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Is Nitric Oxide Good For Blood Pressure?

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Many are not aware of nitric oxide and the role it plays in the human body. This naturally occurring molecule impacts health in several ways.

However, today’s question is whether nitric oxide is good for blood pressure. The article will break down details about nitric oxide and the role it plays in human health.

What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nearly all the cells in the body produce nitric oxide naturally. It has an important molecule that affects multiple aspects of human health.

Its most important function is that of a vasodilator. A vasodilator relaxes blood vessels so that they widen. This results in improved blood flow.

The production of nitric oxide within the body is essential for maintaining overall health. It plays an important role in allowing nutrients, oxygen, and blood to efficiently and effectively reach every part of the human body.

The human body produces this molecule in several ways. The primary production method is through the conversion of a naturally produced amino acid known as L-arginine.

The second method is through the intake of dietary nitrates, meaning eating a diet rich in nitrates.

There are also nitric oxide supplements available in the market that boost the level in the body. However, they contain other ingredients, namely, L-arginine and L-citrulline. These amino acids convert to nitric oxide in the body.


Health Benefits Of Nitric Oxide

Maintaining proper levels of nitric oxide in the body is important since they play such a vital role in the body’s overall health and for living a longer, healthier life.

Nitric oxide is a biological regulator that has several known functions within the body.

It is involved in the functioning of the cardiovascular system, nervous system, renal system, immune system, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.

Studies have indicated that people who take nitric oxide supplements show certain health benefits. Among these benefits is the ability to enhance athletic performance and lower blood pressure.

Boost Athletic Performance

Nitric oxide is part of many cell functions, including vasodilation or the broadening of blood vessels. These widened blood vessels increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles during physical exertion such as exercise.

Additionally, since vasodilation relaxes the blood vessels, it improves blood flow. This translates into decreased demand on the skeletal muscles and the heart. It may also enable faster recovery and reduced muscle soreness.

These factors altogether contribute to better performance by the athlete or exerciser. For this reason, nitric oxide supplements have gained popularity among gym-goers and athletes.

These supplements do not contain nitric oxide. Instead, they contain a combination of ingredients that have been said to help produce nitric oxide, such as L-arginine, L-citrulline, or nitrate.

Studies have indicated nitrate to be effective in increasing exercise performance among swimmers, runners, and cyclists, whereas L-arginine is rather ineffective.

The likely reason is that the ingested amino acid gets metabolized before it can hit the bloodstream. So it does not contribute to the production of nitric oxide in the human body in the form of a supplement.

Lower Blood Pressure

The ability to use nitric oxide is thought to decrease in individuals with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure happens when the pressure of blood pushing against blood vessels is persistently higher than normal.

Individuals with high blood pressure are at higher risk for cardiovascular and renal health issues.

Studies have shown that people whose diet was high in vegetables and fruits were able to lower blood pressure. This led to in-depth research into the compounds present in these foods and their effect on the levels of blood pressure.

It was discovered that leafy greens and beetroot contained a compound called nitrate. The body converts consumed nitrate into nitric oxide. This, in turn, results in relaxation and dilation of blood vessels, thus decreasing blood pressure.

Multiple studies have suggested that the ability of nitrate to produce nitric oxide may be helpful in lowering blood pressure.

There have also been studies that have shown significant reductions in blood pressure among participants that consumed nitrate supplements.

In addition to nitrate, flavonoids have also shown effectiveness in improving blood pressure.

These compounds are present in nearly all vegetables and fruits. They boast strong antioxidant effects.

It is believed that these compounds help boost the production of nitric oxide and limit its breakdown at the same time. This promotes increased levels overall.

However, when comparing nitrates and flavonoids, research supports nitrates over flavonoids for improving blood pressure.

Other Potential Health Effects

Besides contributing to lower blood pressure and boosting physical performance, nitric oxide may also play a role in managing type 2 diabetes.

People suffering from type 2 diabetes have a restricted production of nitric oxide. This impairs blood vessel health and can result in high blood pressure, heart disease, and renal disease over time.

Therefore, an increase in nitric oxide may help in disease prevention and the possible treatment of diabetes.

However, more research into the area is required before recommendations can be made.


How To Get Nitric Oxide Naturally?

Nitric oxide is not available in the free form in the human body because it is unstable. However, it forms a stable product through interaction with other molecules.

The molecule has a half-life of a millisecond. It is very short lived. Some external factors can alter levels of nitric oxide in the body, such as lack of sleep or improper diet.

Is Nitric Oxide Good For Blood Pressure?

Age also plays a role in the production activity. As we age, the levels of nitric oxide decrease in the body.

Therefore, it is necessary to keep up the optimal levels of this molecule in the body. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this naturally.

Nitrate-Rich Diet (Plant Based)

Certain vegetables are rich in nitrate. Consuming nitrate-rich plant food leads to the production of nitric oxide in the body.

High levels of nitrates can be found in cress, lettuce, celery, chervil, spinach, beetroot, and arugula.

Strong evidence suggests athletic performance improves with the consumption of nitrates, particularly beetroot.

However, some people fear nitrates and consider them harmful carcinogens. Nitrates by themselves are not harmful. However, they can combine with other molecules to form harmful compounds such as N-nitroso compounds.

Is Nitric Oxide Good For Blood Pressure

Another instance is that of sodium nitrate, which is used as a color fixative in hot dogs and as a preservative. Consumption of these foods has links to bowel cancer.

Fortunately, vegetables, which are responsible for the highest percentage of nitrate intake, are packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent N-nitroso compounds from forming.

Therefore, nitrate-rich vegetables do not cause any harm. However, you should be wary of processed meats, especially their excess consumption.

Increase Antioxidant Intake

Since nitric oxide is unstable, it degrades too quickly in the blood and needs to be replenished constantly.

Certain molecules help improve its stability and reduce its breakdown. Antioxidants are one such molecule. Nitric oxide’s short life is the result of free radicals. Antioxidants counteract these free radicals, thus increasing the stability of NO.

Antioxidants are present in a variety of foods. However, they can primarily be found in plant-based foods like grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.

Exercise

A thin sheath of cells that line blood vessels is known as the endothelium. These cells are involved in the production of nitric oxide, which in turn maintains the health of blood vessels.

Exercise gets the heart to pump faster, which increases blood flow. This cardiovascular state improves endothelial function and increases the presence of nitric oxide.

If nitric oxide production drops to insufficient levels, it leads to endothelial dysfunction. This dysfunction can result in high blood pressure and related cardiovascular risks.

Therefore, physical exercise promotes healthy blood vessels and endothelial cells by boosting the production of nitric oxide in the body.

Studies have also indicated that regular exercise leads to an increase in endothelial vasodilation in healthy individuals as well as those with heart disease and high blood pressure.

Other studies have also shown an increase in antioxidant activity among individuals that exercised frequently.

These benefits take up to 10 weeks to be noticeable with regular exercise of 30 minutes three days a week.


Is Nitric Oxide Good For Blood Pressure? The Bottom Line

Nitric oxide is a molecule of significant importance to the human body. It plays multiple roles in maintaining overall health.

One such important role is its involvement as a vasodilator. Research points towards a connection between nitric oxide and the regulation of blood pressure levels. It is believed that nitric oxide lowers blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

The production of this naturally occurring molecule reduces with age. However, there are certain natural ways to up these levels.

However, care must be taken before taking any supplements. Do not start any supplements without a proper recommendation from a professional.

Rosemary Richards
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