Is the nitric oxide promise for better workouts for real?

Physical exercise

working out

By pH health care professionals

People looking for the latest thing to get a better workout with better results are increasingly turning to nitric oxide (NO). In addition to more productive workouts with greater workout tolerance, there are claims for increases in muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness to boot. As you can imagine, medical supplement stores are working to meet this demand by offering a variety of powders and supplements with so-called nitric oxide enhancers. But is the hype and promise real or will NO go the way of other exercise fads of the past? The answer may surprise you!

First, what is nitric oxide?

Nitric oxide (NO) is an important molecule that is involved in many physiologic processes in the body. It facilitates dilation of the very small vessels. This can have several positive effects such as improving oxygenation of cells or causing a decrease in blood pressure and decreasing the workload of the heart.

What does all this have to do with your workout?

The verdict is that nitric oxide enhancers can indeed improve your workout, but a lot will depend on your age, training status, the mix of exercises you do, and what type of NO enhancing supplement you take.  While NO was shown to extend maximum exercise capacity in middle-age and older men (50-65 years) the same was not necessarily true with highly trained individuals in their 20s and 30s.  But even in this latter group, individuals did report positive results.  So the answer is a “yes, but…”

What are these nitric oxide enhancers?

Research of NO enhancers has focused on three key substances. These are:

  •        L-Arginine:  An amino acid necessary to form proteins. It is found in fish, poultry, red meat, dairy products, various nuts and coconut. L-Arginine is converted in the body to nitric oxide. In addition to supporting exercise, this amino acid has also been linked to improving mental function and to human growth hormone production. Effective daily doses may range from 700mg to 20g in divided doses (two or three times a day).
  •        L-Citrulline:  A naturally occurring amino acid. It is a precursor of L-Arginine and can be easily converted to it (and then to nitric oxide). It is found in foods like watermelons and is also naturally produced by the body. L-Citrulline is also used for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, fatigue, muscle weakness, sickle cell disease, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Health benefits seem to be similar to arginine including improved exercise performance and circulation. L-Citrulline seems to work at even lower doses (1-3g) compared to arginine.
  •        Agmatin:  Agmatin is a natural compound made by a slight chemical alteration of arginine. Agmatin is associated with nitric oxide enhancing qualities. Dosages are not clearly, established but studies that showed positive results were done at 1300-2500mg of Agmatin daily.

So what should you do?

 Before using any NO enhancers, you should first speak with a qualified health care professional to discuss the pros and cons of their use and to determine which ones may be right for you.  There are also tests available that can determine what your levels of amino acids are so you can more accurately determine what dosages you should take.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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