Nitric Oxide (NO) is produced naturally by the body by breaking down an amino acid called arginine. The component is then used to help cells in the body communicate. Arginine is naturally found in a range of foods including red meat, fish, poultry, grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy products, among others.
In and of itself, arginine is used by the body to help heal wounds, help the kidneys remove waste products from the body, maintain immune and hormone function, and it also helps to relax and dilate the arteries, thus improving blood flow.
The key for benefits for athletes, however, have to do with its conversion to nitric oxide. This is what causes blood vessels to open wider and promote blood flow, as well as to release insulin and other hormones. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting energy into cells.
What Kinds of Athletes Should Use NO?
Nitric Oxide has been discovered to help body builders recover from intense weight training, due to its relaxing effect on the blood vessels. However, it is also useful for people beginning cross-training or weightlifting. When your blood vessels relax, blood travels through the body unobstructed, taking with it oxygen and nutrients that your muscles need during recovery.
Additionally, arginine, the amino acid from which Nitric Oxide is made, helps to deliver hormones, including Growth Hormone, which signals your muscles to grow, often boosting their vascularity.
Some research suggest that performance isn’t necessarily boosted, in highly trained subjects. However, people who are in the process of improving performance do demonstrate a benefit. Additionally, studies have not been carried out with women to determine if there could be a benefit for highly trained women or elder adults when there is a lower NO metabolism due to age or estrogen status.
Other articles from reputable sources mention that while there are benefits to nitric oxide boosters for a range of illnesses, there is no benefit to taking nitric oxide if you are looking to boost performance.
In What Forms Can I Find Nitric Oxide Boosters?
You can buy Nitric Oxide boosters at most athletic supplement stores. When you buy Nitric Oxide boosters, you will not find them as Nitric Oxide, but rather as their precursor- L-arginine. This may also be found in combination with L-citrulline. The come in powder forms, which are meant to be mixed into a liquid and drunk, which also happens to be form that is most readily absorbed.
How Much of the Nitric Oxide Booster Should I Take?
The amount may vary from brand to brand, but in general, you should take up to 5 grams of arginine three times a day, for a total of 15 grams of arginine per day. Take one dose 30-60 minutes before training, and you may want to take one when waking up and before going to bed.
Are There Any Side-Effects to Taking NO Boosters?
Some of the negative effects of taking NO boosters could include the following:
- Blood abnormalities
- Worsening of asthma
- Low blood pressure
- Airway inflammation
You should avoid taking L-arginine if you have herpes, low blood pressure, have recently experienced a heart attack, have kidney disease, or are planning to have a surgery in the next two weeks. It should be taken with caution if you have cirrhosis, allergies, or asthma.