What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is produced by almost every cell in the human body. It is one of most
important molecules for blood vessel health. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, so it relaxes
the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing the vessels to widen. Therefore, nitric
oxide increases blood flow and lowers blood pressure, and also plays an important role
in other bodily functions that regulate mitochondrial respiration and platelet function.
Nitric oxide synthesis occurs through L-arginine as the main precursor. This amino acid
is oxidized to nitric oxide by the action of the nitric oxide synthase enzymes.
Additionally, L-citrulline can also be a secondary nitric oxide donor, since it can be
converted to L-arginine. Nitrate and nitrite also effectively produce nitric oxide. These
anions can be reduced in the body to nitric oxide and other bioactive nitrogen oxides.
Other molecules, such as the dietary supplement glycine propionyl-L-carnitine (GPLC),
have also been suggested to increase levels of nitric oxide in the body.
Continuous and regulated generation of nitric oxide is essential for the health of the
cardiovascular system, immune and nervous system. Decreased production and
bioavailability of nitric oxide is one of the earliest signs of the onset and progression of
many diseases. The production of nitric oxide from L-arginine by nitric oxide synthase
enzymes is one of the most complex reactions in the body. As a result, there are many
steps in the pathway that may be affected that ultimately lead to decreased nitric oxide
Once produced, the half-life of nitric oxide is very short, and can be quickly
scavenged, further reducing its half-life and not allowing it to perform its functions. It is a
marvelous feat that this short-lived gas is responsible for so many vital cellular actions.
Recent studies also suggest that nitric oxide is involved in the respiratory cycle by
helping red blood cells to release the oxygen they carry to the body’s tissues.
Endothelial dysfunction, or loss of nitric oxide production, is the precursor to the
progression of chronic diseases. Nitric oxide is recognized by the scientific community
as one of the most essential molecules produced by the body. However, there is only a
limited range of FDA-approved products related to nitric oxide