If someone asks you what a car engine, lightning, a power plant and your body have in common, would you have an answer? NO. Yes, NO is the answer, which stands for Nitric Oxide. This gaseous molecule is a by-product of the combustion of certain substances in the air. It is also naturally synthesized by electrical charges in the atmosphere during thunderstorms. But you don’t actually need to burn fossil fuel or generate lightning in order to get Nitric Oxide. This biological gas is also produced by the cells in your body.
As its chemical symbol suggests, Nitric Oxide consists of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom. In the body, it is produced in the cells when the amino acid L-Arginine is broken down by enzymes. It is essential for various bodily functions as it acts as a kind of messenger between the cells, which is very similar to the role played by hormones and neurotransmitters.
Because of its important function in intra-cellular communication, Nitric Oxide is very crucial in the smooth functioning of many physiological processes. It is also proven to be useful in the treatment of a variety of ailments.
Health Benefits of Nitric Oxide
By increasing the diameter of blood vessels, Nitric Oxide improves blood circulation and prevents the formation of blood clots. It also raises the oxygen supply within the body and lowers blood pressure. This is achieved through Nitric Oxide’s relaxing effect on the endothelial cells, the thin layer of cells that line the surface of all blood vessels. As a result, NO is essential in promoting a healthy heart rhythm because of its overall control in proper blood circulation and the relaxation of blood vessels.
As Nitric Oxide is released from the cells, particularly those cells related to the immune system, it attacks viruses and bacteria that can otherwise cause infection within the body. It also facilitates in the production of blood cells in the bone marrow. As more killer T-cells are synthesized in the immune system, the body has a greater chance of fighting off the spread of tumors and other cancerous growths.
As already mentioned above, Nitric Oxide increases the diameter of blood vessels. In the same way, it broadens the blood channels leading to skeletal muscles. This promotes better blood flow to the muscle cells. As more nutrients are supplied from the blood, the muscles also increase in size and gain more strength. Body builders and weight lifters take Nitric Oxide supplements in order to increase muscle size and endurance.
Aside from its relaxing effect on the muscles, Nitric Oxide also triggers an anti-inflammatory mechanism within the cells. This makes the gaseous molecule an effective pain reliever for arthritis, rheumatism, and joint pains. In hospitals, patients who are in pain are normally administered with morphine, because this drug produces Nitric Oxide in the body for pain relief.
Because of its role as a messenger between the cells, Nitric Oxide enhances the smooth communication between neural cells in the brain. By stimulating certain areas in the central nervous system, it helps in the improvement of memory, learning, concentration, as well as sleep.
Nitric Oxide is probably best known for its effect on the human sexual response. It promotes sexual energy and boosts libido both in men and women. Because of its muscle relaxing effects, it increases the flow of blood to the penile and vaginal tissues. This prolongs erection and heightens sexual stimulation.
Based on the many benefits of Nitric Oxide that is listed above, it is easy to conclude that this biological gas is indeed an essential part in the healthy functioning of the body. However, as we grow older, our body experiences difficulty in producing ample amounts of NO to keep up with the demands of various physiological processes. Taking Nitric Oxide supplements can help solve this issue. Make sure to consult with your doctor regarding the proper dosage first because if taken in excess amounts, Nitric Oxide can cause diarrhea, weakness and nausea.