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How to naturally raise Nitric Oxide (NO) levels in your body

Updated on July 1, 2015
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What causes low nitric oxide levels

Nitric oxide (NO) levels can be lowered for a number of reasons, such as aging or genetic factors. Having multiple Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS) mutations can down regulate the production of nitric oxide that is naturally produced in your body. Over time our body's produce less and less Nitric oxide (which could account for higher incidence of cardiovascular disease over the age of 40).

Generally speaking the more factors (such as number of NOS mutations) involved with NO, the lower the production of nitric oxide will be in the body. Low Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) levels due to Sulfite Oxidase (SUOX) mutations, MTHFR mutations (specifically A1298) can also affect levels of nitric oxide.

BH4 is needed to form nitric oxide levels so it may be necessary to treat other genetic mutations before trying to raise nitric oxide using diet and/or supplements. Raising BH4 levels if low should be elevated before trying to raise nitric oxide levels, since it is needed for form nitric oxide. I go into genetic factors and genetic issues more in depth here: and also here:

What problems can be caused by low nitric oxide levels

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator (dilates/opens up blood vessels) which affects blood flow, so at decreased levels this leads to poor blood flow and circulation. Poor circulation or blood flow can lead to problems such as high blood pressure. Other conditions low nitric oxide as associated with are arthritis, sleep apnea, poor immunity, sexual impotence, brain fog/memory loss among others.

Many supplements or even medications designed to help with sexual impotence (erectile dysfunction for men), merely raise levels of nitric oxide levels, due to blood flow being a primary cause and problem (especially for older men).

There has been some correlation between arthritis and nitric oxide as well, showing that by increasing nitric oxide and therefore blood flow it can decrease nerve irritation and inflammation and pain in joints.

Studies have even shown those that suffer from sleep apnea may suffer from low levels of nitric oxide. Other sleep problems have been shown to be associated with low nitric oxide levels as well, especially as we age. It has been theorized that by increasing levels of nitric oxide it may benefit those with sleep problems, particularly with falling asleep and having more restful sleep.

Low nitric oxide levels can also influence and affect athletic performance as well. Particularly in regards to strength training/muscle building, low nitric oxide can impede recovery and be counteractive to increasing muscle mass. Due to poor blood flow muscles don't get enough nutrients they need to recover and grow stronger.

Nitric Oxide related health functions/issues

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10 Saliva Nitric Oxide Test Strips

Nitric Oxide Diagnostics Test Strips By Neogenis 10 Strips
Nitric Oxide Diagnostics Test Strips By Neogenis 10 Strips

10 saliva test strips for nitric oxide testing.


How to boost nitric oxide levels naturally and with supplements

Foods containing nitrates naturally raise levels of nitric oxide produced in the body. Nitrates are often added to foods to preserve them as well (such as processed meats), these nitrates should be avoided. Naturally occurring nitrates found in many foods are very healthy and help promote production of nitric oxide. Here is a list of foods high in nitrates:

  • green leafy vegetables (contain naturally occurring nitrates)
  • aubergine
  • beetroot
  • broccoli
  • cabbage and kale
  • chard
  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • garlic
  • kohlrabi
  • lettuce especially rocket, iceberg, cos
  • pumpkin
  • radishes, especially black radish
  • string beans
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes and
  • Spinach
  • cocoa/chocolate
  • watermelon

Exercise is also another way to get blood pumping as well as boost production of nitric oxide. There are a number of supplements that help boost nitric oxide production as well. They are particularly popular among weight lifters. Some may even contain Nitric Oxide (NO) itself but it is best to boost nitric oxide production naturally as supplementing with nitric oxide directly may lead to lowering your body's stores of B12 and other health complications. It is always best to either supplement with a co enzyme or a precursor to whatever you are trying to boost when possible.

