side effects, so be sure to do your own research before taking nitric oxide supplements.
Some nitric oxide supplements may interfere with medications you are taking for high BP or diabetes. Before taking a nitric oxide supplement, check with your doctor if you have any preexisting medical conditions. The risk of a side effect is small, and it is unlikely to significantly limit your enjoyment of life. The main concern, however, is that they may interfere with the effectiveness of your current medications.
Nitric oxide is a chemical compound produced naturally by many cells throughout the human body.
However, the body does not produce a sufficient amount; as such, you can augment the body’s natural ability to produce nitric oxide by using supplements or consuming foods that contain dietary nitrate.
Furthermore, there are many health benefits to be derived from NO, including improved blood flow, improving exercise performance, and combating cardiovascular disease.
Regardless of these benefits, you should not overconsume nitric oxide supplements or dietary nitrates, as this can lead to numerous side effects.
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