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Health Benefits of Nitric Oxide Supplements

Every type of cell in the human body produces nitric oxide, which is one of the most essential molecules for protecting blood vessels.

Nitric oxide is a molecule important for proper blood flow, which can prevent high blood pressure.

However, supplements that increase nitric oxide in the body are one of today’s most common types.

These supplements provide chemicals to the body to make nitric oxide.

People with high blood pressure may have an impaired ability to produce nitric oxide because of other underlying health problems (1, 2).

These are the health benefits of supplements that increase nitric oxide production within the body.

May Lower Blood Pressure

High blood pressure happens when your blood is pushing too hard against the walls of your arteries. It can lead to various health problems, such as heart disease and kidney disease.

Evidence shows that adding fruits and vegetables to your diet can decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of disease (3).

Nitrate is a compound in spinach and dark leafy vegetables.

The body converts this compound to nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to expand and decrease blood pressure (4, 5, 6).

A systematic review and meta-analysis found that nitrate supplements decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure (7).

Another study found that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants decreased by an average of 3.55 and 1.32 mm Hg, respectively, after following a high nitrate diet (8).

In addition, dietary flavonoid extracts can also improve blood pressure. Flavonoids have antioxidant effects and are present in every fruit and vegetable.

Scientists believe that flavonoids not only increase nitric oxide production but also reduce breakdown, encouraging overall higher rates (9, 10, 11, 12).

To compare nitrate with flavonoids, nitrate has more research to support its effectiveness in lowering blood pressure than flavonoids.

Can Boost Exercise Performance

Nitric oxide regulates many cell processes, including blood vessel expansion and vasodilatation. Wider blood vessels help to increase nutrient and oxygen distribution to the muscles during exercise, thus improving energy and exercise performance.

This has made nitric oxide supplements popular, and athletes are aware of their benefits.

These supplements contain many ingredients, such as nitrate or the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline, which can increase nitric oxide in the body.

According to various studies, nitrate can improve exercise performance in cyclists and swimmers (13, 14).

L-arginine has not proved to be effective in improving exercise performance (15, 16, 17).

Most of the L-arginine is absorbed, metabolized or broken down before entering the bloodstream, while L-citrulline is not (18).

For this purpose, L-citrulline is more active than L-arginine in exercise efficiency (19).

May Help to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or sustain a sufficiently firm erection (20). L-citrulline is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide production and can help treat erectile dysfunction (21).

This relaxes the muscles in the penis. This relaxation allows blood to flow to the chambers inside the penis so that the penis can erect (22).

In one study, they found 12 men with moderate erectile dysfunction had enhanced erection hardness after taking L-citrulline (23).

Studies show that L-citrulline is less active than prescription medicines for treating ED, such as Viagra.

L-citrulline, however, has been shown to be well tolerated. There are 2 other nitric-oxide-boosting supplements which can treat erectile dysfunction: the amino acid L-arginine and Pycnogenol, a plant extract from the pine tree.

In several studies, a combination of L-arginine and Pycnogenol substantially improved sexual function in men with ED. L-arginine and pycnogenol also seems healthy when taken together (24, 25, 26, 27, 28).

May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

People with type 2 diabetes have an impaired ability to produce nitric oxide, which can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease (29).

Supplements that improve nitric oxide may provide benefits for people with diabetes. One study found that L-arginine increased nitric oxide levels in people with type 2 diabetes (30).

The increase in nitric oxide also resulted in increased insulin sensitivity, allowing for better blood sugar control.

Another study examined the effect of L-arginine on the prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes (31).

While L-arginine was not essential in preventing diabetes, it only increased insulin sensitivity.

However, it is too early to suggest that taking L-arginine supplements for diabetes treatment until more research is available.

Can Decrease Muscle Soreness

Citrulline malate is a form of L-citrulline that can increase nitric oxide levels and reduce muscle soreness.

Muscle soreness is an uncomfortable experience that takes place after a period of intense or unusual exercise (32).

Referred to as delayed-onset muscle soreness, this soreness gets worse 24–72 hours after exercise.

In one randomized study, 41 individuals got either 8 grams of citrulline malate or a placebo 60 minutes before performing as many repetitions as possible on a flat barbell bench press (33).

Those who had received citrulline malate reported 40% less muscle soreness 24 or 48 hours after exercise compared to those who had taken a placebo.

Citrulline malate increases nitric oxide, which increases active muscle blood flow. In addition, citrulline malate can improve nutrient distribution and specific body waste products linked to muscle fatigue, such as lactate and ammonia (34).

A study on the effects of citrulline after leg exercises, however, did not find it effective in preventing muscle soreness (35).

One reason for this variation in results is that they gave six grams of citrulline malate to the people in the leg exercise study, which is 2 grams less than in the previous study.

Dosage and exercise may depend on the ability of citrulline malate to decrease muscle soreness.

Potential Side Effects

Supplements are safe to improve nitric oxide levels (36, 37).

There are some side effects of L-arginine supplements, which can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea if taken in large doses above 10 grams (38).

To prevent side effects, taking them at the proper dosage is important. Consult with your physician or dietitian before taking any supplements to improve nitric oxide levels.

Conclusion

Nitric oxide is a chemical that plays an important role in body functions.

However, many supplements increase nitric oxide in the body and provide significant health and performance benefits.

These supplements contain ingredients such as nitrate, L-citrulline, and L-arginine amino acids.

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