The discovery of Nitric Oxide as the key component in the relaxation of blood vessels led to a Nobel prize in 1998 for Robert Furchgott, Louis Ignarro, and Ferid Murad.
Essentially Nitric Oxide (NO)is the active agent when Nitroglycerine is given for angina and when Viagra is given for erectile dysfunction. Because it plays such a key role in vascular health, it is important for people to avoid a deficiency.
NO deficiency has been associated with cardiovascular disease (heart attacks), diabetes, stroke, possibly Alzheimer's, and erectile dysfunction.
In the Paleolithic era, NO precursors were provided primarily by root vegetable and green leafy vegetables. Studies have also shown that Vitamin C increases NO. A study at the The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston showed that Chinese herbal remedies may work by increasing NO levels.
Japanese people are the longest lived people in the world, with one of the lowest incidences of cardiovascular disease. An analysis of traditional Japanese food showed that it contains 5 times as many nitrates as a western diet.
In addition, exercise and NO have a synergistic relationship. Increasing NO increases the ability to exercise (which makes sense since it improves blood flow) In one study, supplementing NO for 3 days prior to an athletic event increased the athletes performance. Exercise also increases levels of NO.
Unfortunately our modern western diet and lifestyle often lack the nutrients and activities which promote healthy levels of NO. Understanding where this important molecule comes from and how to increase it is very important.
Incidentally, NO is also a component of air pollution and the discovery of its importance to our health was a surprise.
A simple saliva test can be used to see if a person has a healthy amount of NO.
To review the primary source material for most of this short overview please visit the website below.