Nitric Oxide: Benefits, Side Effects, Foods, And Natural Ways To Increase Nitric Oxide Levels

Nitric Oxide supplements sold online are super popular these days.

However, very few people looking to buy nitric oxide boosting pills and supplements truly understand what Nitric Oxide is.

Nitric Oxide

BTW if you are wondering: No, the nitric oxide in your body is not the same as your dentist’s laughing gas or a racing car’s high-performance fuel.

So, if you guessed wrong, read this article as I’ve done my best to simplify all the complex information to make Nitric Oxide into an easy-to-grasp concept.

I’ve also tried to include all the crucial information, along with answers to questions I had when I first heard of Nitric oxide all those years ago.

And to put the cherry on top, I’ve included natural ways of improving nitric oxide, including using foods, exercise, and supplements.

What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric Oxide is a colorless gas and a free radical molecule that your body produces.

Its primary task is to improve cell-to-cell communication and signal transmissions between your 50 trillion cells throughout the body.

As for the Nitric Oxide formula: it’s NO with 1 Nitrogen and 1 Oxygen atom:

Nitric Oxide Formula

Along with improving cell-to-cell communication, NO is also responsible for promoting blood flow and manage blood pressure by supporting vasodilation. In short, vasodilation dilates the blood vessels in your arteries and veins, improving blood flow to the muscles.
Supplements that promote nitric oxide focus on providing this vasodilation effect. This improves athletic performance, muscle gain, and improved sexual health due to the enhanced flow of oxygenated blood (and nutrients) throughout the body. 

However, these supplements don’t contain nitric oxide itself. Instead, the supplements use ingredients that promote NO production or that are broken down into NO in your body.

The many benefits of higher nitric oxide levels include improving workout performance, combating ED (erectile dysfunction), and reducing the risk of heart disease.

How Does The Body Produce Nitric Oxide?

Your body can produce NO from nitrates in foods like green leafy vegetables, cereals, and fruits.

Internally, however, the body can also produce NO by converting the amino acid L-Arginine using the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS).

In-depth Explanation On NOS:

NOS has three isoforms which include Neuronal NOS (nNOS or NOS I), Endothelial NOS (eNOS or NOS III), and Inducible NOS (iNOS or NOS II).

Both the neuronal NOS and endothelial NOS are found in skeletal muscles, endothelial cells, neurons, and other tissues. Additionally, the body has a relatively steady amount of each. On the other hand, inflammatory conditions when specific cytokines are triggered stimulate inducible NOS.

What Depletes Nitric Oxide In Your Body?

  • Insufficient intake of L-Arginine and dietary nitrates:
    Poor intake of nitrates results in reduced NO production and poor blood pressure control.
  • Sedentary lifestyle:
    Regular exercise stimulates NO production while a sedentary lifestyle with little to no exercise can slow down Nitric Oxide production.
  • Obesity:
    Obese men and women are more likely to have lower Nitric Oxide levels.
  • Mental stress:
    Higher stress levels elevate cortisol but lower nitric oxide levels.
  • Some prescription medications:
    Meds like PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors) used for heartburn (like Nexium, Dexilant, and Prilosec) can suppress NO production.
  • Overuse of mouthwash:
    Frequent use of mouthwash can kill the NO producing bacteria which aid in converting nitrate into NO.
  • Aging:
    As you get older, your body causes a slow decline in Nitric Oxide production. This is why men and women are more susceptible to experiencing high blood pressure and strokes in their 40s and 50s.

Nitric Oxide Depletion Due To Aging

What Are The Dangers Of Low Nitric Oxide Levels?

The danger of having low Nitric Oxide levels is it increases the chance of suffering from high blood pressure, heart attacks or stroke.

With low Nitric Oxide levels, the muscles in the blood vessels contract and narrow, increasing blood pressure and slowing blood flow to the muscles.

Depleted Nitric Oxide levels also make platelets in the blood to become stickier, increasing the chance of clumping together to form blood clots.

Blood clots are helpful for when we cut ourselves. But blood clots also result in a significant number of heart attacks and strokes cases.

Some of the most common symptoms of low Nitric Oxide levels (Nitric Oxide deficiency) include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Increased fatigue
  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced memory
  • Weaker bone strength
  • Lower focus and concentration
  • Reduced heart function
  • Depression
  • Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
  • Poor lung function or asthma
  • Reduced stamina and endurance
  • Low energy levels
  • Poor workout performance

While these symptoms may indicate low levels of Nitric Oxide, the most accurate way to find out if you have Nitric Oxide deficiency is to get a test done.

Is It Necessary To Get A Nitric Oxide Blood Test?

A few years back, you needed to have an expensive blood test or a Flow Mediated Dilation test done to find out your NO levels. However, that’s in the past, and now you can find your Nitric Oxide levels from the comfort of your home, and without losing a single drop of blood.

The new NO salivary test strips provide a simple indication of whether your nitric oxide levels are depleted, low, threshold, optimal, or high.  

All these strips need is a drop of your saliva, and they provide results within seconds. The strips work by reacting to the nitrates that are present in the saliva. It’s said that the ideal time to check NO levels with these strips is in the morning before brushing your teeth or eating/drinking anything.

