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Nitric Oxide (NO) Boosters: What are they and How do they work?

For a long time, researchers and nutritionists did not pay much attention to nitric oxide. Scientists have long understood that we exhale small quantities of nitric oxide, and it is a significant pollutant for automobiles and industry. Since it is a small molecule and dissipates so quickly, researchers did not think the benefits of nitric oxide were worthy of much attention.  

This began to change in the 1980s and 1990s when scientists discovered there were some important benefits to nitric oxide. In 1998, the benefits and physiological significance of nitric oxide were fully identified, and the team of researchers who described these benefits were given a Nobel Prize for their discoveries.  

It is now known that there are crucial benefits to nitric oxide. It is essential to the cardiovascular system. Nitric oxide helps maintain the health of your blood vessels and it regulates blood pressure. Still more benefits of nitric oxide are that it plays an important role in the immune system and the nervous system. 

The benefits of nitric oxide have turned out to be so important that researchers are now studying nitric oxide as a potential treatment for things like cancer and inflammation. 

What are the benefits of nitric oxide? How do you include nitric oxide supplements in your workout plan? What are the best ways to take nitric oxide? Are there natural forms of nitric oxide? This guide will give you all the information you need to include nitric oxide in your health and fitness regimen. 

What Is Nitric Oxide? 

Nitric oxide is synthesized in the body from a specific amino acid called l=-arginine. It functions primarily as a neurotransmitter. Once it is produced, nitric oxide diffuses rapidly across cell membranes. As a neurotransmitter essential to cell function, it plays a critical role in the function of synapses. In essence, nitric oxide is a chemical that helps your nervous system function with other biological systems in your body.  

How Do We Produce Nitric Oxide?

While nitric oxide is an exhaust product of fossil fuel production and use and insignificant concentrations, it is a dangerous pollutant, it is also a crucial component of human life. Nitric oxide is produced from the amino acid L-arginine with the help of a specific enzyme. This process occurs mainly in the inner blood vessels, called the endothelium. From here, nitric oxide is diffused to underlying smooth muscle tissue which causes them to relax. From this process, blood vessels dilate or widen and this decreases blood pressure.  

Nitric oxide is also produced by neurons or nerve cells. When produced by neurons, nitric oxide plays a critical role in the nervous system and in neurotransmitters which regulate functions like memory, vision, and digestion. 

In the immune system, nitric oxide is produced in order to help create white blood cells. These engulf bacteria and destroy them. These same white blood cells are also capable of disrupting and destroying tumor cells.  

What Is The Best Nitric Oxide Booster?

As we can see, nitric oxide plays an important role across the body for some of the most essential physiological functions. From the brain to the immune system, nitric oxide is crucial. It stands to reason that increasing the levels of nitric oxide in the body will necessarily assist all of these processes. 

Nitric oxide and nutrients which boost the production of nitric oxide come in different forms. The two main sources of nutrients that help produce nitric oxide are L-arginine and L-citrulline. There are other sources also, but consider the breakdown below: 

L-Arginine

L-arginine is conditionally an essential amino acid. This means that we only need to get L-arginine in our diets under specific conditions. Most healthy adults can synthesize L-arginine naturally in the body. L-arginine produces nitric oxide through metabolic pathways called the L-arginine- NO pathway. 

It is well-known that L-arginine increases blood flow, but this seems to apply only to certain populations. People with high blood pressure, including pregnant women, can benefit from L-arginine since it reliably reduces blood pressure. 

There are mixed results from studies on L-arginine and blood flow production for exercise. While some healthy people saw significant improvements in blood flow from taking L-arginine supplements, others saw little or no measurable differences. However, the results do trend toward real benefit for increased blood flow during exercise by taking an L-arginine supplement.  

You can safely take up to 20 mg of L-arginine per day as a supplement for nitric oxide production. Yet, some people have experienced digestive problems after taking as little as 10 mg per day. 

L-Citrulline 

L-citrulline is referred to as a dispensable amino acid. This means our bodies are capable of producing all the L-citrulline we need. When L-arginine is metabolically converted into L-citrulline, the by-product of this biochemical reaction is nitric oxide. This is part of a metabolic cycle in which L- citrulline is converted back into L-arginine and the natural by-product is more nitric oxide. Increasing levels of L-citrulline can boost your body’s ability to produce more nitric oxide.

As a matter of fact, L-citrulline will increase levels of L-arginine in your body more than a simple L-arginine supplement can. L-arginine on its own tends to break down before all of it can be metabolized by your body.

Research shows that L-citrulline increases blood flow improves exercise, and can significantly improve overall performance. L-citrulline can also lower your blood pressure. 

More than L-arginine, L-citrulline appears to have no ill-effects and can be taken in high doses. 

Citrulline Malate 2:1 

L-citrulline malate increases plasma levels of two chemicals: ornithine and arginine. This improves ammonia recycling and leads to higher levels of nitric oxide. L-citrulline malate can be used to improve exercise performance and for cardiovascular health. Since it helps reduce blood pressure, citrulline malate is also effective in treating erectile dysfunction caused by high blood pressure.   

Some studies show that citrulline malate can reduce fatigue and improve endurance in both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.  

Citrulline malate does not appear to have any side effects even when taken in high doses. Unlike L-arginine, citrulline malate will not cause stomach upset or digestive problems. 

Beetroot Juice

Beetroot juice is often referred to as one of the superfoods. It can boost stamina and endurance for exercise and it may reduce blood pressure. Beetroot juice naturally contains the amino acids that convert into nitric oxide that help improve blood flow.

