There have been over 60,000 studies conducted on Nitric oxide, or sometimes referred to as NO. To cover all of the studies is certainly not within the scope of this article. For this article, I will cover many of the reported benefits of taking a Nitric oxide (NO) supplement and some of the studies conducted supporting or negating these claims. At the end of the article, I will link to reliable, no-risk, sources where you can purchase NO supplements should you decide to include it in your diet and exercise regimen.
Before taking any supplements, it’s important to talk with your doctor. Drugs interactions can have serious negative effects on your body and your health. Nitric oxide supplements taken in combination with other heart medications can have serious effects on your blood pressure. Be sure to disclose all the drugs you are taking with your doctor before taking any supplements
Where it all began…
NO supplements have become increasingly popular over the last couple of decades as an aid for improving exercise performance and post-exercise recovery. In reality, it’s been used in medicine for 100s of years. Doctors commonly give patients with heart disease nitroglycerin tablets to relieve symptoms of angina or chest pain. Interestingly enough, nitroglycerin is the same stuff used to make dynamite. Nitroglycerin works by offering relief through the vasodilating effects of the drug. This relaxes the arteries of the heart allowing for blood to flow more easily relieving the pain associated with heart disease. One of the main reported benefits of NO is its vasodilating effects on the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal system.
NO has also been reported to help with erectile dysfunction or more commonly known as ED. ED becomes more common as we age due to deterioration of blood vessels. Viagra, The most common aid for ED, works through the same pathways as the NO cycle. By relaxing the arteries that supply blood to the (ah-hem) nether regions, NO is reported to aid with increasing blood flow and helping alleviate the effects of ED. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension has published scientific evidence to support these claims. In the study, they reported patients taking an NO supplement experienced significant improvements with erectile dysfunction.
Nitric Oxide and Exercise Performance
High-Intensity Interval Training
Many studies support the supplementation of NO for improved performance during intermittent sports related activity. A study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology has shown increase availability of NO improved performance in exercise testing. The study was conducted on 14 male recreational-sport team players. The testing was based around the Yo-Yo (level 1) exercise testing protocol. This tests athletic performance during high-intensity intermittent exercise. The end result showed significant improvement when compared to a placebo.
Moderate/High-Intensity Steady-State Exercise
On the other hand, another study also published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology has shown no change in athletic performance. That being said, different test parameters were used when conducting this study. This 2013 study measured the VO2 of cyclists during moderate to severe steady-state exercise. VO2 is the amount of oxygen consumed by the body during exercise. The study concluded that NO supplementation had no significant effect on O2 consumption within the subjects.
Hemodynamic properties of NO supplementation
A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research studied the hemodynamic effects of NO supplementation on healthy resistance-trained college-aged men. Among other things, hemodynamics relates to blood pressure, heart rate, and volume of blood pumped per beat of the heart. Measurements were taken 5, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after consuming an NO supplement over the course of several weeks. They concluded there was no significant change in any of the variables. This would indicate NO supplementation does not affect the amount of blood pumped to the muscles. These studies are limited and more research is needed.
Other studies have shown that NO supplementation can benefit those suffering from a lack of free NO due to heart disease. It works by relaxing the blood vessels in the heart and other areas of the body. This in turn, increases the amount of blood delivered to key areas in the body. Similar effects to that of nitroglycerin.
There are many discrepancies in the research associated with the benefits of NO supplementation and its effects on athletic performance and post-exercise recovery. Given the infinite number of parameters, testing conditions, and control methods it is difficult to decipher the benefits associated with NO. What is known and documented is the relative safety associated with taking an NO supplement.
In relation to the type of exercise you perform, if you resistance train or are involved in intense interval training NO supplementation may be beneficial. If you are an endurance athlete NO supplementation won’t hurt, but it may not be beneficial to exercise performance. Also, it appears highly trained athletes benefit little from NO supplementation whereas average or recreational type athletes can benefit from NO supplements.
No Risk Source for NO Supplement
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Be sure to check out all of jeffsmithfitness.com’s Supplement Reviews. Find out which ones are right for you and your fitness goals.
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