In the last two columns I wrote about the health benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO) and why we need more as we age. This week let’s look at how to increase our levels.
L-arginine is a nitric oxide donor and supplementing with this amino acid has been touted as the best way to increase NO levels (see June 11 column #169). But there are problems with L-arginine – it shouldn’t be used by people who have had a heart attack or who have atherosclerosis. Also the chemical pathway to convert arginine to NO doesn’t work so well in people over 40 – the very ones who need it the most. Fortunately there are foods, and a new supplement, that use different enzyme pathways that are safer and more effective.
Certain vegetables, the dark leafy greens, are rich in nitrate and nitrite which the body can convert to NO. An analysis of the factors in the Mediterranean diet found that the most significant food was not olive oil, fish or beans but vegetables, particularly those high in nitrates. Vegetables which are highest in nitrates (in decreasing order) include spinach, kale, Swiss chard, chicory, bok choy, beets, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Other foods which promote the production of NO (but do not contain much nitrate) are apples, pomegranate juice, red wine, dark chocolate, black and green tea and fish oil. Watermelon contains L-citrulline, an amino acid that converts to L-arginine in the body. Citrulline has been found to be safer and more effective at raising NO levels than arginine.
The new supplement for raising NO levels is called Neo40. It contains L-citrulline, vitamin C, beet root and hawthorn (beet root and hawthorn are very high in nitrates). Neo40 is mixed with saliva in the mouth to convert nitrates to nitrites. A recent study found Neo40 to be much more effective than L-arginine in raising blood levels of nitrite which is a biomarker for NO levels.
For more information on nitric oxide and Neo40 see www.neo40.ca and a book called “The Nitric Oxide (NO) Solution” by Nathan S Bryan and Janet Zand, 2010. For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.