Nitric Oxide and Light Being Presentation

Improve your brain and body with Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide may Boost Brain Function

January 3, 2013 by J Banks 

Fuzzy  memory, forgetfulness, poor concentration, and even dementia may be  caused in part due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.  Your body and  even your brain can’t be truly healthy unless you are generating optimal  amounts of nitric oxide leading to optimum blood flow and nutrient  delivery.   You brain, while only about 2% of your body’s mass consumes  an astounding 25% of your body’s requirement of oxygen.  A lack of  adequate blood flow to the brain bringing in nutrients and removing  wastes, increases your risks for neuro-degenerative diseases such as  Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias.  A lack of blood flow can  also cause a reduction in brain performance.

From  the Neurology Journal: “About one quart of blood normally flows through  the brain every minute. If the amount of blood flow is less than it  should be, the brain cannot work efficiently. This can lead to memory  loss and other symptoms.”

Nitric oxide is a  signaling molecule in the body that tells the blood vessels to expand,  allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to the organs and tissues.  And  once you hit about 40 years old, your body only produces about half of  the nitric oxide it produced when you were younger.  But it is essential  to proper tissue function, especially the brain.  Nitric oxide allows  the blood vessels to open, bringing in more oxygen to the brain while  removing waste products.  So proper amounts of nitric oxide can help  keep your brain younger, longer.

Not only does  nitric oxide increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain, it also  appears to be a key signaling molecule between brain cells.  Medical  Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit at the University of Leicester  shows that nitric oxide can affect the brains computational ability.  NO  has the ability to carry information between neurons without using the  synapses.  This makes NO very powerful, but also an overdose very toxic.  Because nitric oxide only exists for such a short time before it is  metabolized, it has proven difficult to study. However, the results so  far have been exciting!

Nitric oxide is a vital molecule produced in your body that impacts many aspects of health.

It  helps blood vessels dilate to promote proper blood flow and may provide  various health benefits, including improved exercise performance, lower  blood pressure and better brain function (1, 2, 3, 4).

Switching  up your diet is one of the best and most effective ways to naturally  boost levels of this important molecule. Here are the 10 best foods to  boost your nitric oxide levels. The 10 Best Foods to Boost Nitric Oxide Levels:

1. Beets

Beets are rich in dietary nitrates, which your body can convert to nitric oxide.

According to one study in 38 adults, consuming a beetroot juice supplement increased nitric oxide levels by 21% after just 45 minutes (5).

Similarly,  another study showed that drinking 3.4 ounces (100 ml) of beetroot  juice significantly increased nitric oxide levels in both men and women (6).

Thanks  to their rich content of dietary nitrates, beets have been linked to a  number of health benefits, including improved cognitive function,  enhanced athletic performance and lower blood pressure levels (7, 8, 9).

Summary Beets are high in nitrates, which can significantly increase levels of nitric oxide in your body.

2. Garlic

Garlic  can boost nitric oxide levels by activating nitric oxide synthase, the  enzyme that aids in the conversion of nitric oxide from the amino acid  L-arginine (10).

One  animal study showed that aged garlic extract temporarily increased  blood nitric oxide levels by up to 40% within an hour of consumption (11).

Another  test-tube study found that aged garlic extract also helped maximize the  amount of nitric oxide that can be absorbed by the body (12).

Both human and animal studies indicate that garlic’s ability to increase nitric oxide levels may have a beneficial effect on health and can help lower blood pressure and improve exercise tolerance (13, 14).

Summary  Garlic can enhance the bioavailability of nitric oxide and may increase  levels of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that converts L-arginine to  nitric oxide.

3. Meat

Meat, poultry and seafood are all excellent sources of coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10 — an important compound believed to help preserve nitric oxide in the body (15).

In  fact, it’s estimated that the average diet contains between 3–6 mg of  CoQ10, with meat and poultry supplying about 64% of the total intake (16, 17).

Organ meats, fatty fish and muscle meats like beef, chicken and pork contain the highest concentration of CoQ10.

Studies  show that getting enough CoQ10 in your diet not only preserves nitric  oxide but can also help improve athletic performance, prevent migraines  and promote heart health (18, 19, 20).

