Nitric oxide is a gas that is found naturally in the air and in mammals, which serves as a protector of cells when very strong movements are performed as part of high intensity exercise. Nitric oxide is also known as nitrogen oxide or nitrogen monoxide (NO). In some cases it is confused with nitrous oxide (N2O).

The nitric oxide molecule is produced naturally by the human body when it requires it to withstand strong muscular stimuli, in this way it can modulate vascular tone, protect immune cells and oppose platelet adhesion.

Nitric oxide is produced by the body and can also be ingested naturally in the diet with foods rich in this compound, or also ingest dietary supplements that athletes often use for their workouts.

What is Nitric Oxide for?

Among the most important functions of nitric oxide in the body is the vasodilator effect, which modulates vascular tone and platelet aggregation.

It acts as a central and peripheral neurotransmitter and favors the immunological elimination of cytotoxic substances. Vasodilation at the muscle level will in turn increase the supply of nutrients and decrease muscle fatigue.

As a neurotransmitter, by irrigating the muscles of the pelvic area, it will contribute to the male erection by promoting the entry of blood to the veins of the penis.

Nitric oxide benefits

Nitric oxide fulfills different functions in the body, for which various benefits can be found, such as strengthening the immune system, this because being produced by macrophages can act as a cytotoxic against some microorganisms; also as a vasodilator that contributes to the regulation of pressure, reduction of cholesterol levels and therefore reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, it also has an antioxidant and neurotransmitter effect, and helps improve the distribution of vitamins and other nutrients in the body.

It is a good muscle supplement for athletes since it acts as a vasodilator, in addition to increasing cardiovascular endurance and expanding muscle fiber. In this way, nitric oxide improves some heart problems and helps fight cancer cells.

Vasodilator nitric oxide

Nitric oxide acts as an endogenous vasodilator. The release of nitric oxide is controlled by the autonomic nervous system at the level of the vessels; When released, it is carried to the cells of the vascular smooth muscle tissue, which generates vasodilation.

And it is that the precursor of this this substance is L-arginine, a substance that is found in vascular tissue and is used continuously producing nitric oxide; This increases blood flow, facilitating the delivery of oxygen to the muscles. This vasodilation, in turn, greatly helps regulate blood pressure.

What is nitric oxide for in muscles?

By having a vasodilator action, nitric oxide greatly increases blood supply, and therefore, the supply of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. This benefits muscle capacity, muscle recovery and its ability to grow thanks to the contribution of nutrients. For this reason, nitric oxide is added in different nutritional supplements for athletes.

Nitric oxide, in addition to improving muscle recovery due to the increase in oxygen due to increased blood flow, also helps to eliminate ammonia in the tissues. In this way, the athlete can recover more quickly, reducing muscle fatigue.

Nitric Oxide in the erection

Different studies have shown that nitric oxide is responsible for producing an erection. This happens because the release of nitric oxide occurs towards the nerve endings, reaches the pelvic area and the penis.

This release produces muscle relaxation, dilation of the blood vessels of the penis and its cavernous bodies, which favors the entry of blood to the veins of the sexual organ, and consequently, an increase in size and thickness, that is, the erection proper.

For this reason, nitric oxide is the component of the famous Viagra pills, used to produce erections.

Nitric Oxide Supplements

Nitric oxide is sold as a dietary supplement to help increase muscle and vascular capacity during intense exercise routines. However, despite being sold under this name, the supplements actually contain nitric oxide gas precursor substances. That is, substances that when metabolized by the body will release nitric oxide that will contribute to the internal processes already mentioned.

This is due to the content of L-arginine, which increases blood flow, which contributes to muscle recovery and the burning of body fat, as well as improving blood cholesterol levels.

Athletes who consume nitric oxide supplements for gym training, in addition to increasing their muscular endurance, will help their muscles stay more swollen after training; because this gas intensifies the muscular congestion that makes them look more voluminous due to the increased blood supply.

How to take nitric oxide?

Nitric oxide is a compound that is produced in the body thanks to other precursor substances that can be consumed in the diet or with exercise. Some of the diet foods that can be ingested to increase nitric oxide production are berries, watermelon, beets, grapes, red meat, and dairy products, nuts, and pure cocoa.

Thus, proper nutrition coupled with high intensity exercises will promote the release of nitrogen oxide naturally.

Supplements that help promote the release of nitric oxide can also be taken, for example, consuming L-arginine and L-citrulline will help the body release this gas that will contribute to training or vasodilation.

Experts recommend taking nitric oxide supplements about 30 to 60 minutes before starting your fitness routine. It is advisable to take it without having eaten food to avoid any interaction; but then it is convenient to consume carbohydrates after training.

Some specialists, on the other hand, recommend taking this supplement after training. The final decision in this regard will depend on how your body reacts to these changes. In case of any doubt, consult a specialist.

About 5 grams of nitric oxide per day is recommended. The specialist or manufacturer must be the one who specifies the appropriate dose according to the person due to their age and weight, or according to the physical activity carried out by the athlete.

In case of using nitric oxide in tablets to facilitate male erection, the pharmacist’s instructions should be followed, although it is an over-the-counter drug that can be consumed before sexual intercourse.

Nitric oxide side effects

Although they are very few, nitric oxide can cause some side effects that you should be aware of if they occur. Among these are stomach problems, headaches, exacerbation of asthma problems and inflammation of the airways, dizziness, insomnia, tachycardia, and exacerbation of herpes in case the person with this pathology takes the medicine.

It is not recommended that people with blood pressure problems consume this, as it can cause drops or spikes in blood pressure.

Also, it is not recommended to use for a long time. After about 2 to 3 months, you should rest for a couple of months before taking it again. This is because vasodilation for a long time can alter blood pressure levels and cause health problems.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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