If you're just now discovering the gaseous molecule nitric oxide, you're probably wondering if it's good for you and if it really works. The truth is, nitric oxide is a vital gas that our bodies require to function optimally. But don't take our word for it; we've looked to the experts and are sharing what doctors and researchers need you to know about the role nitric oxide plays in your life.
Is nitric oxide good for you?
Yes, nitric oxide is good for you, and it's one of the reasons why your doctor(s) tell you to eat more vegetables. Once the gas nitric oxide is created in the body, it quickly diminishes, which is why we need to constantly supply our bodies with more nitrate from plants. Leveraging more antioxidants from fruits helps nitric oxide last longer. Here are some of the leading doctors advocating a nitrate-rich plant-based diet.
Dr. Louis Ignarro
Dr. Ignarro is one of three Nobel prize winners who discovered that our arterial cells produce nitric oxide and directly impact the functioning of arteries, the heart, and many other body processes. He focuses on nutritional supplementation for increasing nitric oxide production and was a guest on a great podcast worth checking out, The Doctor's Farmacy podcast with Mark Hyman, M.D.
On the podcast, Dr. Ignarro discusses the challenges of measuring nitric oxide in real-time because it has a half-life of 2-3 seconds. As soon as it's made in the arterial cells, it works for a second or two; then poof, it's gone. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that delivers messages or "signals" from one cell to another. If we have healthy arteries, we are continuously making nitric oxide, making it difficult to measure the amount and any given period. However, what can be measured in a lab is nitrite and nitrate levels in our system. Otherwise, you can estimate if you're deficient in nitric oxide by watching for some key symptoms, like the ones in this nitric oxide self-test.
People who live unhealthy lifestyles make substantially less nitric oxide.
Dr. Nathan Bryan, PhD
A nitric oxide researcher for over 20 years, Dr. Bryan sheds light on the necessity that nitrite and nitrate have on cardiovascular health and endocrine function. Dr. Bryan authored the book Functional Nitric Oxide Nutrition, intending to help people understand core knowledge about nitric oxide. He wants people to learn:
- We lose the ability to produce nitric oxide as we age
- Nitric oxide regulates most cellular functions making it an incredibly important molecule
- New research has uncovered what happens when an individual can no longer produce nitric oxide, what this means for health, and how to correct it with diet and lifestyle changes
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD
Joel Fuhrman, M.D. has coined the term "Nutritarian," which is the lifestyle of eating a nutrient-rich plant-based diet intended to promote longevity. A Nutritarian isn't someone who is strictly vegan but is someone who has reduced animal consumption, cast away all processed foods, and in general eats more of the nutrient-dense foods needed for optimal health such as vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds.
On Dr. Fuhrman's blog, he shares his insight on the many ways to get your body producing more intrinsic oxide: via exercise, beet juice, nitrate-rich vegetables, eating blueberries, and other general wisdom for endothelial health.
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn
Dr. Esselstyn is a leading doctor in cardiovascular health and has published well over 150 studies. You might remember him from the feature documentary Forks Over Knives. Here are some quotes from Dr. Esselstyn on the topic of nitric oxide:
"Endothelial cells manufacture a magical protective molecule of gas called nitric oxide, which protects our blood vessels."
"Every western meal of processed vegetable oils, dairy products, and meat (including chicken and fish) injures these endothelial cells. As individuals consume these damaging products throughout their lives, they have fewer functioning endothelial cells remaining and thus less of the protective nitric oxide."
Dr. Esselstyn's son Rip Esselstyn is the founder of Plant Strong and an advocate for a plant-based diet and often discusses the importance of nitric oxide in the body for optimal health. Here are two of Rip's podcasts that talk about nitric oxide:
Does nitric oxide work?
Yes, not only does nitric oxide work, higher levels are associated with health and vitality, while lower levels are associated with poor diet and lifestyle. Want to learn more about nitric oxide? We've curated some of the top questions about nitric oxide to help you understand why you should say YES to nitric oxide.
Can you take nitric oxide daily?
We don’t “take” nitric oxide. We make it. Nitric oxide is produced inside the body. To boost the daily nitric oxide levels, you need to consume nitrate-rich foods like leafy greens and beverages like beetroot juice. You can also amplify the length of time nitric oxide lasts in the body by eating fruits that are high in antioxidants and Vitamin C, such as oranges, tart cherries, blueberries, and pomegranate. You can also boost your daily nitrate levels from beetroot juices like Beet Boost.