Summary Meat, poultry and seafood are high in CoQ10, a key compound that helps preserve nitric oxide in your body.

4. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is loaded with flavanols — naturally occurring compounds that boast an extensive list of powerful health benefits.

In particular, research shows that the flavanols found in cocoa  can help establish optimal levels of nitric oxide in your body to  promote heart health and protect cells against oxidative damage (21).

One  15-day study in 16 people showed that consuming 30 grams of dark  chocolate daily led to significant increases in nitric oxide levels in  the blood.

What’s more, participants experienced  decreases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels — the top  and bottom number of the blood pressure reading (22).

Because  of its rich content of nitric-oxide-boosting flavanols, dark chocolate  has been associated with improved blood flow, enhanced brain function  and a lower risk of heart disease, too (23, 24, 25).

Summary  Dark chocolate is high in cocoa flavanols, which increase levels of  nitric oxide to promote heart health and prevent cell damage.

5. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale and cabbage are packed with nitrates, which are converted to nitric oxide in your body (26).

According  to one review, regular consumption of nitrate-rich foods like green  leafy vegetables can help maintain sufficient levels of nitric oxide in  the blood and tissues (27).

One  study even showed that eating a nitrate-rich meal containing spinach  increased salivary nitrate levels eightfold and significantly decreased  systolic blood pressure (the top number) (28).

Other  research has found that consuming high-nitrate leafy greens may also be  associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cognitive decline (29, 30).

Summary  Leafy green vegetables are high in dietary nitrates, which can be  converted to nitric oxide and may help maintain proper levels in your  blood and tissues.

6. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit are all excellent sources of vitamin C, an important water-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in health (31).

Vitamin C can enhance levels of nitric oxide by increasing its bioavailability and maximizing its absorption in the body (32).

Research shows that it may also bump up levels of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme needed for the production of nitric oxide (33, 34).

Studies  indicate that citrus fruit consumption may be linked to decreased blood  pressure, improved brain function and a lower risk of heart disease —  all of which may be due in part to their ability to boost nitric oxide  levels (35, 36, 37).

Summary  Citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which can enhance the  bioavailability of nitric oxide and increase levels of nitric oxide  synthase.

7. Pomegranate

Pomegranate is loaded with potent antioxidants that can protect your cells against damage and preserve nitric oxide.

One  test-tube study showed that pomegranate juice was effective in  protecting nitric oxide from oxidative damage while also increasing its  activity (38).

Another  animal study found that both pomegranate juice and pomegranate fruit  extract were able to increase levels of nitric oxide synthase and boost  the concentration of nitrates in the blood (39).

Human  and animal studies have found that antioxidant-rich pomegranate can  improve blood flow, which may be especially beneficial in treating  conditions like high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction (40, 41).

Summary  Pomegranate can help protect nitric oxide against damage, enhance the  activity of nitric oxide and increase levels of nitric oxide synthesis.

8. Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in arginine, a type of amino acid that is involved in the production of nitric oxide.

Some  research suggests that including arginine from foods like nuts and  seeds in your diet can help increase nitric oxide levels in your body.

For  example, one study in 2,771 people showed that a higher intake of  arginine-rich foods was associated with higher levels of nitric oxide in  the blood (42).

Another small study found that supplementing with arginine increased levels of nitric oxide after just two weeks (43).

Thanks to their arginine content and stellar nutrient profile, regularly eating nuts and seeds has been associated with lower blood pressure, improved cognition and increased endurance (44, 45, 46, 47).

Summary Nuts and seeds are high in arginine, an amino acid needed for the production of nitric oxide.

9. Watermelon

Watermelon  is one of the best sources of citrulline, an amino acid that’s  converted to arginine and, ultimately, nitric oxide in your body.

One  small study found that citrulline supplements helped stimulate nitric  oxide synthesis after just a few hours but noted that it may take longer  to see positive effects on health (48).

Meanwhile,  another study in eight men showed that drinking 10 ounces (300 ml) of  watermelon juice for two weeks led to significant improvements in nitric  oxide bioavailability (49).

