• Nitric Oxide: The Basics

    The sports supplements business is teeming with ways to build muscle and improve performance, strength, and speed. Many products have been used for years and offer evidence supporting their use, while others are new and relatively unknown. What's more, the use of supplements has shown to be very particular to each individual's body composition as well as relative activity.

    So it can be tough to figure out what to take and how to take it. If you're looking to add supplements to your building routine, make sure to get educated on what's out there, the science behind it, and seek the advice of your physician before doing so. If you're wondering if nitric oxide can help your physique, here's some facts about it and what it can possibly do for you.

    WHAT IS IT?

    Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule found naturally in the body. It is released within the blood vessels whenever your body requires an increase in blood flow, as during exercise. Its main job is to help cells communicate. Specifically, it plays a key role in the following:

    • help memory and behavior by transmitting information between nerve cells in the brain

    • assist the immune system at fighting off bacteria and defending against tumors

    • regulate blood pressure by dilating blood vessels

    • reduce inflammation

    • improve sleep quality

    • increase your recognition of sense

    • increase endurance and strength

    • assist in gastric motility

    NO is biosynthesized from arginine and enzymes. This reaction then releases citrulline which helps make more NO.

    WHAT IT DOES

    For athletes, NO's most familiar function is its ability to increase blood flow by dilating blood vessels. Moreover, NO keeps the surface of the blood vessels smooth so platelets cannot bind together to form potentially dangerous clots. This dilation increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, theoretically allowing for better performance during a workout as well as faster recovery afterwards.

    HOW TO SUPPLEMENT

    Although many supplements out there are labeled Nitric Oxide, what they actually contain are a combination of the enzymes and amino acids that help your body synthesize the molecule. These include arginine and citrulline as well as BCAAs and glutamine.

    Additional ingredients you may want to look for in a NO supplement are antioxidants. Antioxidants play a key role in protecting the enzymes that facilitate the production of NO. Another way to increase nitric oxide is through diet, most notably by consuming foods known to contain the amino acids arginine and citrulline.

    • spinach

    • crab

    • turkey breast

    • shrimp

    • sesame seeds

    • watermelon

    Fruits, garlic, soy, vitamins C and E, Co-Q10, and alpha lipoic acid all contain natural antioxidants that can help maximize production of NO as well.

    Remember to seek the advice of your physician before taking any supplements.


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