Not a lot of people know about nitric oxide, or NO, and its importance for your health and wellbeing.
At optimal levels, NO provides huge benefits for a range of bodily functions, and boosts performance, both in the gym and the bedroom.
Curious how this works? Skeptical? Keep reading to learn more about nitric oxide, how it affects sexual performance, and how to maintain (or increase) your nitric oxide levels.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is a compound that our bodies produce naturally, and it positively affects a lot of areas of our overall health.
It comes from the combination of nitrogen and oxygen molecules. These are naturally present in our body, and can also come from external sources, most notably food and drinks high in nitrates. We also receive nitric oxide from nitric oxide synthase, an enzyme that is enhanced by healthy testosterone levels.
In some situations, nitrates can turn into nitrite, which is a harmful compound believed to lead to cancer. However, with the right supporting minerals and nutrients present - most notably antioxidants like vitamin c - your body will instead convert nitrates into beneficial nitric oxide.
How Does Nitric Oxide Work Within the Body?
The main function of nitric oxide is as a vasodilator. This means it relaxes the muscles around your blood vessels, allowing them to widen, and for blood to flow more freely around the body.
This results in lower blood pressure and increased circulation. Better circulation means you can supply more vital nutrients to different parts of the body since these nutrients generally travel via the bloodstream.
The positive impact of NO is associated with better immune health, cardiovascular health, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and increased exercise performance. The latter in particular has led to a lot of popularity in NO-promoting supplements and food or drink sources, due to the “pump” you get from increasing blood flow, similar to what a lot of pre-workout supplements provide.
Does Nitric Oxide Help Sexually?
A lot of what makes nitric oxide beneficial for exercise performance also rings true for sexual performance.
Increased blood flow is not only good for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. It's also useful when it comes to facilitating erections and preventing other symptoms of sexual dysfunction.
Nitric oxide helps relax blood vessels around the penis, making it easier to supply the blood flow you need to get and maintain an erection.
This is not just a theory, either. It’s backed by numerous studies.
One study showed certain precursors to nitric oxide had a positive effect on male sexual function, while another backs up the benefits of NO in how it may treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
Commonly used ED medicines, like Viagra, utilize a very similar mechanic to nitric oxide, by widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow, so it’s not hard to see NO can boost performance in the same way.
How to Naturally Increase Nitric Oxide Production
The body naturally produces nitric oxide already, so it's not like some beneficial compounds (e.g. essential amino acids) that you can only get from external sources.
However, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to have optimal levels of nitric oxide. A lot of us don’t - which could be the cause of a number of health issues, or just generally feeling sub-par.
Luckily there are a number of ways to boost your natural production of nitric oxide, by providing your body with more of the precursors and building blocks of NO, or supporting the natural process by which your body builds and maintains NO.
Let’s check out a few options.
The best way to increase your NO stores is through your diet.
There are several ways this works, mostly by consuming foods high in nitrates, which the body can convert into nitric oxide.
It’s not quite as simple as this, though. Nitrates are technically free radicals which, left unchecked, can lead to health issues like cancer.
So not all high-nitrate foods are naturally good for you or exist as a nitric oxide booster. A lot of processed meats, for example, are high in nitrates, in a way that leads to negative effects and health conditions.
However, consuming nitrates in combination with antioxidants means the body can adequately process these nitrates and turn them into nitric oxide, rather than allowing them to morph into something harmful.
For that reason, look to fruit and vegetable sources to boost NO production safely. Here are some healthy, high-nitrate food sources to take to increase nitric oxide:
- Dark, leafy greens (e.g. kale, spinach)
- Nuts & seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Red wine
You might want to increase your NO levels in order to boost your performance in the gym. But it works the other way, too - working out can also help boost NO production.
Studies show an increase in NO production as a result of moderate-intensity exercise. The study suggests that the reason for this is because of the positive effect exercise has on the health of blood vessels and the circulatory system.
This helps make NO more bioavailable in the body, and supports the systems the body uses to create more NO.
One of the many benefits of sauna use is increased nitric oxide production.
Sauna has a powerful antioxidant effect on the body. Like eating a ton of foods rich in vitamin C, hopping in the sauna helps protect the body against free radicals (like nitrates from processed foods).
This appears to have a positive effect on NO levels, by boosting the rate at which the body can turn nitrates into NO. A study backs this up, showing a significant increase in nitric oxide as a result of a series of sauna sessions.
You can also reliably and naturally increase your nitric oxide levels through supplementation.
Nitric oxide supplements don't actually deliver NO itself, instead, they give you certain nutrients or minerals that work as building blocks for NO production.
Nitric oxide boosting supplements like our Stim Free Pre Workout, for example, contains a combination of Nitrosigine, Arginine and Silicate, which bond together to produce nitric oxide.
By giving your body more of the ingredients involved in nitric oxide production, supplements like Stim Free Pre Workout give you a boost in circulation and a natural energy boost, without any stimulants like caffeine.
There are many reasons you should want to boost your nitric oxide levels. Optimal nitric oxide production means a healthy circulatory system, which improves your overall performance, health and wellbeing in so many different ways.
This happens to include sexual performance. There’s strong evidence that nitric oxide promotes stronger erections and relief of erectile dysfunction.
Whatever your reason for increasing NO levels, it’s fairly straightforward to do it, safely and naturally. Eat high-nitrate fruits and vegetables, and engage in exercise and sauna use.
Additionally, try supplements like Stim Free Pre Workout to get a quick and clean boost of energy while increasing your NO stores at the same time.