Nearly every type of cell in the human body produces nitric oxide and one of the most essential molecules for protecting the blood vessel. Nitric oxide increases the blood flow and reduces blood pressure. Supplements that increase nitric oxide in the body is one of today’s most common types of supplements. These Supplements produce chemicals the body can use them to make nitric oxide. Here are the health benefits of nitric oxide supplements.
May Lower Blood Pressure
People who have high blood pressure are considered having a disability in their bodies to use or produce nitric oxide. High blood pressure happens when your blood is constantly pushing too high against the walls of your arteries (1).
High blood pressure can lead to health problems like heart disease and kidney disease if not treated. A high-fruit and vegetable diet can decrease blood pressure and reduce the risk of diseases (2).
Nitrate is a compound found in spinach and dark leafy vegetables. The body converts it to nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to expand and decreasing blood pressure. Nitrate can help lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production (3).
In 13 studies analyzed, when participants took nitrate supplements, six found significant decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Another study of 43 studies found that the systolic and diastolic blood pressure of participants decreased by an average of 3.55 and 1.32 mm Hg, after following a high nitrate diet (7, 8).
Dietary flavonoid extracts can also improve blood pressure. Flavonoids have significant 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).
Nitrates, however, have more research to support their effectiveness of lowering blood pressure than flavonoids.
Can Boost Exercise Performance
It involves nitric oxide in many cell processes, including blood vessel expansion and vasodilatation. Wider blood vessels help to increase nutrient and oxygen distribution to work muscles during exercise, thus improving exercise performance.
This has made supplements of nitric oxide popular among athletes. Such supplements also contain many ingredients, such as nitrate or the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline, which can improve nitric oxide in the body.
This is because most of the L-arginine is absorbed, metabolized or broken down before entering the bloodstream, while L-citrulline is not. For this cause, L-citrulline is more active than L-arginine in exercise efficiency (15, 16).
May Help to Treat Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is an inability to get or sustain a sexually sufficient firm erection. L-citrulline is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide production and can help treat erectile dysfunction (17, 18).
This usually relaxes the muscles in the penis. This relaxation allows blood to the chambers inside the penis so that the penis can erect. In one study, they found 12 men with moderate erectile dysfunction enhanced erection hardness after taking L-citrulline (19, 20).
Studies show that L-citrulline is less active than prescription medicines for treating ED, such as Viagra. L-citrulline, however, has been shown well tolerated. There are 2 other nitric-oxide-boosting supplements that cure erectile dysfunction the amino acid L-arginine and Pycnogenol, a plant extract from the pine tree.
May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes
The production of nitric oxide in people with type 2 diabetes is impaired. It leads to poor health and blood vessels, which can eventually lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart disease (24).
Supplements that improve nitric oxide may have significant implications for treating diabetes. One study found that L-arginine increased the production of nitric oxide in people with type 2 diabetes (25).
The increase in nitric oxide has also resulted in increased resistance to insulin, allowing better control of blood sugar. Another 144 people study examined the impact of L-arginine on the prevention or delay of type 2 diabetes development (26).
While L-arginine is not essential in preventing diabetes, it can increase Insulin sensitivity. However, it is early to suggest that taking L-arginine supplements to treat diabetes until more research is available.
Can Decrease Muscle Soreness
Citrulline malate is a form of L- citrulline which can increase the production of nitric oxide and reduces muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is an uncomfortable experience that takes place after following intense or unusual exercise (27).
Referred to a delayed-onset muscle soreness, this soreness usually gets worst 24–72 hours after exercise. In one research, they randomized 41 individuals to either get 8 grams of citrulline malate or a placebo 60 minutes before conducting as many repetitions as possible on a flat barbell bench press (28).
Those who had citrulline malate reported a 40% less muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after the exercise compared to those who had taken a placebo. Citrulline malate increases the production of nitric oxide, which increases active muscle blood flow.
In addition, citrulline malate, such as lactate and ammonia, can improve nutrient distribution and specific waste products linked to muscle fatigue. A later study on the effects of citrulline after leg exercises, however, did not find citrulline malate effective for muscle soreness treatment (29, 30).
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 the previous study. Doses and exercise may depend on the ability of citrulline malate to decrease muscle soreness.
Potential Side Effects
Nitric oxide supplements are safe if taken in proper quantity. There are some side effects that someone should know. L-arginine can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea in doses above 10 grams.
Additives to beetroot juice can also transform your urine and stool into a black, red color. This is a common side effect, but harmless. Consult with your physician or dietitian before taking any drugs to improve nitric oxide.
The Bottom Line
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. Typically, they contain ingredients such as nitrate, L-citrulline, and L-arginine amino acids.
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