Nitric oxide is found in almost every cell in the human body and is an essential molecule for regulating blood vessel health. As a vasodilator, nitric oxide relaxes the inner muscles in blood vessels, so they widen. Supplements that increase nitric oxide are a popular choice today for their multiple benefits, including boosted exercise performance and lowered blood pressure.
Improves Exercise Performance
Nitric oxide works tirelessly to support the growth of our cells, including widening blood vessels through vasodilation. When a blood vessel widens, it is easier for them to travel throughout the body to your brain, organs, and muscles. Oxygen can also travel through these tubes and into the muscles during exercise to improve performance during a workout.
The supplements often contain amino acids like L-citrulline and L-arginine, which improve the use of Nitric oxide (read more here). Nitric oxide is proven to improve endurance in cardio exercises like swimming, biking, and running. L-citrulline is more effective than L-arginine at this task because L-arginine is mostly metabolized before reaching the bloodstream.
Lowers Blood Pressure
It’s possible that people with high blood pressure could have fewer nitric oxide molecules in their bodies. There are multiple reasons why someone could have high blood pressure, but a nitric oxide supplement can help individuals who don’t suffer from heart-related complications. Researchers have found that nitric oxide found in any state can improve our overall health.
For example, nitrate, a compound found in leafy greens and beetroots, can convert into your body and form nitric oxide. Flavonoids, another component found in leafy greens and fruits, also increase nitric oxide production and lower blood pressure. Finding a supplement that has both nitrate and flavonoids can maximize the blood-pressure-lowering effects found in nitric oxide.
Decrease Muscle Pain
The L-citrulline found in many nitric oxide supplements can decrease muscle soreness or pain that’s associated with muscle stress from a workout. While it can’t reduce pain in patients with chronic pain, it can delay-onset muscle soreness that usually occurs 24-72 hours after a workout. You can receive 40% less soreness after 24 hours if you take nitric oxide.
Citrulline increases nitric oxide production and helps open blood vessels to let more oxygen through, therefore reaching sore muscles at a faster rate. However, the effectiveness of citrulline is determined by the dose of the supplement and not by the molecule in general. You may have to take an extra supplement if you’re not noticing relief in 48 hours.
Could Treat Erectile Dysfunction
As mentioned, nitric oxide can open up blood vessels so oxygen and blood can travel faster through the body. Since nitric oxide is capable of administering blood to different parts of the body quicker, it can treat erectile dysfunction in mild cases. As another positive, nitric oxide is required to relax the muscles in the penis, so it fills with blood and makes it erect.
It’s possible that L-citrulline can improve erection hardness, but nitric oxide isn’t as effective as sildenafil, a stimulant found in Viagra. Still, L-citrulline is a safe way to experiment with drugs that treat erectile dysfunction because there are minimal side effects associated with this supplement. If erectile dysfunction persists, make an appointment with your doctor.
Possibly Help With Type 2 Diabetes
Blood sugar control is a significant problem with people who have type 2 diabetes and is often treated through lowering insulin with medication and proper diet. However, there is a substantial link between nitric oxide and type 2 diabetes because the disease impairs this molecule's production. This could result in kidney disease and high blood pressure if not resolved.
Taking a nitric oxide supplement can increase this molecule's production and help prevent diseases related to poor blood vessel health. L-arginine can actually delay the progression of type 2 diabetes because it increases insulin sensitivity. There isn’t enough evidence to conclude nitric oxide's helpfulness, but taking a supplement couldn’t hurt.