Beets naturally contain biologically active substances including betalains and inorganic nitrate. These chemical components increase the levels of nitric oxide in the body as much as ten-fold. Many of the benefits of taking the supplements detailed above can be derived from consuming all-natural beetroot juice. 

There are several commercial products, both juices, and powders, advertised as performance-enhancing legal nutrition supplements. The active ingredient is the inorganic nitrate (NO3−), which is reduced by bacteria in the salvia into nitric oxide (NO). Clinical studies suggest positive effects of increased NO levels on muscle efficiency and fatigue resistance.  

Nitric Oxide Benefits  

Boost Exercise Performance 

As we have seen, nitric oxide is important to a number of cell processes. Nitric oxide causes the widening of the blood vessels and vasodilation. Wide blood vessels can help deliver more oxygen to muscles during exercise and this improves endurance and exercise performance. 

Supplements that contain chemicals that improve the production of nitric oxide generally contain L-arginine or L-citrulline. These supplements have been clinically proven to improve performance in endurance athletes including cyclists and runners. 

Most studies show that L-arginine tends to break down before you get the benefits of taking supplements that rely primarily on L-arginine. Supplements that contain L-citrulline have been shown to be more effective in increasing exercise and athletic performance. 

Reduce Muscle Soreness

L-citrulline, specifically L-citrulline malate, is known to not only increase nitric oxide production but also decrease muscle soreness. 

The soreness that comes from exercise and exertion is called delayed-onset muscle soreness. It generally sets in 24-72 hours after exercise. A study in which people were given a supplement containing L-citrulline malate one hour before exercise found that people experienced 40 percent less soreness compared to a control group that was given a placebo.  

Citrulline malate increases nitric oxide production. This increases blood flow to muscles as they are actively worked in the course of exercise and athletic performance. Since citrulline malate helps deliver oxygen and clears waste products from the muscles and blood, it reduces the chemical demand on the muscle and clears the muscles of lactate and ammonia that cause soreness.  

Lower Blood Pressure 

High blood pressure occurs when the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your arteries remains consistently too high. One cause of high blood pressure is an impaired ability to use nitric oxide in the body. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and kidney disease. 

It is known that a diet consisting of large amounts of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for reducing blood pressure. This has led researchers to find the specific chemical components of fruits and vegetables that help contribute to lowering blood pressure. Nitrates are one of those chemicals. 

It turns out that supplements and foods that contribute to the production of nitric oxide help reduce blood pressure in people who have high blood pressure.  One particular study found that nitrate supplements that facilitate the production of nitric oxide saw patients experience significant reductions on the dangerous levels of their blood pressure.  

Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection long enough for sex. The cause of ED was long thought to be psychological, but recent studies have found that there are physiological causes of ED.  

L-citrulline is one of the treatments for ED. Nitric oxide is one of the chemicals that causes the chambers of the penis to relax and fill with blood which causes an erection. In one study, 12 who suffered from mild erectile dysfunction men saw the improved hardness of the penis. 

While taking L-citrulline is still considered less effective than taking a prescription medication like Viagra, researchers still prescribe L-citrulline as a first-line treatment for ED. 

Another nitric oxide boosting supplement like L-arginine has also shown positive results in treating ED. L-arginine appears to be more effective in treating ED when it is combined with another chemical called pycnogenol which is derived from pine trees. There is abundant evidence that supplements that contain the combination of L-arginine and pycnogenol improved sexual function in men. 

All evidence suggests that both L-arginine and pycnogenol are completely safe as supplements. 

How to Naturally Boost Nitric Oxide

It is easy to boost your levels of nitric oxide from eating the right foods. Specifically, vegetables tend to contain high levels of chemicals that boost nitric oxide in your body. Some of the best common vegetables for nitric oxide are:

  • Celery
  • Cress
  • Chervil;
  • Lettuce
  • Beetroot
  • Spinach
  • Arugula

Many of us already eat at least a few of these vegetables with regularity. Simply bulking up on these common vegetables will provide a natural boost of nitric oxide. 

There are also some supplements that will increase your levels of nitric oxide. Supplements containing L-arginine and L-citrulline are widely available. As we saw above, those that contain L-citrulline tend to be the most effective since these will actually increase the levels of L-arginine in your body through the natural processes of the ammonia cycle of metabolism. 

NF Sports Beta-Alanine supplement is the best product to boost your nitric oxide levels for workouts and advanced athletic performance. This formula provides numerous benefits, but one of the things that mark the Beta-Alanine supplement is the substantial nitric oxide boost you can obtain and the increase in oxygen levels in your bloodstream. 

Wrapping things up

Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about nitric oxide is that it was not seen as a necessary part of metabolism and physiology until recently. Nitric oxide is now understood to play a crucial part in everything from brain function immune defense. 

Nitric oxide has also emerged as a major force in exercise and athletic training. As a supplement, or in natural forms, nitric oxide can significantly boost endurance and performance for athletes and people just interested in staying fit. Nitric oxide increases the levels of oxygen in your bloodstream while it also helps remove waste products that come from exercise. This not only increases performance levels, but it also decreases the soreness that comes with it. 

Nitric oxide also has some serious medical benefits. Since nitric oxide increases blood oxygen levels, it has been found to be effective in treating conditions like high blood pressure and some of the other conditions that are caused by high blood pressure such as erectile dysfunction. 

Far from being a waste product of other natural processes, nitric oxide is now recognized as a powerful and essential chemical for improved physiology and health.

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