Nitric Oxide: The Missing Link?


I am always hesitant to recommend supplementation to my patients for several reasons. My primary reason is that I myself don’t prefer taking supplements EVERY SINGLE DAY. Reason #1: It gets old taking an assortment of supplements day in and day out. Reason #2: It’s expensive!

I spent two years of bodybuilding in college. I learned that taking supplements is just a way of life in that arena. The funny thing is that I never felt a big difference from day to day while I was taking them or when I stopped taking them. I’d like to mention that these were not banned anabolic substances or performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). These were your everyday supplements like protein powder, casein powder, creatine powder, BCAA’s, etc.

Supplements are designed to supplement your diet with deficient nutrients, whether micronutrients or macronutrients. However, our diet, as a whole, is becoming more and more deficient in nutrients than ever before. Through continuing education classes, I’ve recently learned about nitric oxide’s importance in physiological function.

Nitric Oxide: A Scientific Breakthrough

Nitric oxide (NO) is a vital signaling molecule produced naturally in our bodies. It plays several crucial roles, especially in maintaining cardiovascular health. Here are some key points:

  1. Blood Vessel Health: NO acts as a vasodilator, relaxing the inner muscles of blood vessels. This widening effect enhances blood flow, which is essential for oxygen and nutrient delivery to tissues.
  2. Blood Pressure Regulation: By dilating blood vessels, NO helps lower blood pressure. Proper blood pressure is crucial for overall health and preventing conditions like hypertension.
  3. Exercise Performance: NO supplements may enhance athletic performance. Improved blood flow means better oxygen delivery to muscles during exercise, potentially reducing fatigue and enhancing endurance.
  4. Reducing Muscle Soreness: Citrulline malate, a form of L-citrulline (an amino acid), increases NO production and decreases post-workout muscle soreness. This benefit can be especially valuable for patients recovering from injuries or engaging in physical therapy.
  5. Erectile Function: NO is essential for penile blood flow. Supplements like L-citrulline and L-arginine can boost NO levels, potentially improving erectile function.

Natural Sources and Supplements

While our bodies produce NO, specific dietary sources and supplements can enhance its availability:

  • L-Citrulline: Found in watermelon, nuts, and legumes, L-citrulline increases NO production. It’s a safe and well-tolerated supplement.
  • L-Arginine: Another amino acid, L-arginine, supports NO synthesis. Combining it with French maritime pine bark extract has shown promise in treating erectile dysfunction.


As a rule, I don’t recommend anything to my patients I don’t use or have experience with. I’m not as big of a proponent of supplements as I am of eating whole, nutrient-rich foods. However, I have started supplementing nitric oxide into my healthcare regimen while training for a triathlon. While not every person is training for a high-level endurance event, it is widely accepted that more blood flow and, thus, more tissue oxygenation can benefit any person and improve their health.

Always consult with your chosen healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Supplementing nitric oxide can be a powerful ally in maintaining optimal physiological function!

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