Nitric oxide (NO) is relatively new to the sports supplements market. However, nitric oxide supplements are popular with bodybuilders, weight lifters and other professional as well as recreational athletes involved in high intensity sports. But there may be other health benefits beyond bodybuilding or sports.
Just What Is Nitric Oxide?
Not to be mistaken for laughing gas, which is nitrous oxide, nitric oxide can be defined in simple terms as a gas naturally found in the body and whose function is conveying information between cells. It also helps in increasing blood flow by dilating vessels. Nitric oxide is also known as arginine-alpha-keto-glutarate (AAKG) as well as nitrogen monoxide.
Nitric Oxide Supplements Benefits
Because of the blood vessel dilating properties, Bodybuilders have used nitric oxide supplements in the belief that it will give them better muscle “pumps” during and after weight training sessions. These supplements come in the form of l-arginine, or simply arginine. L-arginine is an amino acid is said to help in the production of the gas. L-arginine is also said to stimulate the release of growth hormone. (See: Medline Plus).
According to Consumer Lab, the supplements will not really pump your muscles, but may “increase intense exercise endurance in older and recreational athletes.” I personally belong in both these categories, therefore all for it. But don’t click away just yet, there are other benefits.
As earlier mentioned, studies have shown these supplements to have health benefits beyond the gym. One recent study suggests that nitric oxide supplements can help manage hypertension in ASA (argininosuccinic aciduria) patients:
In a study published online in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers said that nitric oxide supplements were able to manage treatment-resistant hypertension in a patient with argininosuccinic aciduria (ASA).
Brendan Lee, PhD, of the Baylor College of Medicine, shared that treatment with inorganic nitric oxide supplements helped normalize blood pressure levels. The researchers wrote: “Our results support the contention that the investigation of nitric oxide supplementation in ASA subjects should be performed in a systematic manner.” See original story
According to Wikipedia, NO supplements (in l-arginine form) can help in tendon healing:
Nitric oxide (NO) also appears to play a role in tendon healing and inhibition of NO synthesis impairs tendon healing. Supplementing with arginine, the amino acid that the body uses to form NO, may be useful in tendon healing. The use of a NO delivery system (glyceryl trinitrate patches) applied over the area of maximal tenderness was tested in three clinical trials for the treatment of tendinopathies and was found to significantly reduce pain and increase range of motion and strength.
Due to the blood vessel dilating effects, nitric oxide supplements are thought to be beneficial for cardiovascular health and erectile dysfunction among other conditions. More studies on the benefits and possible side effects of the supplements are ongoing.