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Nitric oxide: what it is for and side effects

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Nitric oxide (NO), also known as nitrogen monoxide or nitrogen oxide, is an element present in our body that carries out neurotransmitter and vasodilator functions.

It has been used in the medical world for more than 100 years, initially due to the benefits it had for male erections, but little by little its field of action has been expanding and today it is widely used in the world. of sport.

Actually, when we acquire nitric oxide what we are doing is ingesting L-arginine, which will synthesize it so that we can obtain its properties. Then in the following FastlyHealarticle we will explain everything that may interest you about this element, Nitric Oxide: what it is for and side effects .

Nitric oxide: what it is and formula

Nitric oxide – whose formula is NO – is an element that in 1998 was discovered to be manufactured by the human body and to perform different functions in the human body. This discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize and, since then, research on the functions and benefits of nitric oxide has continued. Over time, all the cellular activities that it carries out have become known . At the moment these are the ones that are known:

  • It helps the transmission of information between brain cells, playing an important role in memory.
  • In the immune system it helps fight bacteria and tumors.
  • It dilates the arteries, regulating blood pressure.
  • Deflames.
  • It intervenes in the quality of sleep.
  • Improves strength and endurance.
  • Increases gastric motility.

Nitric oxide and the heart

Much of the attention nitric oxide has drawn is for the cardiovascular benefits it brings. Already in the twentieth century, more by trial and error than consciously nitroglycerin was used to treat certain heart problems. The fact is that nitroglycerin releases nitric oxide, which is why the blood vessels relax and the flow of blood and oxygen increases .

Later it was discovered that the inner layer of the arteries, called the endothelium, produces nitric oxide naturally. However, when cholesterol plaques accumulate in the arteries, a medical condition known as arteriosclerosis , the ability to produce this element is diminished. Artificial administration of nitric oxide is often part of the treatment of this disease.

Nitric oxide and erection

Among the causes of erectile dysfunction we find poor cardiovascular health. When the arteries do not carry enough blood flow, the sexual organs cannot receive the amount of blood they require to achieve an erection.

Many people do not know it, but most of the drugs for male erections , such as the well-known Viagra, act by influencing the pathway of nitric oxide, relaxing the arteries and improving the passage of blood through them to achieve quality erections.

Nitric oxide for bodybuilding

Over the years, the field of action of nitric oxide has expanded and its applications are increasing. In recent times this element has become an ally for bodybuilding practitioners and other athletes.

The supplements of L-arginine and L-citrulline, keys to synthesize nitric oxide, allow to increase the bloodstream and with it the flow of oxygen that reaches the muscles. In this way, strength and endurance are increased , allowing you to do higher quality workouts.

In addition, nitric oxide also promotes the elimination of lactic acid, shortening recovery times and minimizing fatigue caused by training.

But it is not only useful for those people who want to exploit their physique to the fullest. There are certain factors and circumstances that can reduce nitric oxide levels:

  • Age
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Diets high in cholesterol and fat

In these cases, an increase in nitric oxide levels can revitalize the person, giving them more energy and strength. Now, it will be useless if you continue to lead a sedentary and harmful lifestyle.

How to increase nitric oxide: diet, supplements and how to take it

Here we will explain the best ways to obtain nitric oxide:


The most common, healthy and effective way to increase the amounts of nitric oxide in our body is through sports practice. When we exercise, for example lifting weights, our muscles increase the demand for oxygen. As it needs more oxygen, the heart must increase its pumping pressure so that enough oxygen-bearing blood reaches all the muscles, thereby releasing nitric oxide from the arteries, which relaxes the walls and allows more blood to pass through.

Of course, as the years go by and more if we have a bad diet or harmful lifestyle habits, these arteries deteriorate so that the release of rust is less and less.


Another natural way to increase nitric oxide levels is with the consumption of certain foods that are rich in L-arginine and L-citrulline:

  • Nuts
  • Fruit
  • Beef liver
  • Dairy products
  • Shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables

Nitric Oxide Supplements

Nitric oxide can be purchased at certain specialty stores for diet products and food supplements. These supplements are usually focused on athletes, so it is recommended to consume 2 capsules daily, 3 if you are a high-performance athlete, taking the portions one hour before each training.

Nitric oxide side effects


One of the main side effects of using nitric oxide is that it can lead to hypotension. It is especially relevant in those people who normally have low blood pressure, so if they use this product they can see that blood pressure drops even more, reducing the final blood flow.

Cellular aging

There is no magic product, anything has its advantages and disadvantages. Another problem with nitric oxide is that it can stimulate cell aging, since this substance can release a lot of free radicals . However, if while we use nitric oxide we ingest abundant antioxidants, we can reduce its effects to the maximum.

Digestive problems

When we eat we need the blood to focus mainly on the stomach, so that we can digest food and properly assimilate all its nutrients. The problem is that when we take nitric oxide, it carries blood to the muscles, forgetting about the stomach and causing digestive problems. To prevent this from happening, what we must do is take it outside of eating hours, do not eat anything 2 hours before taking nitric oxide.

Other recommendations

  • In addition to the side effects that we have already explained, it is essential that you know that this is not a supplement that you can take for a long time, in fact it is designed to take it for 2 or 3 months and rest for the same time.
  • Another necessary indication is that it should only be taken when you are going to exercise and, obviously, never take it without medical consent, especially if we suffer from a chronic disease.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Nitric oxide: what it is for and side effects , we recommend that you enter our Wellbeing category .

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