Imagine for a moment a “miracle molecule” that could dramatically improve your health, if you could increase the amount of that molecule in your body. What is it? Nitric oxide, otherwise known by its chemical formula as “NO.” The most important human molecule that you’ve probably never heard of! The science of NO is relatively new, although NO-active drugs such as nitroglycerin, have been used for hundreds of years. Doctors just didn’t know that nitroglycerin worked through nitric oxide!
I learned of it when I read the book entitled, “The Nitric Oxide Solution” by Dr. Nathan Bryan which is available at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Nitric-Oxide-NO-Solution/dp/0615417132. About a year after reading the book, I met the author at a health expo and was impressed with his knowledge and passion for helping others.
I interviewed Dr. Nathan S. Bryan, who just so happens to be the world’s leading expert on NO, and the brains behind the best NO supplement I know of called “NEO 40” here’s the link: http://www.neogenis.com/ (Just FYI, I do not work for him or have any connection to this product).
I asked Dr. Bryan what a regular person can do to maintain healthy levels of nitric oxide if they can’t easily convert it from L-arginine. He had this to say, “Not being able to effectively produce sufficient amounts of NO is just the first step that eventually leads to disease. I think that restoring NO levels early on is part of a good health care protocol, it helps you achieve optimal health and may prevent certain diseases. You need many other nutrients to make the conversion, among them vitamin C and B12.”
He also went on to say that if you’re over 40 years of age, you may not have enough nitric oxide. And he should know! Dr. Bryan is also a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and has spent years researching nitric oxide diagnostics and therapeutics strategies to restore NO in humans. Waning levels of NO after the age of 40 does not surprise me, pretty much everything else declines too.
Since NO is so cutting edge, it’s possible that not all physicians know the whole story on the wonders of nitric oxide and the importance of having enough in your body. They may not be talking to you about NO, so you need to educate yourself. Here’s why you should say YES to NO. I think this molecule should be on many peoples radar, if you are seeking optimal health.
The Nitric Oxide Nobel Prize
NO was first discovered by Dr. Robert Furchgott in 1980 as a vasodilating substance produced by the cells lining our blood vessels, or endothelial cells. He first described the substance as “endothelium derived relaxing factor” or EDRF 1. Dr. Lou Ignarro later discovered that EDRF is nitric oxide2. Ten years prior Dr. Ferid Murad discovered that nitroglycerin actually works through the release of NO 3 and activation of an important enzyme 4.
These three scientists were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998 for the discovery of the critical cardiovascular role of nitric oxide. Dr. Valentin Fuster, then president of the American Heart Association, noted in an interview with the New York Times that “the discovery of NO and its function is one of the most important in the history of cardiovascular medicine.”
Now more than 10 years after the Nobel Prize and more than 120,000 scientific papers later, we are beginning to appreciate its vital role in health and disease. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule. When it’s created and released, this gas easily and quickly penetrates nearby membranes and cells, sending its powerful cues to your body. In less than a second, NO signals:
- Arteries which begin to relax and expand.
- Immune cells which start to kill bacteria and cancer cells
- Brain cells which now better communicate with each other
In fact, NO sends crucial signals within every cell, tissue, organ and system of the body. But perhaps its most important signaling function is within the circulatory system, the system that, in 21st-century America, so often goes wrong, triggering heart attacks and strokes.
What Does Nitric Oxide Do For You?
Now, this molecule won’t turn water into wine or raise anyone from the dead! It’s not that kind of miraculous, but biologically speaking, it’s definitely impressive because studies have shown that it can:
- Prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Keep your arteries young and flexible.
- Prevent, slow, or reverse the buildup of artery-clogging arterial plaques.
- Help stop the formation of artery-clogging blood clots—the result of plaques bursting and spilling their contents into the blood stream.
- Reduce inflammation.
By doing all of the above, it can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, the #1 and #3 killers of Americans.
Supplements that raise NO can be taken called “NEO 40” from https://secure.neogenis.com/product-listing.html
The molecule of NO has more tasks to do in the human body. Studies show it can also:
- Improve penis erections.
- Enhance sexual sensitivity and blood flow to the clitoris.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes and disastrous diabetic complications, such as chronic kidney disease, blindness, hard-to-heal foot and leg ulcers, and amputations.
- Limit the swelling and pain of arthritis, and boost the power of pain-relieving drugs.
- Calm the choking inflammation of asthma.
- Protect your bones from osteoporosis.
- Help provide the mood-lifting power behind antidepressant medications.
- Assist the immune system in killing bacteria.
- Limit skin damage from the sun.
What Happens to You Without Enough NO?
