What exactly is Nitric Oxide?
- Nitric oxide is a molecule that our body produces to help its 50 trillion cells communicate with each other by transmitting signals throughout the entire body.
- Help memory and behavior by transmitting information between nerve cells in the brain
- Assist the immune system at fighting off bacteria and defending against tumors
- Regulate blood pressure by dilating arteries
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve sleep quality
- Increase your recognition of sense (i.e. smell)
- Increase endurance and strength Assist in gastric motility.
Let’s get straight to the point. L-Arginine has been proven in several studies to show no effect on increasing Nitric Oxide production. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, seventeen healthy adult males were given 6 grams of L-Arginine hydrochloride or a placebo. “To analyze NO production, NO3– was converted to NO2– by nitrate reductase, followed by the derivatization of NO2– with 2,3-diaminonaphthalene. NOx, ADMA and SDMA were analyzed using a high-performance liquid chromatography system and monitored with a fluorescence detector. Two-way ANOVA with repeated measures showed no significant changes in NOx concentrations on the L-arginine group as compared to placebo group at any of the fivetime points.”
So if you’re taking L-Arginine to help with your “muscle pumps,” stop being fooled by supplement companies trying to sell you Nitric Oxide supplements with L-Arginine as their main ingredient. I’ll admit, I bought into the hype many years ago with L-Arginine until I did some research.
If you’re interested in legitimately increasing Nitric Oxide production with supplementation, two studies have shown Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine (GPLC) to increase blood levels of nitrate/nitrite (a marker of N.O.) if 4.5 grams are used on a daily basis. I’ve been taking GPLC for several months now, and I can tell you this stuff really works when I’m training. It feels like the muscle is going to rip through the skin some days!
In conclusion, do you really need to take supplements to increase N.O. production? No, not really. The most common way to increase nitric oxide is through exercise. When you lift weights or do cardio, your muscles need more oxygen (which is supplied by the blood). As the heart pumps with more pressure to supply the muscles with blood, the lining in your arteries releases nitric oxide into the blood, which relaxes and widens the vessel wall, allowing for more blood to pass through. Eating a good diet can certainly help as well.
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Bloomer, RJ; Tschume, LC; Smith, WA (2009). “Glycine propionyl-L-carnitine modulates lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide in human subjects”. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 79 (3): 131–141. doi:10.1024/0300-9822.214.171.124.