How to Boost Your Nitric Oxide for A Healthy Heart

Friday Jun 17 | BY |
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Screenshot 2016-06-17 10.09.25If you are looking for the common causes of disease insufficient nitric oxide (NO) would be at the top of the list.

Nitric oxide (NO) – not to be confused with nitrous oxide, “laughing gas” – is a common chemical that is necessary for survival and health. NO consists of one atom of nitrogen and one of oxygen. In your body, NO serves an important function as a signaling molecule. It acts as a neurotransmitter helping to dilate and relax the blood vessels that improves blood flow to all tissues. It also has an immune function serving to keep bacteria in check. Skeletal muscle is the largest reservoir of NO, which is why athletes pay attention to NO boosting for optimal performance.

In foods, nitric oxide occurs as nitrites and nitrates. Do not confuse nitrites with nitrate chemical additives used in preserved foods like sandwich meats. Inorganic nitrates are harmful chemicals that get into the food chain from chemical fertilizers and runoff into the water supply. Chemical nitrates are not allowed in organically grown foods.

In your body, NO is mainly produced by the endothelium, the lining of your blood vessels. In fact, the endothelium acts as a biological sensor. During exercise, more NO gets released, which relaxes blood vessels and also improves oxygen utilization by muscles. NO homeostasis serves as a master regulating molecule keeping the body healthy.

5 Benefits of Healthy NO Levels:

NO enhances exercise performance, endurance, and improves recovery time. Body builders and endurance athletes know that healthy NO levels regulate blood flow to muscles and organs resulting in improved tissue oxygen utilization and also lowers lactic acid buildup so they can train harder and recover faster.
NO reduces blood pressure. Sufficient levels of NO cause blood vessels to relax, which keeps blood pressure normal. NO deficiency is linked with high blood pressure.

NO improves male sex. Male erection depends on sufficient blood supply to the penis, which requires enough NO. The drug, Viagra, works by upregulating nitric oxide pathways.

NO promotes deep sleep. Studies indicate that NO plays a vital role in sleep and waking cycles. Abnormal NO homeostasis is associated with chronic sleep disruption and sleep apnea.

NO protects your heart and arteries. NO is also called endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF) because it helps keep blood vessels pliable. Healthy NO levels reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Diet and lifestyle can benefit or work against nitric oxide production. Too much salt in your diet lowers NO. So does smoking, stress, and when your cholesterol level is too high. Elevated levels of uric acid, the substance that causes gout, drives up blood pressure and lowers NO. Obesity causes physical stress to your arteries, which reduces NO.

Plants are NO powerhouses. Eating lots of green leafy vegetables promotes healthy NO levels. Nearly all green plants, but some red ones too, boost NO levels. However, some are better than others.

The Key To Health Is A Nitrate-Rich Plant-Based Diet

Nitrate-rich vegetables are the key to increasing nitric oxide. NO boosters include leafy greens, kale, and collards. Spinach can lower blood pressure because of its NO potential. But the king of NO boosters is red beetroot and beet greens. It seems that one key to health is daily consumption of dietary nitrates found in plants.

Top 12 NO Boosting Plant Foods

  1. Beet greens
  2. Kale
  3. Arugula
  4. Carrots
  5. Parsley
  6. Radishes
  7. Collards
  8. Garlic
  9. Spinach
  10. Basal
  11. Cilantro
  12. Chard

Could it be that the NO boost you get from green juices is the reason you experience the increase in energy when consuming plant-based diets that vegetarians and vegans rave about?

What matters when drinking raw green juices is not to drink too much because they are high in oxalic and phytic acids that inhibit absorption of essential minerals including calcium and iron. But how much is too much? That’s hard to determine. A common sense rule of thumb is to consume half of your daily amount as cooked vegetables and the other half eat raw. I argue for 80 percent cooked and 20 percent raw because lightly steamed green leafy vegetables are easier to digest but still retain nutritional value. You can also consume more vegetables when cooked because the volume reduces by more than half. I recommend one medium sized raw salad per day and one 8-ounce glass of raw vegetable juice daily. The 80-20 rule allows you to consume the recommended 10-12 servings daily.

Nutritional Supplements Boost Nitric Oxide

Just as vegetables boost NO levels, nutritional supplements improve NO homeostasis. Arginine is the most scientifically studied NO booster. Researchers found that the amino acid L-Arginine is necessary to sustain health and that Arginine deficiency is associated with chronic inflammation and increased oxidation in the body.

The Top 5 NO Boosting Supplements:

Glycine propionyl L-carnitine (GPLC)
Vitamin C

Citrulline is a precursor of L-Arginine. A combination of Citrulline and Arginine improves endurance and recovery in professional athletes and enhances alertness. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that enhances NO and helps reduce blood pressure. Vitamin C enhances NO bioavailability in the tissues.

GPLC is a proven NO booster favored by bodybuilders because it helps raise NO in muscles and heart tissue that significantly enhances their anaerobic capacity and intensity. It one of the only scientifically proven supplements to directly increase NO levels.

Balance is crucial when taking supplements. For example, taking too much quercetin inhibits NO synthesis. Too much arginine can disrupt your body’s electrolyte balance. Support your NO status with regular use of moderate dosages of nutritional supplements.

A Saliva Sample Tests Your NO Levels at Home

How do you know if your NO boosting program is working? If your blood pressure is lower and you have more energy, you can assume that your program is working. But, to know if you are going from lower to higher NO levels, home test kits are available. Indicator test strips, similar to urine test strips, are used for quick NO assessment. A doctor’s prescription is not necessary, and you can quickly determine your results. Purchase test kits from Amazon and other online retailers.

Measure your NO levels when you get up in the morning before brushing your teeth and wait for breakfast or your green smoothie until after your complete the test. Follow the instructions that come with the kit. If your level is not there yet, add more NO-rich plants and take NO boosting supplements.

Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. June Hanson says:

    IN 2009 had heart attack caused by spasm in coronary arteries. Severe pain in chest radiating down arms. Diagnosis: Prinzmetals angina. For years on nitroglycerin tablets, transdermal patches creating burns on chest.
    alternating on my arms.

    Dr Williams put me on these supplements and foods listed. Other therapies with acupuncture. Chest pains, heaviness disappeared. Exercising was enjoyable. Blood levels normalized.

    Will stay with his program, because it works. Full of energy and youthfulness. Highly recommend him, with his vast knowledge and constant research.

  2. It’s a well known medical fact that vitamin C increases nitric oxide production in the body, and that it also protects the molecules.And exercising and staying active is amazingly awesome for pretty much everything. After all, we were never meant to sit around all day. Thanks for this wonderful information.

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