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Nitric Oxide And Its Significance In Body Functioning

Nitric oxide is essential for several processes that take place in the human body. When heart-healthy conditions are sensed, for instance low cholesterol and physical activity, then more amount of nitric oxide is released. However, situations wherein levels of nitric oxide go low can turn harmful. Read on to know more about this and what you can do to maintain the levels.

What Is Nitric Oxide's Function In The Human Body?

Nitric oxide is naturally produced by our body and it is important for the overall wellness of the human body.

The functions of nitric oxide in the body systems are listed below:

• Cardiovascular system: Reduces blood pressure by relaxing vascular smooth muscles, controls vascular tone, inhibits the aggregation of platelets in the vessels, prevents thrombotic occurrences, dilates vessels and keeps one free of the pain related to angina.

• Respiratory system: Dilates pulmonary vessels and is beneficial in the case of respiratory distress in adults and also in cases such as pulmonary hypertension and chronic obstructive airway disease.

• Nervous system: Increases cerebral blood flow, mediates sexual arousal and acts as a neurotransmitter.

• Immune system: Modulates T cell-mediated immune response

• Digestive system: Controls peristalsis, controls function of sphincters, regulates the relaxation of smooth muscles.

• Renal system: Increases the glomerular filtration rate, increases blood flow to the kidneys (vasodilatory effect).

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What Are The Normal Levels Of Nitric Oxide In The Body?

The normal levels of nitric oxide are about just under 20 parts per billion in kids and about just under 25 parts per billion in adults.


What Happens If The Levels Decrease?

If there is a deficiency of nitric oxide, it can lead to various disorders such as those stated below:

• Chronic kidney disease

• High blood pressure

• Congenital deformities (hypertrophic pyloric stenosis, achalasia cardia and Hirschsprung's disease)

Due to insufficient nitric oxide, there could be skin issues such as psoriasis. This happens due to the promotion of cell proliferation and reduction in the differentiation of skin cells.

Reduced levels of nitric oxide in the endothelial cells that happen to line the skin's blood vessels can also cause systemic sclerosis and localized scleroderma (morphoea).


How Can You Boost Nitric Oxide Levels?

Nitric oxide production is essential as it helps in the nutrients, blood and oxygen to reach out to every part of the body in an efficient manner. However, if the natural production of nitric oxide is reduced, you can choose to maintain the optimal levels of it with the use of foods and supplements.


Include vegetables that are high in nitrates in your diet

Vegetables serve to be a great source of nitrates. Consumption of vegetables that are rich in nitrates will improve your heart health. Vegetables that are high in nitrates are lettuce, beetroot, spinach, arugula, chervil, celery and cress.

On the consumption of these vegetables, nitrates get converted to nitric oxide. Nitrates from vegetables are good for health, whereas nitrates from processed meats can be an unhealthier version and best avoided.


Increase the intake of antioxidants

Nitric oxide needs to be replenished constantly as it keeps getting degraded in the bloodstream. Consumption of antioxidants limits its breakdown and increases its overall stability.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Primarily antioxidants are found in foods that have a plant origin such as nuts, seeds, fruits, etc.

The following are the top antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C: Helps the body form connective tissues. It also helps the communication of nerve cells by producing brain chemicals.
  • Vitamin E: Keeps the immune system strong. Protects cells from the damaging effect of free radicals.
  • Glutathione: This serves to be the master antioxidant and also detoxifies every cell in the body.
  • Polyphenols: Aids in reducing the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

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Nitric oxide-boosting supplements

These are nitric oxide boosters. These supplements work by aiding the formation of nitric oxide in the body. The most common ones are:

• L-Arginine: This is an essential amino acid. A process called L-arginine NO pathway helps in the production of nitric oxide.

• L-Citruline: This is a dispensable amino acid. This increases the level of L-arginine in the body. When L-arginine gets converted to nitric oxide, the byproduct obtained is L-citruline.


Avoid the use of mouthwash

Mouthwashes destroy the bacteria in the mouth. However, the sad part is that mouthwashes destroy the good bacteria as well. Special bacteria work towards converting nitrate into nitric oxide. Nitric oxide from nitrates cannot be produced if these bacteria do not exist.

Read more about: heart lungs nervous
Story first published: Sunday, October 7, 2018, 11:00 [IST]
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