Arginine and Citruline are two amino acids that are often used to promote nitric oxide. Lately research has shown that arginine has very little effect on promoting nitric oxide. This is because arginine is easily broken down by our digestive system and not easily absorbed. Citruline on the other hand when broken down by our digestive system is converted into citruline which is then used to boost nitric oxide. Citruline malate is the best form of citruline to supplement with in regards to boosting nitric oxide in the body.

Forms of arginine such as arginine ethyl ester and Arginine alpha-ketoglutarate are more easily digested and utilized by the body, because of the added ingredients to those forms of arginine to make it more usable/digestible by the body.

Other common supplements to boost nitric oxide are hawthorne extract, beet(root) extract, agmatine sulfate (although those with sulfur/thiol sensitivity may want to avoid it), and beta alanine amino acid.

It is best to supplement or try one thing at a time though. I would recommend with adding more nitrate rich foods at first, you may even be able to juice or make a smoothie with a combination of foods to make a nitric oxide boosting smoothie/juice.

I would then add in citruline malate if nitric oxide is not to sufficient levels (in a bit I will go more in depth into testing which can be done at home for cheap). Start at the lowest dosage of citruline malate and then every week after testing depending on results increase dosage. Depending on a number of factors it may require more then just diet or diet with citruline malate and require additional supplements. If testing does show nitric oxide is still low add in one supplement at a time and increase slowly, such as adding in one supplement a week.

Beta Alanine Powder 500 grams

NOW Sports Nutrition, Beta Alanine Powder, 500 Grams
NOW Sports Nutrition, Beta Alanine Powder, 500 Grams

An amino acid that can help boost nitric oxide levels. Try adding this after working on diet and adding in citruline. Best when mixed with juice, smoothie, protein drink or electrolyte drink/mix.


Testing nitric oxide and how to get additional help

Testing for nitric oxide is relatively simple and easy to do. It doesn't even require a lab test or seeing a doctor. You can purchase test strips online, the two best options I have found are 10 strips or 50 strips. I test once a week so whether you purchase 10 strips or 50 strips they will last for quite some time. The test strips for nitric oxide use saliva test strips.

To test your nitric oxide it is best to test when you first wake up before eating/drinking anything. First wash your hands, then gather saliva on your fingertip to put on the test strip. Compare the test strip to the color coded chart on the container to find out what level your nitric oxide is at.

It is best to test before trying any changes to your diet and/or adding supplements. Testing is done weekly to see what effects the dietary changes and added supplements to your nitric oxide levels.

It may be necessary as previously noted to get other issues fixed before attempting to raise nitric oxide levels. Other mutations aside from NOS mutations which affect ammonia (and that affect BH4 levels) may need to be fixed or treated beforehand. Mutations affecting ammonia and BH4 levels are SUOX and A1298 as well as CBS mutations as well.

It may require a genetic test, such as a 23andme test to get a picture of the whole genome and how to treat it as a whole. For help with genetic issues such as those associated with mthfr, methylation and detoxification it is best left to the experts. You can find a list of qualified health practitioners here:

Functional medicine practitioners may be able to help as well, to find a local functional medicine practitioner check out:

Arginine Ethyl Ester powder 500 grams

NutraBio L-Arginine Ethyl Ester Powder - 500 Grams
NutraBio L-Arginine Ethyl Ester Powder - 500 Grams

Add this after trying citruline and diet adjustments to improve nitric oxide levels. Best when mixed with juice, smoothie, protein drink or electrolyte drink/mix.


Agmatine Sulfate powder 125 grams

Hard Rhino Agmatine Sulfate Powder, 125 Grams (4.4 Oz), Unflavored, Lab-Tested, Scoop Included
Hard Rhino Agmatine Sulfate Powder, 125 Grams (4.4 Oz), Unflavored, Lab-Tested, Scoop Included

Add this after having tried adding citruline and diet adjustments to increase nitric oxide levels. Best when mixed with juice, smoothie, protein drink or electrolyte drink/mix. If you have thiol/sulfur issues/sensitivity I would avoid using this supplement.



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