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[4 min read] How to naturally boost nitric oxide levels

Nitric oxide is a gas involved in many functions in the body such as blood pressure control, glucose homeostasis, neurotransmission, mitochondrial function, muscle contraction and host defence. It is thought that decreased nitric oxide availability is associated with conditions such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, hypercholesterolaemia, type 2 diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

Nitric oxide is generated in the human body using the precursors nitrate and L-arginine. Other dietary components such as vitamin C, polyphenols and marine-derived long chain n-3 fatty acids can also boost production and decrease degradation of nitric oxide. (Shannon et al., 2018)

Therefore, the food patients eat can influence nitric oxide levels in their body. Foods that are rich in nitrate and/or nitrite include red beetroot, spinach, bok choy, rocket, lettuce, celery, cress, fennel, leek and other green leafy vegetables, for example.

L-arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is metabolised by enzymes to produce nitric oxide. L-arginine is readily found in nuts, legumes, wholegrains and fish. Including these foods in a patient’s diet can therefore support increased nitric oxide levels.

Furthermore, vitamin C and polyphenols, found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, red wine and olive oil influence nitric oxide levels by influencing the nitric oxide generation pathway in the body. Working in a similar manner, marine n-3 fatty acids influence the nitric oxide metabolic pathway to boost overall nitric oxide levels. (Shannon et al., 2018)

These dietary strategies to boost nitric oxide levels can be implemented by following the well-evidenced Mediterranean Diet.

Learn more about how diet influences health and wellbeing, and how you can incorporate this knowledge into your medical practice, in the Professional Diploma program in Medical Nutrition Management

Medical Nutrition Certificate Courses in Australia

Read more recent research.

Oliver M Shannon, PhD, Blossom C M Stephan, PhD, Anne-Marie Minihane, PhD, John C Mathers, PhD, Mario Siervo, PhD, Nitric Oxide Boosting Effects of the Mediterranean Diet: A Potential Mechanism of Action, The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 73, Issue 7, July 2018, Pages 902–904, https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/gly087

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