Most Nitric Oxide Strips costs around 60c per strip and make a great tool to use periodically to measure NO levels and maximize your workouts.

What Does Nitric Oxide Do To Your Body?

Nitric Oxide acts upon: Effects of Nitric Oxide on the body:
  • Produced in excessive amounts when lungs/airways have inflammations
  • Dilates pulmonary vessels
  • Combats pulmonary hypertension and other disorders
Cardiovascular system
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves flexibility of heart muscles
  • Supports vascular tone
  • Relieves angina pain by dilating vessels
  • Prevents blood clots from forming
Immune system
  • Supports healthy T cell-mediated immune response
Nervous system
  • Effective as a neurotransmitter
  • Stimulates penile erections when sexually aroused
  • Improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain
Gastrointestinal tract
  • Supports sphincter function
  • Helps regulate muscle relaxation
Renal system
  • Increases urine production
  • Boosts glomerular filtration rate
  • Improves blood flow to the kidney

Does Nitric Oxide Affect Your Blood Pressure?

The major reason men and women are using nitric oxide supplements are so that they can experience the benefits of vasodilation. With vasodilation, blood vessels dilate, and blood flow to the muscles is increased.
As the blood vessels in the body dilate due to vasodilation, you can expect a drop in blood pressure.

This is why many high blood pressure medications contain vasodilators. However, if you are someone with low blood pressure, proceed with caution with nitric oxide boosters, and this can lower your blood pressure further if the dosage is incorrect.

Nitric Oxide And Blood Pressure Relationship

What Are The Benefits Of Higher Nitric Oxide Levels?

  • Nitric Oxide Improves Erection Health And Combats ED:
    NO relaxes the blood vessels and smooth muscles in the penis, improving blood flow. It also allows more blood to be stored in the penile chambers which provides harder erections and helps combat erectile dysfunction.
  • Nitric Oxide Reduces Muscle Soreness:
    NO is proven to reduce Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness by 40% in 24-48 hours post-exercise in a 41-person study on Citrulline Malate. It improves the delivery of nutrients and oxygenated blood while ejecting waste products like lactate and ammonia to reduce muscle soreness.
  • Nitric Oxide Improves Exercise Performance:
    NO improves workout performance because of the increase in oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. The widening of the blood vessels also improves burst-energy levels, improving exercise performance.
  • Nitric Oxide May Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes:
    NO is found to increase insulin sensitivity and promote better blood sugar control in several studies with participants having type 2 diabetes.
  • Nitric Oxide Boosts Immune System:
    NO is used in the immune system as a defensive molecule against bacteria and pathogens. It regulates the production, activity, and breakdown of several types of immune and inflammatory cells.
  • Nitric Oxide Improves Cognitive Performance:
    NO improves blood and oxygen flow to the brain while helping to eject the waste and toxins that are naturally created. Studies have shown that an increase in nitric oxide can improve memory and cognitive function while reducing inflammations and effects of oxidative stress.
  • Nitric Oxide May Combat Cancer:
    NO may combat cancer since it can signal the cancer cells to destroy themselves. However, the downside of NO for cancer is that it also promotes blood vessel growth which can speed up cancer growth. Some chemo drugs use NO to combat cancer by triggering apoptosis (cancer cell death).

Can Too Much Nitric Oxide Be Harmful And Cause Side Effects?

Increasing your Nitric Oxide is very beneficial, but it’s also a fact that ‘too much of a good thing can be bad’ for you.

So, if your Nitric Oxide levels are abnormally high, you may experience one or more of the following side effects:

  • Stomach problems like diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Low blood pressure in users with already low BP
  • Hematologic disorders like elevated nitrogen dioxide levels and methemoglobinemia
  • Increased risk of stroke and septic shock
  • Metabolic disorders like high blood sugar or hyperglycemia
  • Respiratory Problems like stridor or atelectasis
  • Hypotension and increased chance of heart failure
  • Skin irritations, excessive sweating, or dry mouth
  • Electrolyte imbalance which may be harmful to those with liver or kidney disorders
  • Excessive bleeding from cuts or injuries
While these side effects are quite scary, it should be noted that elevating your body’s NO levels to such a dangerous level is not something that is easy to achieve. This is especially so with supplements with regulated doses or from nitric oxide boosting foods.

Is Nitric Oxide Good For The Heart?

Healthy Nitric Oxide levels are essential for your heart health.

This is because optimal NO levels improve the flexibility of blood vessels and endothelium (blood vessel lining) health. When this is combined with a regular exercise routine and low cholesterol levels, plaque build-up is curbed, and heart health is improved.

Nitric Oxide boosting medications are also used in countering heart conditions like Angina.

Nitric Oxide Improves Heart Health

What Is A Nitric Oxide Booster?

A nitric oxide booster is any food, drink, or exercise that works to boost the production/level of nitric oxide in the body. However, it’s the supplements and pills that boost NO levels that are synonyms with Nitric Oxide Boosters.
These Nitric Oxide Booster supplements often use ingredients like L-Arginine and L-Citrulline which are proved to provide a myriad of benefits.

