So you are interested in Nitric Oxide…Well If you’ve seen any of the Fast and Furious movies, no doubt you’ll remember the scenes when the heroes are racing against villains and they press a button labeled “NOS”. The moment they press the button, the Nitrous Oxide floods the engine, producing an explosive burst of speed, and the hero ZOOMS past the villain to win the race. Pretty sweet, right?
Make no mistake: the nitrous oxide (NOS) used in vehicles is NOT the same as the nitric oxide (NO) in your body. However, the effects are very similar–in effect, nitric oxide can kick your body into overdrive and drastically increase energy production. In addition to a variety of other positive health effects.
What is Nitric Oxide?
To simplify what could be a very technical explanation, nitric oxide is a gaseous signaling molecule found in the human body. What sort of signals does it send? Primarily, its job is to tell your blood vessels to dilate. This is actually a lot more important than it sounds!
Dilated blood vessels allow more blood to flow through them. This means that the heart can push more of your blood through your body with each pump, and more oxygen and nutrients can flow through the blood vessels to nourish all of your organs, glands, and tissues. Essentially, nitric oxide helps to increase your circulation.
Nitric oxide protects your heart — By increasing blood flow, nitric oxide reduces the strain on your heart . Your heart doesn’t have to work so hard to pump enough blood to all of your body parts, so there’s less risk of heart problems. Increasing nitric oxide in your body can help to prevent cardiovascular disease, lower your blood pressure, and stop cholesterol from causing problems.
Nitric oxide is necessary for erections — That’s right: you need nitric oxide to “get a stiffy”.  Nitric oxide stimulates a chain reaction that causes the smooth muscle of your corpus cavernosum to relax and absorb blood. The more blood it absorbs, the larger and harder your erection grows until, success, you’ve achieved “full wood”! People suffering from erectile dysfunction often have low nitric oxide levels, so increasing nitric oxide is the best way to combat erectile problems.
Nitric oxide improves your brain health — Your brain requires two things to function well: oxygen and nutrients. Guess where both of those come from. That’s right, your blood! By improving circulation, nitric oxide helps to increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your brain. Studies  have shown that an increase in nitric oxide could help to reduce brain disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia, as well as protect from oxidative stress .
Nitric oxide plays a role in your workout — When you lift weights, run, swim, or box, your muscles use A LOT of energy and oxygen. Your heart pumps faster to try to replenish the energy and oxygen you’ve used up, which is why you have such a high heart rate while working out. Nitric oxide has the ability to dilate your blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow with every pump of your heart. Your muscles get more oxygen and nutrients with every heartbeat, enhancing your workout and reducing the strain on your heart.
As you can see, nitric oxide is a VERY important nutrient!
Nitric Oxide + Testosterone = Optimal Health
Nitric oxide and testosterone are sort of like the “chicken and the egg”. When the levels of one fall, the other falls as well. When the levels of one rises, the other rises as well. Nitric oxide and your male sex hormone are inextricably linked, that much you can be sure!
The Role of Testosterone on Nitric Oxide
It’s a well-known fact that higher testosterone levels (in men) is always better. Testosterone helps to improve your body’s overall health and function, and it will have a direct impact on your nitric oxide levels.
For example, did you know that testosterone helps to reduce inflammation in your arteries ? Without enough testosterone, the plaque that forms in your arteries hardens, which makes it difficult for nitric oxide to dilate the blood vessels. Arteries that are covered with hardened plaque just can’t produce enough nitric oxide, which can have an effect on other parts of your body–specifically your heart health and your ability to pop a boner. As your body is unable to dilate the blood vessels sufficiently, you won’t be able to get an erection, and your risk of heart disease increases.
It’s sort of a vicious cycle: the lower your testosterone levels, the more your nitric oxide production is suppressed, which in turn causes your testosterone levels to continue decreasing. NOT what you want for optimum health!
The Role of Nitric Oxide on Testosterone
There are three main ways that nitric oxide can affect your testosterone levels:
- It affects sleep — A good night’s sleep is a VERY important part of ensuring that your body can produce enough testosterone. Your body produces a significant amount of testosterone as you sleep, which is why sleep disorders can have such disastrous consequences on your testosterone levels . Nitric oxide controls the release of acetylcholine in your brain, which helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycles. Decreased nitric oxide levels will negatively affect your sleep, which in turn will suppress testosterone production. To increase testosterone levels, you need to sleep more, which means you need more nitric oxide!
- It affects mood — Testosterone levels tend to rise as you compete and achieve victory in physical competitions, and they can drop when you suffer from depression and other emotional disorders. Low nitric oxide levels can increase your risk of clinical depression , which could in turn lead to low testosterone levels. Definitely one more reason to keep those nitric oxide levels high!
