Nitric oxide is produced by nearly every type of cell in the human body and is one of the most important molecules for cardiovascular health. It relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels, causing the vessels to widen. Supplements that relax artery walls are known as vasodilators. Vasodilators like nitric oxide increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. Today nitric oxide supplements make up one of the most popular supplement categories in cardiovascular health. However, these supplements don’t contain nitric oxide itself. They contain compounds that your body can use to make nitric oxide. This has have been shown to provide many benefits for an individual's health and performance.
The two most common nitric oxide supplements on the market today are L-arginine and L-citrulline. Both of these are amino acids. If you remember from high school amino acids are the building blocks for life. Both l-arginine and l-citrulline are naturally found in red meat, dairy products, poultry, and fish. Manufacturers produce these amino acids in many different forms in a laboratory. You will find them as a pill, powder, or cream and even in a liquid. Foods that are high in L-citrulline include meat, nuts, legumes, and watermelon, to name just a few. Most people typically consume about 5 grams (g) of L-arginine per day without supplementation. The body converts both l-arginine and l-citrulline into nitric oxide for use in various body functions.
Enhancing Blood Flow
Because nitric oxide supplements enhance blood flow, researchers have conducted studies to determine if it could enhance blood flow for people with erectile dysfunction (ED). According to an article in the journal Future Science OA, some studies have shown taking nitric oxide may reduce ED in those with mild to moderate ED. A recent study did show that L-arginine supplements might enhance the effects of a common erectile dysfunction drug, but studies on people without a dysfunction is limited, so general benefits aren’t totally known.
Beet Juice Increases Nitric Oxide
Beetroot juice is full of nitric oxide, and there is research to show that drinking it before a competition can help with performance. One study found cyclists who drank beetroot juice two to three hours before exercise increased peak power and pedalling velocity.
Nitric oxide can also be increased by eating leafy greens and other vegetables rich in nitrates. Vegetables that are rich in nitrates are associated with increasing higher nitric oxide levels in the body. Vegetables with the highest nitrite contents are beets, celery, chard, watercress, lettuce, spinach, and arugula. Other notable mentions include cucumber, celeriac, Chinese cabbage, endive, fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, and parsley.
Consuming nitrates through food is usually best. Research on beet juice and beet powder shows the best success in improving exercise performance and heart health takes about 2 weeks.
Your Body Makes Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide is made by the blood vessels’ lining of your body. Scientists refer to the inner lining of blood vessels as the endothelium. The endothelium is very sensitive to the physical and chemical conditions inside our blood vessels walls. When the endothelium senses heart-healthy conditions, such as physical activity and low cholesterol, it releases more nitric oxide.
On the other hand, when the endothelium senses problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, or emotional distress, it releases less nitric oxide. This increases atherosclerosis (heart disease). So keeping a healthy lifestyle is very important to the health of our cardiovascular system.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity have been shown to cause chronic arterial injury. This due to a decrease in nitric oxide release and an increase in inflammation. Inflammation is a natural response when we are injured, for instance, or when we have a virus or an infection. The body responds by rushing white blood cells to the area to begin damage control. Scar tissue is accelerated, which heals cuts and scrapes.
N.O. One of the Most Important Molecules
“Nitric oxide (N.O.) is one of the most important molecules in our body, particularly in cardiovascular medicine,” says James Rippe, MD, cardiologist, and founder and director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute in Celebration, Fla. In fact, the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to a group of scientists who discovered that nitric oxide plays a pivotal role in heart function.
Supplements may be helpful. As we get older, our ability to convert nitrates into nitric oxide becomes less efficient. Getting regular aerobic exercise helps, as it improves the conversion process and boosts natural nitric oxide production. Spending time outside in the sun can also increase nitric oxide levels and lower blood pressure, according to a British study.
Whatever choice you decide upon, whether to increase nitric oxide production or not, this truly is an important molecule for health and well-being. The optimal solution to staying healthy is living a healthy lifestyle that includes eating veggies high in nitrates. For those with cardiovascular issues, a nitric oxide supplement may be just what is needed while you work on that healthy lifestyle. We have seen tremendous results with 2 products, Cardio for Life and Cardio Cocktail. Both of these supplements have a synergistic blend to provide your body with what it needs to keep nitric oxide at optimal levels!
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