Whenever you are contemplating taking any sort of supplement it is always a good idea to do some research into exactly what it is you are ingesting into your body. Ideally you should understand the benefits and possible harmful affects so that you can make a reasonable decision about whether or not it is really worthwhile for you and your personal goals.
Taking something like nitric oxide supplements falls into that category. You can’t always just what the manufacturer put on the label because they are trying to sell products. Before we delve into the benefits of nitric oxide supplements lets back up to a quick overview of what nitric oxide actually is.
Nitric Oxide Basics
Nitric oxide is also known as nitrogen monoxide and is found in the body at the cellular level. From a broad based perspective it is used in numerous processes in the body. It is a signal transmitter between cells in the body and has been shown to help relax the walls of blood vessels to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure.
It has been used in the form of nitroglycerine to help with heart issues by helping with the blood flow into the heart. It also helps with men and creating erections by helping dilating certain blood vessels and is the basis for how Viagra works.
Benefits of Nitric Oxide Supplements
So based on the general purpose of this chemical within the body it would seem from a bodybuilding or fitness aspect the benefits would be:
- Delivery of Oxygen
- Increased Muscle Pump
- Muscle Gain
The problem is that that isn’t what actually happens. Nitric oxide itself is created when the amino acid L-arginine is converted by the enzyme nitric oxide synthase. So any supplement that you are taking really needs to contain L-arginine. If you are already taking in L-arginine in other supplements then specific Nitric Oxide supplements could be seen as overkill.
So regardless of what the claims might be, here is exactly what you get from that additional L-arginine that is then converted in the body into nitric oxide:
It can increase the anaerobic level in older men – this is the point when lactic acid accumulates in the muscles which leads to the burning sensation in muscles which makes many of us quit. So this supplement would allow endurance athletes to workout longer; however the study was limited in scope and not overly definitive. It also might aid with erectile dysfunction.
Concerns with L-arginine
Generally speaking having the proper amount of amino acids available is a good thing. However you can still overdose on them. In the case of L-arginine an excess can lead to headaches, diarrhea, and nausea. For the study listed above the athletes ingested 5.2 grams daily.
The Bottom Line
So far nitric oxide supplements seem to not support the type of benefits they tout. While it should help on a cellular level with the delivery of oxygen there have been no proven effects of increased recovery or muscle gain. However for endurance athletes it has shown some ability to affect the overall threshold of lactic acid buildup (by almost 17 percent) which can be very valuable.