Nitric Oxide: What It Is & How It Helps

Nitric Oxide: What It Is & How It Helps

Nitrate-Rich Foods


If you’re looking to live a healthier, happier, more energetic life, you may want to take stock of your blood’s nitric oxide levels.

In this article, we’ll explain what nitric oxide is, why it’s beneficial, and how to increase it in a holistic way.

What Is Nitric Oxide?

Have you ever broke through “the wall” while running? The wall is that point when you’re running and every part of your body is telling you to stop. But if you push yourself a little bit further, you can break through the wall and keep going faster and farther than before.

Nitric oxide is what helps you break through the wall.

Have you ever felt “the pump” while lifting weights? It’s similar to that feeling of breaking through “the wall.” It’s that moment when nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood starts flooding your muscles. The pump leads to more intense workouts where you feel as if you can go harder for longer.

This is another example of nitric oxide getting to work in your body.

Nitric oxide is a molecule that we’re learning more about every day, and if health and exercise are important parts of your life, then you should learn more about it, too.

Nitric oxide (N.O.) is also called nitrogen monoxide. It’s a gas that your body makes from breaking down the nitrogen in your food and supplements. Nitric oxide gives you strength, power, and stamina. Every fiber of your being needs a little bit of N.O. to function and perform.

Nitric oxide is a free radical that is also a product of oxidation, but don’t worry, this free radical is good for you (when taken in correct doses), so you won’t have to increase your blueberry intake to counteract your body’s nitric oxide production.

The Miracle Molecule | What Does Nitric Oxide Do?

Nitric oxide has been called the miracle molecule because of all the different roles it plays in the body. If you want to live a happy, healthy life, you need nitric oxide. It’s as simple as that.

But why is nitric oxide so great?

In order to help you understand why nitric oxide is so beneficial, let’s very briefly touch on the science of it. In an interview with the University of Southern California, doctor and pharmacologist, Dr. Louis Ignarro, highlighted some of the most important things that nitric oxide does in the body.

“In the heart, nitric oxide is the body’s way of protecting against cardiovascular disease,” Ignarro said. “The arteries make nitric oxide to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to organs because it’s a vasodilator, which means it widens or relaxes the arteries so that more blood can flow through, therefore lowering the pressure within the arterial system.”

What Dr. Ignarro is saying is that nitric oxide helps different parts of the body relax so it can actually do more.


Think of it this way:

Let’s say you’re experiencing a charlie horse. You know, one of those painful knots in one of your leg muscles. It hurts so bad, that your first reaction is to recoil from the pain by tightening up your muscles. But that actually makes your pain worse.

So what makes the pain go away?



At some point, you’ll relax that leg muscle, in spite of your instinct to tighten it, and the pain will slowly go away.

Nitric oxide does something similar. While your body is under stress, it has a harder time getting the oxygen and nutrition it needs. That’s because your muscles are so tight that it makes it harder on your blood vessels to give the muscle what it needs to do its job. The N.O. relaxes your muscles so they can actually do more.

In a nutshell, that’s what a vasodilator does. 

Unlike so many of the free radicals your body comes in contact with, nitric oxide protects and strengthens your body. Nitric oxide’s ability to act as a vasodilator can bring so many different health benefits to your life.

Here are just a few of them:


It helps support male virility.

Fellas – do you suffer from bedroom-related issues? A lot of men are embarrassed to admit that they have a problem, but there’s absolutely no reason to be. They’re more common than everybody realizes, and there’s nothing wrong with having a problem or finding a way to manage it. Numerous guys have turned to nitric oxide as a solution, and it turns out that they’ve had some luck.

We want to spend some time explaining how, if you’ve had a problem performing in the gym or the bedroom, it’s possible that your problem is actually a result of poor nitric oxide levels.

Here’s why:

Aside from the added strength and endurance men feel in the gym, many have reported improved performance in the bedroom as well.

As we’ve discussed before, the relaxation of smooth muscles allows more blood to enter the body. This includes, you know, the family jewels. If you’re a man who has a performance-related problem, it’s likely that your problem is that you’re not getting enough blood to flow down south. Many men use nitric oxide supplements to help improve their blood flow.

This is the basic premise for medications that contain sildenafil, like Viagra. They help the muscles in your nether regions relax so more blood can enter and help perk you up, if you will.


It supports muscle recovery. 

When you work out, you stress your body. When you go on a run, you stress your body. When you work in a high-pressure environment, you stress your body.

We all experience different stressors every day. Whether those are self-imposed like a good workout or they’re imposed upon us like hard labor at a physically rigorous job, the body picks up on all of that stress, which leads to aches, pains, and stiffness.

Whatever the cause of your physical stress, your body needs a break. Your body needs nourishment to recover from physically stressful situations. Nitric oxide can help your body get the nutrients it needs so it can recover and get stronger.