Many symptoms of nitric oxide insufficiency occur with age. We may experience lower energy, we may begin to forget things, like what we went into the room for, or where we put our keys. There may be a noticeable change in our sexual appetite and performance, which may decline. It’s possible that without enough NO, we begin to develop aches and pains that over time can manifest as specific disease. You have to look at the total picture of your health, having just one of these problems is not necessarily an indication of low NO, but if you have a few, and you are over the age of 40, it is likely that NO levels have declined.
Research in the past 20 years shows that the loss of nitric oxide may be responsible for many of these symptoms of aging and at the root of cardiovascular disease. And the most reliable way to know if you are nitric oxide-insufficient or not is your age.
Scientists first discovered that NO is made from L-arginine, so you will frequently hear health care practitioners say that supplementing with this amino acid (L-arginine) is a good way to increase your body’s natural production of nitric oxide. News flash, but this is not really an effective way to increase NO. You see, as we age we lose our ability to produce NO by converting L-arginine and it happens in part because we need numerous other cofactors and vitamins to carry this reaction. So do not depend on L-arginine to help you, in fact, taking high doses could back fire.
If You’re Over 40, You Probably Don’t Have Enough
Aging and hypertension are well-documented cardiovascular risk factors 5,6. And NO insufficiency has a very definite role in both. When we are young and healthy, the artery cells, or endothelium, produce NO through L-arginine efficiently. In a recent study, a group of scientists showed that aging can cause greater than 50% loss in endothelial function in the oldest age group tested 7. Further, another group of scientists reported a loss of 75% of endothelium-derived nitric oxide in 70-80 year old patients versus young, healthy 20 year olds8. Another group demonstrated that being older was predicts abnormal vasodilation in certain arteries9. And lastly, a 1996 study shows that age was the most significant predictor of endothelial function10. Collectively, these important findings illustrate that endothelial function declines progressively with age, as a consequence of declining nitric oxide levels. These findings are illustrated in Figure 1. This decline is present even in healthy adults who have no other cardiovascular risk except being over 40! Most of these studies found that impairment of endothelium-dependent vasodilation was clearly evident by the fourth decade. These observations enable us to conclude that nitric oxide levels are a problem as we age, and that reduced availability of nitric oxide may increase risk of cardiovascular disease, sexual dysfunction and even Alzheimer’s disease.
If you’re over 40, restoring your nitric oxide level is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
More Nitric Oxide Research
Since the Nobel Prize was awarded, there has been an explosion of research about NO and its effect on many different problems associated with aging- more than 100 thousand scientific studies, including the following:
Memory Loss: Don’t Forget NO!
Can’t remember where you put your keys? You may have lost your NO, too.
“There is an impressive amount of evidence suggesting the involvement of NO in . . . learning and memory,” wrote a team of Iranian researchers in the journal Behavioural Brain Research11.
Are Sleep Problems Caused by Low NO?
Sleep worsens with age: 58 percent of adults age 59 and over report having difficulty sleeping at least a few nights a week. Finnish researchers measured NO levels in young (four months), middle-aged (14 months), and old (24 months) rats. They found that, compared to young rats, old rats’ NO didn’t increase in the brain during sleep deprivation, and that infusing the old animals with NO didn’t induce sleep. “These results support our hypothesis that aging impairs the mechanism through which NO in the [brain] induces sleep,” concluded the researchers, in Neurobiology of Aging12.
NO and Sleep Apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you’re roused to semiconsciousness repeatedly during the night because sagging soft tissue at the back of the throat plugs your airway. It afflicts an estimated 30 million Americans, many of them overweight men. And it dramatically increases the risk for heart disease and stroke. Is there a connection between NO, sleep apnea, and heart disease? Highly likely, said French researchers, writing in the American Journal of Pathology, in August 201013. They studied 62 people with OSA and found that many had reduced NO production and impaired endothelial function—and they theorized that it’s low NO that might cause the arterial disease so common in people with OSA.
More NO, Less Arthritis Pain
In a study in the Clinical Journal of Pain, researchers from the Physical Therapy Program at the University of Colorado–Denver theorized that NO is a key factor in the reduction of arthritis pain14.
They hypothesized that NO is decreased in joints stressed by “chronic load-induced stress” (such as knee arthritis in people who are overweight) and “biochemical change-induced stresses” (such as the oxidative damage in bones caused by diets high in saturated fat and low in antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits).
Based on the fact that NO is decreased in arthritis, the researchers speculated that “NO-based intervention may produce substantial pain relief without undesirable side effects, by increasing circulation, decreasing nerve irritation, and decreasing inflammation in joints.”
Their conclusion: NO “can bring dramatic relief to people with painful osteoarthritis.”
Skin Diseases: Less Sun Damage with NO?
