Nitric oxide is a small molecule that is naturally produced by the cells in your body. This means that it is also made by the cells of the innermost layer of the blood vessel lining, or endothelium. The endothelium is sensitive to physical and chemical effects on the blood vessels. Endothelial cells can get damaged from a variety of health conditions. When the endothelium senses inflammation, toxin exposure, high blood pressure, high blood glucose, atherosclerosis, obesity, or emotional distress, it releases less nitric oxide. The result of these chronic exposures or conditions is a nitric oxide deficiency.
Nitric oxide plays a role in the cardiovascular system, immune system and the nervous system. In fact, it is so important that the body has two pathways to generate the molecule. One depends upon sufficient levels of the amino acid L-arginine. The other depends upon an adequate supply of dietary nitrates.
Chronic, systemic inflammation stresses and damages the endothelial lining leading to a decreased release of nitric oxide.
Overtime, an accumulation of toxins also leads to damage to the endothelium and a reduction in NO release and NO levels.
Obesity reduces NO production by stimulating widespread inflammation and also causing harmful effects to the endothelial lining.
Uncontrolled, high blood pressure overtime can damage the endothelial lining. When this occurs, nitric oxide levels are reduced.
Chronic stress has similar effects in the body as toxins do. Overtime, stress causes inflammation and damage to all cells in the body, including those of the blood vessels. As a result, NO can plummet.
With advancing age, the body becomes less efficient at producing NO. By age 40, the body produces significantly less NO than it did in teenage years.
Proton pump inhibitors, or PPI’s, are one of the major group of medications that significantly deplete NO levels. The goal of these meds is to reduce stomach acid. They also suppress the body’s natural ability to create NO.
Natural nitrates are the building blocks of NO. These molecules are found in plant foods. If your diet is low in these precursor molecules, the body does not have enough building blocks to manufacture NO. Dark green leafy vegetables and beets are two powerhouse foods rich in nitrates.
Regular exercise or movement is needed to stimulate NO production. A sedentary lifestyle leads to low NO levels.
NO is key to ensuring that blood, oxygen and nutrients reach every cell of your body. NO is a chemical messenger that signals the arteries to open up, oxygen to reach tissues, brain cells to communicate with one another and for immune cells to protect the body from invading bacteria and cancer.
It should be noted that nitric oxide is one of the most important molecules for cardiovascular health. It is a vasodilator meaning it is responsible for relaxing and dilating blood vessels (keeping them wide open), increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. It is also an important signaling molecule that is needed to keep cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells) properly functioning. NO also assists with nutrient exchange in the cardiovascular system.
When there are several heart disease risk factors present such as smoking, stress, inflammation or lack of physical activity, then NO levels drop and blood vessels can begin to accumulate fatty plaque. Inflammation comes next, and this sets the stage for atherosclerosis and heart disease leading to a heart attack and stroke.
A NO deficiency can affect your health in a lot of different ways. High blood pressure, heart disease, abnormal cholesterol levels, arterial plaque, erectile dysfunction, blood clots, Type 2 Diabetes and dementia can all result from low NO levels.
How does one know if they have low nitric oxide levels? One easy way is to use saliva test strips, which allow you to analyze your own nitric oxide status in seconds.
An adequate dietary intake of nitrates is required to produce sufficient nitric oxide levels in the body.
Regular physical activity increases the production of nitric oxide in your cells.
If you are overweight this can impact your NO production. Losing weight and keeping it off can help to regulate your nitric oxide levels.
The bacteria in your mouth are needed to convert dietary nitrates to nitric oxide. Mouthwash eradicates the bacteria in your mouth.
Slow, deep breathing through the nose can help to release more nitric oxide.
The sun’s rays have been shown to release nitric oxide from the skin. Sunlight can alter levels of NO in both the skin and blood.
This powerful supplement combo includes:
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