NITRIC OXIDE PRODUCTS – ARE YOU CONFUSED YET? HOW TO KNOW WHAT PRODUCT TO BUY AND WHAT PRODUCTS TO AVOID
Nitric oxide (NO) products have become very popular over the past 10 years. In fact, if you search nitric oxide products you get over 35 million results in just 1.08 seconds. So how do you know which product may be best for you? This is not easy since in the dietary supplement space, every label says the same things and offers the same claims and benefits statement.
Nitric oxide is gaining awareness in the consumer world because of its potent physiological effects. NO is what regulates blood flow and nutrient and oxygen delivery to every cell in the entire body. I would say that is a pretty important function.
Regulation of blood flow affects every organ system in the body. It is the loss of regulation of blood flow secondary to loss of nitric oxide production that is responsible for every major disease known.
For example, if you lose the regulation of blood flow to the sex organs, you develop sexual dysfunction. If you lose regulation of blood flow to the heart, you develop heart disease. If you lose the regulation of blood flow to the brain, you develop vascular dementia, Alzheimers and many other neurological diseases.
Every cell in the body requires certain nutrients and metabolites in order to do its job. It is the job of nitric oxide to open up the blood vessels that serve those individual tissues and cells to make sure each cell gets what it needs to do its job.
4 Categories of Nitric Oxide Products
In normal healthy individuals, our body makes sufficient nitric oxide to get the job done. However, as we age our body loses its ability to product nitric oxide. This is termed endothelial dysfunction.
Over time, if not corrected, endothelial dysfunction turns into full blown disease. It is recognized that production of NO is the main function of our endothelial cells (the cells that line every blood vessel throughout the body). This is where nitric oxide based products can provide benefit if they can restore NO production or provide a source of NO.
After more than two decades of research in the NO field, I have learned that nitric oxide products fall into one of four categories.
- Arginine/Citrulline products – These product first hit the market in the late 1990’s after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of NO and the realization that L-arginine is the substrate to make NO. The enzyme nitric oxide synthase is what is responsible for converting L-arginine into NO with L-citrulline as a byproduct. L-arginine and L-citrulline are both semi-essential amino acids, meaning that our body makes these amino acids from normal metabolism but we also get both of them from the breakdown of proteins we ingest through out diet. In people that are NO deficient and have endothelial dysfunction, they already have normal levels of L-arginine and L-citrulline. The availability of these amino acids is not their problem. The problem is that there body has lost the ability to convert L-arginine into NO due to loss of function of the enzyme. Therefore giving more L-arginine or L-citrulline does nothing to the function of the enzyme. You are just giving the body more of a substrate it cannot convert into NO. Based on the science, Arginine/Citrulline based product have very limited utility in restoring NO production in patients that are NO deficient.
- Beet Root based products – Beet based products are everywhere, especially in the sports and endurance world. Beets became popular around 2012 when it was realized many Olympic athletes were drinking beet root juice to enhance their performance. The active ingredient in some beets responsible for the blood pressure lowering effects and enhancement of performance is nitrate. However, most of the beet products on the market contain no detectable nitrate. I’ve tested all of them in my lab. As a result, they provide absolutely no benefit other than turning your urine and feces a pink color causing some anxiety in many folks. If a beet root product does not have a standardized amount of nitrate on the label, avoid it. It has no nitric oxide function. It is in fact a “dead beet”. Beet root does not equal nitrate. There are some beet products that actually work but it is not always apparent. Labels are even confusing and misleading. There are superbeets labels that have patents listed and there are superbeet products that do not have patents listed on them which means some superbeet products deliver on nitric oxide and other superbeet products do not deliver on nitric oxide. Pay attention to patents listed on the labels.
- Nitrate based products – Some companies have become clever and now offer a standardized nitrate amount in the form of capsules or even standardized in food products, including beets. However, nitrate is inert in humans. Humans are unable to metabolize this molecule. The human body requires the presence of nitrate reducing bacteria to metabolize nitrate into nitrite and nitric oxide. If you don’t have the right nitrate reducing bacteria, you get no nitric oxide benefit from nitrate. In America, over 200 million people use antiseptic mouthwash on a daily basis. These mouthwashes have been shown to kill the good nitrate reducing bacteria and actually cause an increase in blood pressure. Many more have active oral infections that disrupt the normal oral microbiome and disrupt nitrate reduction to NO. As a result, a nitrate based product may only work in less than a third of the population. Nitrate is an important nutrient, but only if you are able to metabolize it to NO. Most people cannot and that is why they are nitric oxide deficient. Nitrate does not equal nitric oxide.
- Nitrite and Nitric oxide generating products – People become nitric oxide deficient because they have lost the ability to convert L-arginine into NO and/or they have do not have the ability to utilize nitrate from their diet to make NO due to mouthwash use, antacids, poor diet, etc. So how do you overcome this and restore NO even in this population? You have to do something different. This is where my two decades of research comes in. If your body cannot make NO, then we have to do it for you. The only way to do that is to provide nitric oxide directly. A second and fundamental function is to restore the nitrate reducing bacteria and restore the function of the enzyme to convert L-arginine into NO. There are only a couple of products that do this and they are protected by my patents and have multiple published clinical trials to prove they work. These product work in every single person that consumes them.
In my opinion, every single person on this planet should be taking a nitric oxide boosting product since it is the single most important molecule produced in the human body. However, you should not waste your money on products that do not work.
How to Find NO Products That Work
When shopping for NO products, do your research and look for the science behind the product and don’t be fooled by creative marketing. L-arginine, beet root and nitrate based products have limited utility.
Characteristics of a good nitric oxide product:
- Look for a patent on label or at least some demonstration that it generates NO.
- Ask the manufacturer if there are any published clinical studies on the actual product, not an ingredient, but on the actual product.
- Is the formulator/inventor an expert in the nitric oxide field? Have they published any scientific papers in the field. There are a lot of talking heads out there for companies that have never published a single scientific paper.
I get emails and calls every single day asking these questions so I thought it would be helpful to provide some clarity.
Companies will continue to try to capitalize on the ever growing nitric oxide field. Educated and informed consumers will drive product demand.
In full disclosure, I obviously have a financial interest in all of my patents and/or any product that utilizes my patents. However this is based on over twenty years of basic science and clinical research and dozens of published papers in the field. My objective is to educate the world on the importance of nitric oxide and develop and inform on safe and effective nitric oxide product technology.
Be smart and don’t be fooled by deceptive marketing.