Dr. Ignarro is a pharmacologist who has spent over 40 years as a research scientist. In 1998, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his research into Nitric Oxide.http://www.drignarro.com/nitric-oxide-health-disease/
Nitric Oxide in Health and Disease
Nitric Oxide functions as a widespread signaling molecule throughout the body. Some of the roles or functions of NO include the following: (1) vasodilation to decrease blood pressure and improve organ blood flow, (2) prevent unwanted blood clotting and obstruction to blood flow in arteries, (3) anti-inflammatory action in arteries to maintain a healthy arterial inner lining without cholesterol plaque buildup, (4) promotes learning, memory and information recall in the brain, (5) aids in the digestive process by promoting movement of digested foods and regulating secretion of digestive hormones and enzymes, (6) regulates bladder function by allowing the bladder to expand and hold more urine, (7) promotes erectile function and sexual arousal in men and women, (
protects the skin against ionizing radiation from the sun. In addition, NO functions as a signaling molecule in concert with many other molecules and hormones in the body to maintain normal bodily functions.
Many disorders and diseases are associated with a decline in NO production as we age. In some cases, it is known that the decrease in NO actually causes the disorder. More research in the future will likely show that lower NO levels causes many more disorders. A variety of lifestyle habits have a direct impact on NO levels and risk factors for disease. Here are some examples of the association between lower NO levels and disease states: (1) hypertension or high blood pressure, (2) stroke, (3) myocardial infarction or heart attack, (4) dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, (5) irritable bowel and related disorders in the digestive tract, (6) urinary incontinence especially in elderly women, (7) erectile dysfunction including sexual arousal disorders in men and women. Decreased NO production places an individual at increased risk for disease. For example, poor eating habits and nutrition can lead to overweight and obesity, all of which cause a long-term decline in NO production and an accompanying increased risk for type-2 diabetes, stroke and heart attack. It is believed that such a decrease in NO production can also cause increased risk for dementia, erectile dysfunction and other disorders.
Physical activity or exercise can promote both acute and chronic increases in NO production. Here’s how. As your heart pumps more blood through the arteries during exercise, the increased force of blood flow triggers the endothelial cells at the inner layer of arteries to produce more NO. The reason for this is that NO is a vasodilator and will greatly improve local blood flow to the exercising muscles, thereby delivering more oxygen and nutrients from the blood into the muscle cells. NO goes up every time you exercise to the level where your heart rate goes up by at least 10 or 20 beats/minute. You don’t have to run a marathon or bicycle up hill for hours to increase your NO production. Walking briskly, jogging slowly, climbing stairs, playing tennis, swimming will do the trick. This NO, which the body uses to improve exercise performance, is the same NO that provides profound health benefits over time. Therefore, the key is to exercise repetitively, that is, several times each week for a lifetime. This chronic increase in NO production is precisely the reason why “exercise is good for your health”.
Who should take dietary supplements that increase nitric oxide?http://www.drignarro.com/take-dietary-supplements-increase-nitric-oxide/
Let me attempt to make the case that everyone should take dietary supplements that boost nitric oxide (also known as NO). Life itself is an aging process. That is, you begin aging at birth. Your nitric oxide levels are highest at birth and then start to decline steadily as you age. The lifestyle you lead determines the rate of decline. A life long lifestyle of healthy dieting and physical activity is your insurance of maintaining healthy nitric oxide levels. On the other hand, poor habits of unhealthy nutrition and sedentary lifestyle will promote a much more rapid decline in nitric oxide levels. Therefore, it is prudent to lead a healthy lifestyle starting from a very young age. You can supplement your healthy lifestyle by consuming foods and nutritional supplements that are scientifically known to increase nitric oxide levels. Such foods include healthy protein and antioxidants such as colorful vegetables and fruit. Nutritional supplements include those containing specific amino acids and antioxidants. As explained in other sections of my website, the two most important amino acids are L-arginine and L-citrulline, which the body utilizes to produe nitric oxide. The product you take should also contain several antioxidants, which protect the newly formed nitric oxide against oxidative destruction.
Everyone should take such nutritional supplements daily for a lifetime because of all the health benefits provided by nitric oxide. Since NO declines appreciably with age, I suggest that men and women begin taking such nutritional supplements at a relatively young age, such as between 20 and 35 years of age. The younger the better. Having indicated that, it’s never too late to begin at any age because you will still enjoy the health benefits of nitric oxide at any age. I recommend strongly that women take products to boost their nitric oxide, and they should begin many years prior to onset of menopause. The reason for this pertains to the levels of estrogen in women, which decline sharply during and after menopause. Estrogen is well known to stimulate the production of NO, and prior to the onset of menopause women produce more NO than do men of equivalent age. Consequently, prior to menopause, women are more protected than are men of equivalent age against cardiovascular disease associated with low levels of NO, such as stroke and heart attack. However, big changes occur in women after menopause. The sharp decline in estrogen causes a simultaneous decline in NO production and thereby increases the risk for stroke and heart attack in women compared with men of equivalent age. Therefore, I recommend that women begin boosting their nitric oxide levels between 20 and 35 years of age and continue to do so daily for a lifetime.