Nitric Oxide (NO) is a simple gaseous molecule of nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O). It is a powerful signaling molecule present in the cardiovascular system and nervous system. NO penetrates cell membrane and sends specific signal that regulate cellular activities, instructing the body to perform certain functions.
Where is Nitric Oxide produced?
Nitric oxide is produced from an amino acid called L-arginine naturally in our body. When we exercise, the shearing force of the blood on the blood vessel wall stimulates L-arginine to convert into nitric oxide.
Most L-arginine in the blood vessel is derived from protein in the diet. The natural amount of L-arginine present in the blood vessel is 5-15%. Another amino acid called L-citrulline is converted to L-arginine, which in turn produce more NO.
A normal consumption of protein does not produce sufficient quantities of NO in the body. Therefore, it would be good to obtain NO from supplements of L-arginine and L-citrulline.
What are the effects of Nitric Oxide?
The signaling function of NO produces many beneficial effects:
- Promote the relaxation of blood vessel and enhance blood flow by relaxing the smooth muscle of the blood vessel
- Slow down the build up of plaque, which is the hardening building up of cholesterol.
- Inhibit blood platelet from adhering to the blood vessel wall to cause blood clot
- Anti-inflammatory property – prevent inflammatory agent from sticking to the blood vessel wall. Reduce the swelling and discomfort of arthritis.
- Powerful anti-oxidant – deactivates free radicals and prevents oxidative stress.
- Starve off infectious bacteria, viruses and parasites, preventing the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells.
Based on the beneficial effect of NO, these are the health benefits:
Ø Stroke – Prevents formation of blood clot.
Ø High Blood Pressure – Relaxes blood vessel, allowing more blood to flow through.
Ø Impotence – Initiates erectile of the penis by enhancing blood flow.
Ø Cancer – Prevents the proliferation of certain types of cancel cells.
Ø Heart disease – Prevents adhesion of plaque on the blood vessel wall.
Ø Cholesterol – Works synergistically with statin drugs such as Lipitor and Mevacor to reduce cholesterol
Ø Alzheimer’s disease – Improves blood flow to the brain cells and information transmission between brain cells.
Ø Sports performance – Improves blood flow and delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the heart and skeletal muscles to enhance sports performances.
Taking L-arginine and L-citrulline supplements will provide the additional NO to give the benefits to the body. This is especially so for those above 35 years and are not very active. For active sportsman, it can enhance performance further.
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