NO boosters are also one of the most preferred methods of boosting Nitric oxide levels for professional athletes. However, nowadays, even novice bodybuilders and athletes are using these pills because of their performance boosting benefits.

How To Naturally Increase Nitric Oxide Levels?

  1. Eat more green veggies which have a higher concentration of nitrates.
  2. Practicing nasal breathing has been found to improve nitric oxide levels compared to mouth breathing.
  3. Reduce the use of mouthwash as this is shown to kill NO-producing bacteria in the mouth.
  4. Increase your antioxidant intake (especially with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Polyphenols, and Glutathione).
  5. Regularly work out and exercise as this is a known way to boost NO levels.
  6. Use Nitric Oxide supplements that contain L-Arginine, L-Citrulline, or other NO boosting ingredients.

What Are Some Simple Nitric Oxide Boosting Foods?

Nitric Oxide Foods

What Is The Nitric Oxide Dump Exercise?

When I first heard of the Nitric Oxide Dump workout, I was very confused as I thought I had misheard ‘dump’ instead of ‘pump.’ But a quick search on Google told me what I wanted to know.

The Nitric Oxide Dump is a new HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout developed by Dr. Zach Bush.

This exercise has gotten so popular that it’s been dubbed as a ‘Simple, short, and effective’ energy boosting exercise that promotes NO levels.

The workout is intended at men and women who don’t want to spend hours at the gym but want the benefits associated with HIIT workouts. This is why this quick and easy exercise only takes 3-4 minutes at a time and is recommended to be repeated 2-3 throughout the day.

Nitric Oxide Dump requires you to do three sets (with ten repetitions each) of:

  1. Squats
  2. Arm Raises
  3. Non-Jumping Jacks
  4. Shoulder Presses

I’ve also found a video by Dr. Zach Bush on how to do the Nitric Oxide Dump:

What’s The Best Way To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels?

We can all breath throughout our nose, eat a few more leafy greens, take some supplements every morning, and spend a few minutes a day doing some exercises.

However, which of these methods provides the most significant boost in NO levels?

These pills are made from L-Arginine, L-Citrulline, and other NO boosting ingredients. And when they are all combined with the proprietary formula for the supplement, their sole job is to supercharge your nitric oxide levels.

That said, exercising is very important for your NO levels, and a sedentary lifestyle with no exercise can drain your NO levels. As for the leafy greens, healthy foods provide more benefits than just a boost in nitric oxide.
So, if you want the ideal solution, do the exercises, eat your greens, take NO Max, and of course, breathe through your nose.

What Are The Top Nitric Oxide Supplements To Get A Ripped Physique?

  1. NO2 Max:
    NO2 Max by Crazy Bulk is our most popular nitric oxide booster for improved workout performance. Its 1800 mg dose of L-Arginine AKG promotes energy levels and better pumps while reducing muscle fatigue and soreness. This supplement allows you to improve your gym workouts to get a ripped physique quickly.
  2. D-Bal:
    D-Bal is a steroid alternative of Dianabol which promotes nitrogen retention for improved exercise performance. It contains several NO boosting ingredients like Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, and Tribulus Terrestris to help with improving workout performance. This supplement promotes a steroid-like boost in performance without any of the dangers of anabolic steroids.
While these pills are capable of boosting workout performance, there are ways in which you can get ripped in a month.

What About The Top Nitric Oxide Supplements For Better (And Longer-Lasting) Sex?

  1. Male Extra:
    Male Extra contains 600 mg of L-Arginine as well as other ingredients which helps supercharge your nitric oxide levels. When taken regularly, it makes for a natural and safe way to get harder erections and longer lasting sex.
  2. Maximizer Plus:
    Maximizer Plus is a penile enhancer which works by promoting vasodilation and engorging the penis with blood for harder erections. It’s popular as a non-surgical method of increasing penis size.
While these pills are capable of improving sexual performance, there are other ways to increase penis size and cum more.

What Method Of Boosting Nitric Oxide Levels Is Best For You?

If you are looking for the simplest way to boost nitric oxide, go for the pills. Choosing the right NO booster is also easy, whether it’s to maximize your workouts or to improve your sexual performance.

Nitric Oxide Boosters Are Effective At Increasing NO Levels

However, my recommendation is to apply as many of the mentioned methods of boosting NO levels as you can manage. This includes more leafy greens and antioxidant-rich foods in your diet, regular workouts, using less mouthwash, and taking NO boosters. And let’s not forget breathing through your nose, no matter how weird it sounds.

While used individually, most of these methods don’t provide a significant boost in nitric oxide levels.

However, following as many of these methods you can manage should provide a more noticeable boost in Nitric Oxide levels.

Where To Buy Nitric Oxide Boosting Products?

Nitric oxide boosters are easy to purchase as they are available online from the manufacturer’s websites, Amazon, or eBay. You can also get them in stores like Walmart, GNC and other department stores.


About Mikael Gomez

Mikael is a health nutrition expert and loves mountain biking. Mikael started his health product research journey in 2016 and still loves doing it. Apart from spending time on his study, research & literature, he plays basketball regularly and is a fitness freak. Follow Mikael on Linkedin