“It has become clear that this extraordinary molecular messenger [NO] plays a vital role in the skin, orchestrating normal regulatory processes,” noted a team of French researchers in the medical journal Nitric Oxide15.
The researchers listed the many roles NO performs in the skin, including:
• NO plays a role in the maintenance of the “barrier function” the all-important role of the skin in keeping out unwanted germs and toxins.
• NO may help protect keratinocytes from damage and death from the sun’s UV radiation.
Sexual Function: When NO Means Yes
New research shows that erectile dysfunction (ED) is an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease (CVD): in a 10-year study, guys who had ED at the start of the study were 80 percent more likely to develop CVD by the study’s end16.
Yes, ED is usually a circulatory problem—lack of blood flow to the penis. Adequate amounts of Nitric Oxide are necessary to produce dilation of penile arteries. This allows sufficient amounts of blood to enter the penis resulting in an erection. The same applies to women. Without proper blood flow to the clitoris, women cannot experience orgasm or increased sexual sensitivity.
Aging Is THE Risk Factor
There are many risk factors for heart disease. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. A mom or a dad (or both) who died of heart disease.
But one risk factor that is common to everybody who reaches age 40 is… reaching age 40. Yes, aging, all by itself, is a risk factor for a heart attack or stroke. Why?
Aging leads to an accumulation of protein in artery walls, making them stiffer. With aging, you have fewer capillaries, the tiniest, cell-wide blood vessels. But perhaps most importantly, as you age, so does your endothelium: you don’t generate as much NO, and your arteries don’t dilate as easily and as widely. They’re narrow. They’re stiff. They’re a setup for a heart attack or stroke.
A couple of studies graphically demonstrate the effect of aging on your endothelium.
The older you are, the weaker your endothelium—because of less NO
In one study, Italian researchers evaluated forearm blood flow—the standard measurement of endothelial health—in 47 people with normal blood pressure and 49 people with high blood pressure17. They found that in both groups, those who were older had poorer endothelial-dependent vasodilation: the NO-sparked ability of arteries to widen and permit better blood flow. And that weakening of the endothelium was in perfect parallel to aging- decade by decade, NO-powered, endothelial-dependent vasodilation decreased.
All in all, those 60 and older had vasodilation that was 52 percent weaker- less than half as strong- as those 30 and younger. And these were older people who did not have high blood pressure!
“Advancing age is an independent factor leading to the progressive impairment of endothelium-dependent vasodilation in humans,” concluded the researchers in the journal Circulation. “(with age comes a) progressive reduction of NO availability.”
In other words, it happens to everybody who gets older! And if you’re over 40, you probably need more NO!
So What To Do? Restore Your Nitric Oxide!
Thankfully, nitric oxide restoration is not only possible but EASY!
There are plenty of ways to generate more NO. Here are some suggestions:
1. A diet rich in NO-producing nitrate and nitrite mainly from leafy greens.
2. An NO-boosting dietary supplement that does not rely solely on L-arginine
3. Regular exercise, it’s easy and free!
4. Rest baby rest! Sufficient sleep is just one lifestyle factor that preserves and increases NO.
5. Turn off the news on TV, it’s always bad and it could stress you out. Seriously, any way that you can manage stress in your life will help to boost NO. Regular yoga, meditation and avoidance of stressful people will help you. Even taking a deep breath, in through the nose, and out through the nose will help you. Try it right now. Take 3 deep breaths, don’t you feel better already?!
You cannot win the battle folks! The age-related decrease of NO is going to happen, but here’s the good news:
- You can SLOW DOWN the loss of NO
- You can STOP the loss of NO
- You can REVERSE the loss of NO
Many people associate L-arginine with nitric oxide, but in fact, it is the L-arginine pathway that becomes dysfunctional with age. Therefore L-arginine supplementation often does not work in adults over 40. However, it can be effective in young healthy individuals with functional endothelial function.
My point is that people with endothelial dysfunction are by definition, unable to convert L-arginine to NO. L-arginine should not be recommended following acute myocardial infarction (heart attack that is). Further, supplementing L-arginine to promote nitric oxide production in people with risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle and history of heart disease DOES NOT NORMALLY WORK. Because of their conditions, these people have endothelial dysfunction, therefore cannot convert L-arginine to nitric oxide. And all the Viagra in the world won’t restore normal levels of nitric oxide.
And Now You Can Test Yourself
It’s pretty ground-breaking but I’m happy to tell you that there is a home test kit that anyone can buy, which tests for NO and you can do it at home. I tried it. The test kit includes test strips that are instantly-readable and measure the nitric oxide present in your saliva. The information for the tests and NEO 40 supplements are available at www.neogenis.com (I am in no way financially connected, just trying to raise awareness for a terrific product, and a brilliant author and researcher
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