NO or nitric oxide is a molecule the body makes that has several health benefits. Only discovered in 1980, NO has been described as one of the most important discoveries, particularly in the field of cardiovascular medicine.

nitric-oxideWhy? NO is a signaling molecule. When it is released it causes arteries to relax and circulation to increase. It also is an immune enhancer and seems to play an important role in cellular communication. Benefits include lowering blood pressure, preventing arterial plaques, reducing inflammation and increased healing of wounds. It also seems to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis.

When a NO deficiency is present, energy can suffer, sexual performance declines, pain increases, memory loss may happen, and sleep problems may occur. The biggest risk factor appears to be the aging process itself. Beyond 40 years of age, NO declines.

Many people are of the belief that L-arginine boosts NO. That may be true but it also may not be the best way to get levels up. It is the L-arginine pathway that becomes affected with age so making the conversion to NO doesn’t always happen. L-arginine also does not stay in the body very long so the benefits may be short lived.

The good news is that there are steps that one can take to boost their No levels and experience lasting benefits. There are supplements available that do not soley rely on L-arginine. The use of L-citrulline has actually been shown to raise L-arginine levels better than just using L-arginine by itself. Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12, a diet rich in leafy green vegetables like kale, loaded with naturally occurring nitrites and nitrates are helpful. Adequate rest and stress control are also necessary.