The better you’re able to manage your body’s recovery processes, the better it will be able to heal. The better it can heal, the better your body will be able to handle those stresses in the future. So go ahead and reclaim your body, and let it heal from the daily stresses life throws at you by making sure that every cell is rich in nutrition.


It helps lower blood pressure.

Stress has a ripple effect on the body. Not only can it cause physical pain in the form of stiffness and soreness, but it can also cause other stress-related symptoms. One of these is a rise in blood pressure.

High blood pressure is bad for many different reasons, First, long-term blood pressure issues increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. And even if you don’t suffer from one of those terrible conditions, heart and kidney diseases are much more common in people with high blood pressure. Even some forms of dementia are closely linked to long-term high blood pressure.

The calming effect of increased blood flow brought on by nitric oxide can help manage your blood pressure, and by extension, these long-term risks. In this way, having sufficient levels of N.O. in the bloodstream should be viewed as a long-term investment in your health. This investment will have a synergistic health effect on your entire body.


It helps increase endurance.

When you workout, your body is put under an abnormal amount of strain. This physical stress isn’t unhealthy. It’s just meant to push your body so it can heal and recover stronger than before. If you’re looking to maximize your workout capacity, you should think about your nitric oxide levels.

Nitric oxide can increase your muscles’ glucose intake. Glucose is the food your muscles turn into energy. The more energy your muscles have, the longer you can exercise. The longer you can exercise, the faster you’ll see results.

We’ll touch on this later, but it’s still worth mentioning now—not only does nitric oxide help regulate and maintain energy levels during exercise, but exercise helps increase your nitric oxide levels. It’s a chicken and the egg situation, where both help you work towards a healthier version of you.

This ability to use blood glucose more efficiently will spill into other aspects of your life. Not only will you be able to do more while working out, but you’ll be able to maintain your energy throughout the day.


Helps manage type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition where the body has a hard time interpreting signals given to it by the hormone insulin. Insulin is supposed to help your body know how much blood sugar you should have at any given moment, so people with diabetes usually over-produce blood sugars because their bodies don’t know when to stop. 

On top of that, one unfortunate thing to keep in mind, is that studies show that people with diabetes usually have lower nitric oxide levels in their blood naturally. This might partially explain why diabetics have higher blood sugar levels in the first place. That said, there are ways to fix your N.O. imbalance.

We’re not saying that nitric oxide can cure you of diabetes – don’t let anyone ever make you think that. Your body still needs help interpreting insulin signals, so if you have diabetes, you should talk with your doctor and follow their advice regarding the medications you should take and the diet alterations you should make.

But, we are saying that nitric oxide can help the body absorb more of those blood sugars. This might help you and your doctor manage your blood sugar levels a little bit more while helping you feel less sluggish.

Whether it’s managing how your body uses blood sugar or holding off on eating a second pastry, anything you can do to improve your health is important. Especially if you have diabetes. Living your life in such a way where your body gets the N.O. it needs will help you handle those pesky blood sugars in a safe and healthy way.


It helps the immune system

The last thing we want to talk about is how nitric oxide helps aid and maintain your immune system.

Your immune system is made of layers. The outer layer includes your skin and digestive tract. These organs are designed to keep dangerous pathogens from entering your body. But if they somehow fail to keep bacteria and viruses out of your body, there are second and third lines of defense.

White blood cells, which consume bacteria and other harmful microbes, are one of those secondary lines of defense. Scientists have found that, as your white blood cells go to work eating microbes in your body, they actually release nitric oxide.

The nitric oxide they release helps regulate their microbe killing activities.

What we should take away from this is that your immune system needs nitric oxide just as much as it needs vitamin C or zinc. These minerals all play an important role in keeping our bodies happy and healthy. Without that strong immune system, we’re more likely to come down with a bug that will leave us feeling lethargic and unhappy.

If we want to prevent that as much as possible, we need to protect our immune systems. That means taking vitamin C. That means taking zinc. That means washing our hands. And thanks to researchers, we now know that also means watching our nitric oxide levels.

How Is Nitric Oxide Produced In The Body?

So, now that you’ve heard of all the benefits of having nitric oxide-rich blood, you’re probably wondering how nitric oxide is produced in the body.

A lot of your nitric oxide is produced by the walls of your blood vessels. These walls are known as the endothelium. Your blood vessel walls either produce nitric oxide or stop producing it based on whether or not your brain tells them to. The nitric oxide these walls produce works as a chemical signal for the rest of the vein.

This is how your body controls the blood flow to various parts of the body.

When the vein walls make nitric oxide, what they’re doing is combining nitrates, arginine, and oxygen. Combining these chemicals produces citrulline and nitric oxide. Studies have shown that people who do not have enough citrulline and arginine in their systems cannot produce a sufficient amount of nitric oxide. In some cases, shortages of these amino acids have even resulted in neonatal health issues.

If you don’t have enough nitric oxide in your blood, then you’ll have a hard time getting the needed oxygen to different parts of your body. Without enough oxygen, your body can’t perform the chemical reactions necessary to make more nitric oxide. 