- It affects sex — Did you know that Viagra’s job is to STOP endothelial nitric oxide from being destroyed? By doing so, it helps to increase overall nitric oxide levels, allowing for better blood flow and thus more awesome erections. Studies have shown  that more sex leads to higher testosterone levels.
In the end, it’s pretty clear: testosterone and nitric oxide BOTH play very important roles in the male human body, and both are needed in order to have healthy body function. If either gets too low, the other will soon follow suit. Thankfully, when one is on the rise, it increases levels of the other as well.
How to Increase Nitric Oxide Levels
If your goal is to boost testosterone, it’s DEFINITELY in your best interest to boost nitric oxide levels as well. How can you do that? Here are a few simple steps to help you increase your levels of nitric oxide:
Take Grape Seed Extract
Grape Seed Extract is an amazing supplement, one that can have direct benefits on your testosterone levels thanks to its ability to block the enzyme aromatase. It’s a supplement that can help to increase circulation, and it will also enhance nitric oxide production.
One study  found that the polyphenols extracted from grape seeds help to increase nitric oxide levels, as well as reduce liver damage. Another study  found that grape seed extract enhances the expression of the enzyme responsible for stimulating the production of nitric oxide, thereby leading to more nitric oxide produced.
Why Grape Seed Extract and not regular grapes? Well, the problem is that grapes in their natural form don’t contain sufficient quantities of the procyanidins (polyphenols) that increase nitric oxide levels. By taking the concentrated form of the polyphenols, you can cause a direct improvement in your NO production.
Yes, exercise really IS the solution to most of your problems!
We all know that exercise helps to improve your circulation in a number of ways:
- It strengthens your heart, making it more powerful with each pump.
- It helps to reduce free-floating fats, preventing cholesterol from clinging to the walls of your arteries and hardening into plaque
- It enables your blood vessels to dilate more easily, thus leading to better blood flow.
- It increases your body’s ability to transport more oxygen, and it helps your lungs to absorb more oxygen with each breath.
DEFINITELY a good way to keep your heart healthy.
But, the better your cardiovascular system works, the more endothelial nitric oxide your arteries will be able to produce. Regular exercise can help to drastically improve your nitric oxide levels, and, as we all know, can also increase testosterone production.
What type of exercise is best for nitric oxide production ? ALL exercise works–aerobic, HIIT, resistance training, circuit training, etc.–but it’s resistance training (with weights) that’s the most effective for boosting testosterone levels. By increasing your testosterone levels through regular strength and power training, you can further increase nitric oxide levels.
Get More Sun
How can the sun help to increase nitric oxide production? It all comes down to light!
Your body produces Vitamin D as a result of exposure to sunlight, which helps to improve the health of your skin, hair, bones, blood vessels, and internal organs. But did you know that sunlight also causes your body to produce nitric oxide as well?  In fact, the moment your skin is kissed by the sun, nitric oxide is flooded into your bloodstream to allow the blood vessels to dilate in expectation of the heat. (Remember that your pores and blood vessels dilate to allow more heat to escape, preventing overheating.)
Note: Be wary of spending too much time in the sun, as excessive exposure to UV light can lead to skin cancer. However, with up to 30 minutes of direct sunlight per day, you can seriously boost nitric oxide production.
Try a Few Simple Supplements
There are a number of supplements that can help to increase your production of nitric oxide:
- Capsaicin — This compound extracted from chili peppers helps to increase circulation, dilate the blood vessels, and produce more nitric oxide. Feel the burn!
- Niacin –– Vitamin B3 is one of the supplements recommended for a healthy heart, and it’s highly effective at reducing your risk of stroke thanks to its ability to increase your baseline nitric oxide levels–along with good HDL cholesterol, of course.
- CoQ10 –– Coenzyme Q10 is a molecule that produces the energy your body needs to keep running, jumping, and playing, and studies have shown that an increased intake of this molecule  can help to relax the walls of your arteries, lower your blood pressure, and increase circulation. The result: better nitric oxide production.
- Ginseng –– Ginseng is an excellent supplement for boosting circulation, thanks to the ginesonides that are similar in chemical structure to testosterone. The herb can increase testosterone levels, improve your blood flow, and enhance your body’s natural production of nitric oxide.
- L-Citrulline — Citrulline is an amino acid your body needs to produce L-Arginine, an amino acid that your body turns into nitric oxide. Basically, increasing Citrulline levels directly impacts nitric oxide levels. Citrulline is a more effective supplement than arginine, as it’s easier for your body to absorb and use than lab-produced arginine.
- Vitamin C — Vitamin C can have a direct effect on nitric oxide production, protecting the molecules once they are formed as well as increasing overall output. If you can take garlic WITH the Vitamin C, the quercetin in the garlic will double the effectiveness of the Vitamin, thereby drastically increasing nitric oxide production.
There are many more supplements you can take to increase your nitric oxide production, but these are the ones that have proven MOST effective!