Nitric oxide or NO is considered one of the most important molecules produced in humans. This simple molecule controls oxygen and nutrient delivery to every cell in the body, it regulates cellular communication and even has anti-microbial properties that protect our body from invading pathogens. In fact, this molecule is so important it was named “Molecule of the Year” by Science Magazine in 1992 and in 1998 a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to the three US Scientists responsible for its discovery.
Loss of nitric oxide production is recognized as the earliest event in the onset and progression of most if not all chronic diseases, including the number 1 killer of men and women worldwide, cardiovascular disease. There are two ways the body normally makes NO. One is from the amino acid L-arginine. The enzyme that converts L-arginine into nitric oxide becomes dysfunctional. This is due to many factors including aging, oxidative stress, poor diet, lack of physical exercise, smoking, diabetes, high sugar diet, etc. The other pathway is from nitrate and nitrite found naturally in some foods. Each pathway contributes about 50% of the total NO production and one can compensate for the other. However, when NO production from both pathways becomes limiting, then that is when health problems start to occur.