(BeWellBuzz) The chemical inner workings of the human body are sometimes truly amazing. One of the most important examples of this is nitric oxide. This simple molecule has gotten a lot of popular press over the last two decades and for good reason. Nitric oxide provides more health benefits to the human body than just about anything else.
The nitric oxide molecule is a gas and each molecule of this gas is made from one molecule of nitrogen combining with one molecule of oxygen. Scientists and the medical community usually abbreviate nitric oxide as simply NO. The human body produces nitric oxide by utilizing the nitrogen in L-arginine and L-citrulline, both amino acids found in our food.
Nitric oxide serves many functions in the human body. It can act as a messenger between cells, a neurotransmitter, and a hormone.
Nitric oxide benefits:
- helps dilate blood vessels
- supports a healthy heart
- boosts brain power
- improves sexual health
- increases blood flow
- regulates digestion
- increases cognitive abilities
- increases memory retention
- lowers blood pressure
- strengthens the immune system
- increases stamina
- helps re-build muscles after exercise
- increases sex drive
- helps the liver and pancreas function efficiently
Nitric oxide is one busy molecule!
It turns out that nitric oxide is so important to the healthy functioning human systems, it was named “The 1992 Molecule of the Year” by one of the most prestigious scientific journals, “Science.” In fact, the Nobel Prize for medicine and physiology was awarded to two scientists in 1998 for their important discovery that the nitric oxide molecule is important for creating signals between nerves and blood vessel cells in the cardiovascular system. This top honor went to Dr. Gerald Davison of the University of California in Davis and Dr. Louis Ignarro of the University of California in Los Angeles. Their pioneer work clearly showed that nitric oxide is needed by the body to prevent heart attacks and strokes. More specifically, they found that nitric oxide signals to the lining of blood vessels and capillaries to relax.
Foods that are high in nitric oxide
The foods highest in the raw materials, namely nitrate, needed by the human body to synthesize nitric oxide are green leafy vegetables and certain tubers. Spinach has one of the very highest concentrations of nitrate as do beets and beet greens. It is interesting to note that spinach and beets are in the same plant family! So, as it turns out, Popeye’s favorite food really can make you strong!
When it comes to nitric oxide, there are other important dietary considerations. Eating more antioxidants, especially vitamin C and vitamin E, can help prevent the breakdown of nitric oxide in the body. If you are eating greens and beets, you are already getting these antioxidants. However, if you are trying to supplement your diet with a nitric oxide pill, you may not be getting the antioxidants that you need. If you do take a nitric oxide supplement, be sure the supplement contains these important antioxidants. Keep in mind too that the nitrogen content of vegetables varies according to how healthy the soil is. In general, buying organic vegetables will yield more nitrogen available for your body. Another quick point is that pomegranates have been found to aid nitric oxide and also to prevent the destruction of nitric oxide so these would be good to add to your diet.
Exercise and nitric oxide
Cardiovascular exercise is an important component of stimulating the body to produce adequate amounts of nitric oxide. Twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to four times a week should be enough to keep the body producing enough nitric oxide. Remember, cardiovascular exercise can be as simple as a brisk walk or even making love!
Another fascinating fact that has been discovered about nitric oxide production in the human body has to do with the commensal anaerobic bacteria found in the biofilm of your tongue and in your saliva. It turns out that when you eat foods high in nitrates like beets and spinach, nitrate becomes concentrated in your mouth. In fact, the mouth contains ten times more nitrate than any other part of your body. The commensal bacteria in your mouth help convert nitrate to nitrite which is then converted to nitric oxide. This explains why taking L-arginine and L-citrulline pills don’t work very well. If you quickly swallow a pill, the contents of the pill don’t have a chance to interact with these commensal bacteria. Taking slow-dissolving tablets or lozenge is your best bet. Your saliva and the beneficial bacteria in your mouth convert the nutrients in the lozenge into nitric oxide. So with every swallow, you get a boost of nitric oxide. So if you would like to supplement nitric oxide, try CircO2 as it is a lozenge. That way you get the most benefits possible.