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Natural Awakenings Greater Boston - Rhode Island

Nitric Oxide’s Role in Cardiovascular Health

Jul 30, 2020 04:37PM ● By Gary Kracoff
Nitric oxide (N-O) is a compound in the body that causes blood vessels to widen and stimulates the release of certain hormones, such as insulin and human growth hormone. This process is called vasodilation, which causes blood vessels to widen and increase circulation. Vasodilation has been shown to increase performance in athletes, decrease blood pressure and increase blood flow to certain areas of the body, like hands and feet.

N-O production is essential for blood, nutrients and oxygen to be able to travel throughout the body. It is also important to live a healthy and active lifestyle for many reasons, one being that people that live sedentary lifestyles lose the ability to generate nitric oxide. Physical activity is one of the best ways to stimulate nitric oxide production in the body and support cardiovascular health.

How to Naturally Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

By the time we turn 40 years old, our bodies make 50 percent less nitric oxide than they did as a teenager. As we age, the body produces less and less nitric oxide, so it is important to consume foods that boost nitric oxide levels, such as meat, poultry, garlic, dark chocolate, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and beets, or take a supplement.

Exercise Performance

Many successful athletes have been using beetroot as a supplement to enhance their training performance. Professional athletes, long distance endurance athletes, power lifters and everyday people that exercise have all seen great benefits when taking a beetroot supplement. Nitric oxide is very beneficial for both pre-workout and post-workout. Since the effects of taking beetroot increase blood flow in the body, this can increase performance by bringing more oxygen to the blood vessels and help athletes push harder and longer. Beetroot can also be taken post-workout, by decreasing fatigue and enhancing muscle recovery.

Decrease Blood Pressure

More than 100 million Americans are diagnosed with high blood pressure. High blood pressure/hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Impairment of N-O bioavailability is also an important risk factor for both hypertension and CVD. Evidence suggests that N-O plays a major role in treating the effects of hypertension. Taking a N-O supplement like beetroot or consuming more sources of foods containing nitric oxide is a great first step and can greatly help those at risk of hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

Erectile Dysfunction

Studies have shown that taking nitric oxide may reduce erectile dysfunction (ED) in mild to moderate cases. In the United States, about 30 million men and 30 percent of individuals with hypertension complain of ED. Nitric oxide supplementation is the most efficient natural remedy to combat erectile dysfunction.

Cold Hands and Feet

Having cold hands and/or feet can be an indication that nitric oxide levels are too low and not enough blood flow is getting to the extremities. Consider taking a supplement or mix some beetroot powder with water or a smoothie if this is commonly experienced.

Remember, diet and lifestyle are very important, and no amount of supplementation can replace good life habits. Adding a well- formulated nitric oxide supplement can help provide the extra boost many people need.

Dr. Gary Kracoff is a naturopathic doctor and registered pharmacist at Johnson Compounding and Wellness Center, located at 577 Main St., Waltham. For more information on supplementation, call 781-893-3870 ext. 2 or visit