Nitric oxide, or NO, is a chemical compound that helps moderate blood flow in your body by relaxing the walls of your blood vessels. When blood vessels relax, the blood flow throughout your body can improve, reducing your risk for cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. Your body makes NO naturally by synthesizing the amino acid L-arginine. You can get L-arginine from your diet, but your body also makes it naturally. Some individuals take L-arginine supplements to increase NO levels. However, it is possible to increase your NO levels without taking an arginine supplement.
Take a nitric oxide supplement. NO supplements are available in the supplement section of big-box drug stores, health food stores and stores that specialize in nutritional supplements. Take the supplements according to the manufacturer’s instructions for dosing, but always consult with your health care provider before taking any supplements.
Exercise. Perform at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week. Regular exercise increases your body’s production of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme your body uses to convert existing L-arginine to NO.
Eat one serving per day of 50- to 70-percent dark chocolate. The flavanols in cocoa increase your body’s production of NO, according to a meta-analysis published in June 2010 in "BMC Medicine."
Consult with your physician about medications for erectile dysfunction. Viagra and other ED medications improve erectile function by raising the level of nitric oxide in the blood. These drugs are not suitable for everyone and you should only consider them if you are experiencing ED.
- Cardiovascular Physiology Concepts: Nitric Oxide
- "Psychology Today"; Nitric Oxide: The New Hero of Human Biology; Marissa Kantor; June 16, 2005
- "BMC Medicine"; Does Chocolate Reduce Blood Pressure? A Meta-analysis; Karin Ried, et al.; June 2010
- MayoClinic.Com; Erectile Dysfunction: Viagra and other Oral Medications; April 2010