Talk about cyclical!

Since you need raw materials to make nitric oxide, and you need nitric oxide to get those raw materials where they need to go, it’s obvious that a holistic approach to increasing your blood’s nitric oxide levels is the only way to go.

What Are The Best Ways To Increase Your Nitric Oxide?

If you’re looking to increase your nitric oxide blood levels or at least maintain them, you should try a multi-faceted, holistic approach. Here are some tips for holistically raising your body’s nitric oxide levels. And make sure to consider trying all of these tips so you can experience the beneficial compounding effects of your efforts.


Eat nitrates.

If you want to increase your body’s nitric oxide levels, you’re going to have to give it the raw materials it needs. And one of the most important raw materials your body will need, of course, are nitrates, so one of the best things you can do to increase your nitrate consumption is eating better.


Some nitrates-rich foods include:
  • Beets
  • Leafy greens
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Cabbage
  • Radishes
  • Celery
  • Collard greens

Basically, any sort of root vegetable or plant that grows directly out of the ground (as opposed to growing from a stem or flower) is going to be rich in nitrates. We will say, however, that beets are by far and away, one of the best sources of nitrates out there.

Another food group that is worth adding to your diet is the polyphenol. These are types of antioxidants that can help aid nitric oxide production.


Foods rich in polyphenols include:
  • Fruits
  • Chocolate (cocoa)
  • Garlic
  • Red wine
  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Soy

So you can even indulge in some of your favorite goodies while increasing your nitric oxide intake! (All within moderation of course)

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting plenty of arginine – that’s an amino acid. Think of amino acids as the basic building blocks that make up different proteins. Arginine is also an essential ingredient in nitric oxide production.


Foods rich in arginine include:
  • Turkey
  • Seafood
  • Dairy
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Eating healthy is a good idea for so many obvious reasons. You could probably list off 20 different reasons right off the bat, so let “increasing nitric oxide” be reason 21.


Breathe in, breathe out.

Another important ingredient in nitric oxide is oxygen. That’s where the “oxide” comes from, after all. The best way to increase your oxygen will come as no surprise to anyone:

You have to breathe.

The more you breathe, the more oxygen you’ll have, and one of the easiest ways to breathe more than normal is by exercising. More specifically, by doing cardio.

You should do cardio at least three times a week to give your body a much-needed boost in oxygen. And as an added bonus, cardio is good for your heart, lungs, and waistline.

Here’s one more fitness hack for you. If you breathe in through your nose, you’ll get more nitric oxide in your blood than if you just breathe through your mouth. Your body stores some nitric oxide in your nasal cavity.

Regardless of whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth, the most important thing is that you get your body more oxygen than it normally does.

Just remember: breathe in, breathe out.


Health Benefits Of Nitric Oxide Supplements

Aside from nutrition and exercise, another thing you can do to manage your nitric oxide levels is to take an N.O. supplement.

If you want to increase your antioxidants, you drink a green smoothie. If you want to improve your immune system, you take a vitamin C supplement. If you want to gain more muscle mass, you consume more protein.


A nitric oxide supplement is no different.

A good nitric oxide supplement will help you get more of the benefits you’re looking for from increased N.O. levels. The trick is finding a good supplement.

How Does N.O. Pro™’s Formula Help You Reach Your Goals?

Here at Zhou Nutrition, we made a fantastic N.O. supplement called N.O. Pro™.


Here’s what makes it so good.

Arginine – Each serving of N.O. Pro™ contains two types of arginine. One is L-arginine HCl and the other is arginine alpha-ketoglutarate. Both versions of arginine come in hefty 1200mg doses. We wanted to make sure you got as much arginine as possible, so we mixed two into our supplement for better absorption.

Citrulline malate – Remember how we mentioned that higher citrulline levels are correlated with higher levels of nitric oxide? We added 610mg of citrulline malate to help give your body more of what it needs.

Beet root – Of course we were going to offer some straightforward sources of amino acids like arginine and citrulline, but we wanted to provide some natural nourishment as well. That’s why we put 160mg of beet root into every serving of N.O. Pro™. That way you could get added nutrition from both supplements and natural sources.

Whether you choose N.O. Pro™ or not, just remember that all supplements are just that, they’re supplements. N.O. Pro™ and other nitric oxide capsules are meant to aid and supplement your current efforts to improve your nitric oxide levels  – they’re not meant to replace them.

So if you want to increase your nitric oxide, you’ll still have to eat right and do cardio, but a supplement can help further move things along.

Nitric Oxide Will Help You Reach Your Health Goals

Whether you’re wanting to lose some weight, gain some muscle or just maintain your current health, you could probably use some help.

Increased nitric oxide can help maintain your energy levels and increase the amount of oxygen-rich blood your muscles get throughout the day.

If you’re looking for help maintaining those levels, consider improving your diet, running more, and taking an N.O. supplement. This is a healthy, holistic approach to N.O. maintenance that will help get you a little closer to living your best, healthiest life.