Recent  research suggests that upping your intake of watermelon not only  enhances nitric oxide levels but can also improve exercise performance,  decrease blood pressure and boost blood flow (50).

Summary Watermelon is high in citrulline, which is converted to arginine and then later used in the production of nitric oxide.

10. Red Wine

Red wine contains many powerful antioxidants and has been tied to a multitude of health benefits (51).

Interestingly, some studies have found that drinking red wine could also increase levels of nitric oxide.

One  test-tube study showed that treating cells with red wine increased  levels of nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme involved in the production of  nitric oxide (52).

Another  test-tube study had similar findings, reporting that certain compounds  found in red wine enhanced nitric oxide synthase and increased the  release of nitric oxide from the cells that line the blood vessels (53).

For  this reason, it’s not surprising that moderate consumption of red wine,  one glass per day, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve  heart health (54, 55).

Summary Red wine can increase levels of nitric oxide synthase, which can help enhance nitric oxide levels.

The Bottom Line

Nitric  oxide is a crucial compound involved in many aspects of health,  including blood pressure regulation, athletic performance and brain  function.

Making a few simple swaps in your diet can be an easy and effective way to increase your levels of nitric oxide naturally.

Eating  plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy protein foods can  optimize nitric oxide levels while also promoting better overall health  in the process.

Written by Rachael Link, MS, RD on September 25, 2018

5 Ways to Increase Nitric Oxide Naturally

Nitric oxide is a molecule that’s produced naturally by your body, and it’s important for many aspects of your health.

Its  most important function is vasodilation, meaning it relaxes the inner  muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen and increase  circulation.

Nitric oxide production is essential  for overall health because it allows blood, nutrients and oxygen to  travel to every part of your body effectively and efficiently.

In fact, a limited capacity to produce nitric oxide is associated with heart disease, diabetes and erectile dysfunction.

Fortunately, there are many ways to maintain optimal levels of nitric oxide in your body.

Here are the top 5 ways to increase nitric oxide naturally.

1. Eat Vegetables High in Nitrates

Nitrate, a compound found in certain vegetables, is one of the many reasons vegetables are healthy for you.

Vegetables high in nitrate include (1):  


Water Cress






When  these foods are consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide,  which confers a wide range of health benefits related to heart health  and exercise performance.

In fact, several  analyses have shown that eating nitrate-rich vegetables can lower blood  pressure as much as some blood pressure medications (2, 3, 4, 5).

Strong evidence favors nitrates, especially from beetroot, for improving exercise performance in athletes (6, 7, 8, 9).

Despite the effects that nitrates have on nitric oxide production in your body, some people avoid them for fear they are harmful and contribute to cancer.

This is likely because sodium nitrates are commonly used as a preservative and color fixative in bacon, cold cuts and hot dogs.

Eating these foods is linked to bowel cancer, and nitrates are thought to be the culprit (10, 11).

Nitrates can form N-nitroso compounds, such as nitrosamine, which are capable of causing cancer.

However,  vegetables, which account for more than 80 percent of nitrate intake,  contain antioxidants like vitamin C, which help prevent the formation of  N-nitroso compounds (12).

Therefore, nitrates from vegetables are harmless, whereas nitrates in processed meats can be troublesome to health, particularly when consumed in excess over long periods (13).

Summary  Vegetables are good sources of nitrates, which help form nitric oxide  in your body. Consuming nitrate-rich vegetables improves heart health  and exercise performance.

2. Increase Your Intake of Antioxidants

Nitric oxide is an unstable molecule that degrades quickly in the bloodstream, so it must be constantly replenished (14).

One way to increase its stability and limit its breakdown is by consuming antioxidants.

Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, which contribute to the short life of nitric oxide (15).

These  antioxidants are found in all foods but primarily those of plant  origin, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains.

A few important antioxidants include:

Vitamin C:       This antioxidant helps your body form connective tissues,  including skin,      bones, tendons and cartilage. It also produces  brain chemicals that help      nerve cells communicate (16).

Vitamin E:       This antioxidant protects cells from the damaging effects of free       radicals, which are thought to contribute to aging and disease. It  also      plays an important role in keeping the immune system strong (17, 18).

