Written by: Lisa Charles, Executive Contributor at Brainz Magazine.
Our bodies have approximately 100,000 miles of blood vessels covering almost an entire soccer field and within each vessel, there is a lining (the endothelium) that produces nitric oxide. This gas molecule is responsible for communicating messages within the endothelium lining telling the blood vessels to relax and to allow more blood flow. Nitric oxide is called the “Miracle Molecule “as it is essential to assuring that there is adequate blood flowing to every organ within your body. When there is dysfunction in this process, there is dysfunction in your body. And an endothelium dysfunction can mean heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and vascular disease, as well as a worsening of diabetes and Dementia/Alzheimer’s.
What if you had the ability to improve your Nitric oxide levels and enhance your overall Health?
Now, more than ever, it’s time to understand how this incredible compound can benefit our vascular health.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide serves as a messenger molecule and helps regulate several key processes, including blood pressure, vascular tone, and blood vessel dilation.
Nitric oxide is produced when your kidney converts L-citrulline into L-arginine.
L-citrulline is an amino acid found in certain fruits and vegetables. It helps to reduce fatigue, improve exercise performance, and amplify your body’s nitric oxide production. The reason our kidney converts it into L-arginine is that arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide.
Once the kidney has converted citrulline into arginine, the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS) produces nitric oxide.
As mentioned earlier, it occurs mainly in the endothelium, the layer of cells that lines all blood vessels.
Nitric oxide diffuses into the surrounding smooth muscle cells and causes them to relax. As a result, blood pressure decreases, and blood flow improves.
Nitric oxide also has anti-inflammatory effects and helps protect against damage to the endothelium caused by oxidative stress. However, problems arise when the endothelium becomes sluggish and nitric oxide levels decrease which often occurs in the aging process. One study has nitric oxide levels declining 75% after the age of 70.
The roles of nitric oxide in improving physiological functions are numerous. Here are some of the key ones:
Improves Heart Health
Nitric oxide helps reduce blood pressure, which is beneficial for heart health. It also reduces oxidative stress and supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Improves Lung Health
This miracle molecule helps open the airways and increase oxygen delivery to the lungs. It means people with asthma or COPD can breathe easier.
Nitric oxide helps to stimulate mitochondrial production. Mitochondria are the “powerhouses” of our cells, and they help to generate energy and keep us healthy. So, having more mitochondria means we can stay energized and healthy longer.
Enhances Brain Health
Nitric oxide helps to improve cognitive function and enhance communication between neurons. It can also reduce inflammation and protect against brain damage from stroke or head injury.
Nitric oxide helps to regulate calcium levels in the body by transporting it into and out of cells. It is essential for muscle contraction, nerve conduction, and other bodily functions.
Skeletal Muscle Repair
Nitric oxide helps to enhance skeletal muscle repair and recovery after an intense workout. It can also reduce fatigue during exercise, allowing you to push yourself further and get better results.
What is Vascular Health? Why is it Important?
Vascular health refers to the overall well-being of our blood vessels. It is critical to maintain a healthy vascular system to have good circulation, which is necessary for delivering vital nutrients and oxygen to our organs.
Poor vascular health can lead to various cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, blood clots, stroke, and high blood pressure. Other vascular conditions, such as varicose veins, can also develop due to poor vascular health.
How Does Nitric Oxide Help with Vascular Health?
When it comes to improving vascular health, nitric oxide is a miracle molecule. Below are some ways it helps:
Vasodilation is the dilation of the blood vessels, allowing for better circulation. Nitric oxide is a potent endogenous vasodilator. It helps to improve arterial vascular compliance by lowering arterial wall stiffness, which means there’s less resistance to blood flow. It makes it easier for your heart and other organs to get the needed oxygen and nutrients.
The endothelium is constantly exposed to damage from chemicals, insufficient blood flow, and other irritating agents. To help heal these injuries, the bone marrow produces endothelial stem and progenitor cells (EPCs) which then go on to normalize the function of the damaged tissue they came from. Nitric oxide has been shown to increase the functional ability of EPCs to participate in vascular repair.
Inhibition of Platelet Activation
Platelets are cells in the blood with an important role in clot formation. When platelets become overly active, they can stick together and form clots that block blood flow in arteries. Nitric oxide helps to prevent this from happening by inhibiting platelet activation. It is good for people with compromised heart health and those at risk for stroke.
An abundance of free radicals in the body causes oxidative stress. These molecules damage healthy cells, including those that make up blood vessels. Nitric oxide helps to reduce oxidative stress by reacting with free radicals and neutralizing them. It means that your blood vessels are better protected from oxidative damage, which helps you maintain good vascular health.
Ways to Naturally Increase Nitric Oxide Levels in the Body:
Anyone who understands the benefits of nitric oxide should look to increase their levels naturally.
Consume Nitrate Rich Foods
Foods high in nitrates, such as leafy greens and beets, have been found to increase nitric oxide production. So, toss a salad with some spinach and kale, and add a few slices of beetroot.
Regular aerobic exercise can help increase nitric oxide levels in the body. It is due to increased blood flow caused by exercise, which helps transport more oxygen and nitric oxide throughout the body.
Certain supplements, such as L-arginine and L-citrulline, can help increase nitric oxide production. These amino acids are readily available in most health stores. One possible supplement is Panoxol. In addition to L’Arginine, it has key plant-based ingredients such as Horse Chestnut that improves ankle/leg swelling; Cayenne that is an antioxidant improving stroke risk; Red Yeast Rice that assists in reducing plaque buildup and Gingko Biloba that has neuroprotective properties.
Improved vascular health has a significant impact on your life expectancy, as well as your overall health. Nitric oxide is an essential molecule that helps improve our blood vessels’ condition by dilating them, helping repair injuries, and reducing oxidative stress. So, include the essential nitrates and amino acids in your diet to increase nitric oxide production. Also, you should eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, practice deep diaphragmic breathing, avoid processed foods high in sodium and sugar, and exercise regularly. These steps, along with the right supplement can aid your body in becoming the greatest defense against disease. Remember, you have a vital role to play in your health. The time to take action is now.