L-Arginine and L-Citrulline are two amino acids that have been identified as essential building blocks for a “miracle molecule” in the body known as Nitric Oxide. In the 1990s, Dr. Louis Ignorro identified Nitric oxide as a chemical marker in the body with tremendous health benefits. Nitric Oxide’s health benefits were so great that it earned Dr. Ignorro one of the most prestigious awards in science—the Nobel Prize—in 1998.
The Functions of Nitric Oxide
A few of the health benefits of Nitric Oxide include the following:
1) Improves overall health of the cardiovascular system
2) Speeds healing and recovery
3) Improve sexual health
4) Decrease neuropathy
5) Improve athletic performance and overall function
Improved Cardiovascular Health
While the most common cause of death in the developed world is cardiovascular disease, Nitric Oxide can reverse cardiovascular disease safely and effectively. This is because Nitric Oxide causes the blood vessels in your body to relax and become more permeable. This, in turn, lowers blood pressure and relieves the stress on the heart that can lead to unhealthy hypertrophy. Some studies have shown that nitric oxide also decreases plaquing of blood vessels, although the mechanism by which it affects it has not been identified.
As Nitric Oxide causes blood vessels to relax, your body can release more blood through your entire body. This increase in blood perfusion promotes greater transfer of nutrients and waste products in the body. After an injury, tissues in the body needs to receive nutrients from the bloodstream to build up new healthy tissue. The injured area also needs to get rid of dead or unhealthy cells and any foreign matter that should not be there. Nitric Oxide enables this transport of unhealthy products away and replacement of nutrients at a much more rapid pace, thus speeding healing and recovery times.
Improve sexual health
Erectile dysfunction may affect as much as 52% of the male population worldwide. While there are a few different possible causes of erectile dysfunction, Nitric Oxide has been found to reverse it. In one study, the use of L-Arginine and Pycnogenol (another supplement, usually sourced from pine bark extract) was tested, and 92% of a group of 40 men with erectile dysfunction was able to sustain a normal erection after three months of treatment .1
This is because Nitric Oxide signals the smooth muscle in male genitalia to relax and allow for greater blood flow, enhancing men’s sexual health.
Neuropathy is defined as a disease or dysfunction of one or more nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness. Neuropathy is most commonly caused by cellular damage sustained in diabetes but can also be caused by other things such as trauma. Increasing L-Arginine and L-Citrulline to rev up Nitric Oxide production has been tested and found to be a successful treatment for neuropathy.
As discussed before, Nitric Oxide causes blood vessels to relax and release more of their oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood into the tissue of the body, which is essential for cells to heal and perform their functions. Nerves that have sustained damage benefit greatly from this and over time, can heal enough to restore normal feeling to areas that lost sensation prior.
Increase Athletic Performance and Overall Function
The increased abundance of nutrients and oxygen delivery, thanks to Nitric Oxide, empowers you to train and perform at a higher level. Performance has been shown to improve due to the rich oxygen levels available. The additional fuel enables skeletal muscles to work harder and longer, giving a huge competitive advantage to the athlete who has higher levels of Nitric Oxide in their system.
Heightened performance in the moment of competition is not the only advantage that Nitric Oxide gives to the athlete. The recovery period following competition or training is also shortened. Cells can recover more quickly from soreness and strains. Strength gains have been shown to be statistically greater in individuals who have an abundance of Nitric Oxide in their systems.
Choosing a Nitric Oxide Booster
According to consumer reports, a good nitric oxide supplement should contain the most effective nitric oxide boosting ingredients – amino acids L-Arginine (AAKG) and L-Citrulline, Beetroot extract, Pycnogenol and Quercetin and it should be delivered in a 2400mg daily dose.2
- R. STANISLAVOV & V. NIKOLOVA (2003) Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction with Pycnogenol and L-arginine, Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 29:3, 207-213, DOI: 10.1080/00926230390155104