Polyphenols:       This category of antioxidants is associated with several health  benefits,      including a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular  disease (19).

Glutathione:      Coined “the mother of all      antioxidants,” glutathione is the master antioxidant and detoxifier of    every cell in your body.

Several studies have found that  ingesting nitric oxide precursors, such as nitrate or citrulline, with  antioxidants maintains greater levels of nitric oxide in your body by  helping reduce its breakdown (20, 21, 22, 23).

Vegetables  that are high in nitrate are also inherently high in antioxidants,  which is likely why vegetables are so effective at increasing and  maintaining optimal levels of nitric oxide (3).

Summary Antioxidants help decrease the breakdown and extend the life of nitric oxide in your body.

3. Use Nitric-Oxide-Boosting Supplements

Several dietary supplements are marketed as “nitric oxide boosters.”

These supplements don’t contain nitric oxide itself, but they include ingredients that help form nitric oxide in your body.

Two of the most commonly used ingredients are L-arginine and L-citrulline.


L-arginine  is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning it only has to be  consumed in the diet under certain conditions, while healthy adults can  make all they need (24).

It directly produces nitric oxide through a process called the L-arginine-NO pathway.

Several studies support the use of L-arginine for increasing blood flow, but only in certain populations.

In those with high blood pressure, including pregnant women, L-arginine is effective at lowering blood pressure (25, 26, 27, 28).

However,  evidence on the ability of L-arginine to improve blood flow or exercise  performance in healthy individuals remains mixed (29, 30, 31, 32).

L-arginine  is generally recognized as safe when taking 20 grams per day, but it  may cause digestive symptoms at dosages as low as 10 grams (33, 34).


L-citrulline is a dispensable amino acid, meaning your body can make all it needs.

When L-arginine is converted to nitric oxide, L-citrulline is produced as a byproduct.

L-citrulline can then be recycled back to L-arginine and used to increase your body’s natural production of nitric oxide.

In  fact, L-citrulline increases levels of L-arginine in your body more  than supplementing with L-arginine itself does. This is because a large  percentage of L-arginine is broken down before reaching your bloodstream  (35).

Studies have found L-citrulline to increase blood flow, improve exercise performance and lower blood pressure (36, 37, 38, 39).

L-citrulline is considered relatively safe, and there is a low risk of side effects, even with high doses (40).

Summary  The amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline are used to produce nitric  oxide in your body. They are available as supplements and have  beneficial effects on vascular health and blood flow.

4. Limit Your Use of Mouthwash

Mouthwash destroys bacteria in your mouth that can contribute to the growth of cavities and other dental diseases.

Unfortunately, mouthwash kills all types of bacteria, including the beneficial ones that help produce nitric oxide.

Special  bacteria in the mouth convert nitrate to nitric oxide. In fact, humans  cannot produce nitric oxide from nitrate without these bacteria (41).

Research has shown that mouthwash kills the oral bacteria needed to produce nitric oxide for up to 12 hours (42, 43).

This leads to a decrease in nitric oxide production and, in some instances, an increase in blood pressure (44, 45).

The  detrimental effects of mouthwash on nitric oxide production may even  contribute to the development of diabetes, which is characterized by  malfunctions in insulin production or action.

This  is because nitric oxide also regulates insulin, which helps cells  utilize the energy obtained from food after it’s digested. Without  nitric oxide, insulin cannot work properly.

One  study found that people who used mouthwash at least twice daily were  65% more likely to develop diabetes than those who never used mouthwash (46).

Therefore, to maintain adequate nitric oxide production, it’s best to use mouthwash sparingly.

Summary  Mouthwash kills many types of bacteria in the mouth, including the ones  that help produce nitric oxide. This limits your body’s ability to  produce nitric oxide, which can lead to high blood pressure and  diabetes.

5. Get Your Blood Flowing With Exercise

Exercise really does get your blood pumping, largely because it improves endothelial function.

Endothelium  refers to the thin layer of cells that line the blood vessels. These  cells produce nitric oxide, which keeps blood vessels healthy.