Nitric oxide is an important neurotransmitter that supports a range of processes, including nerve, muscle, immune system support, and protein structure maintenance. It also plays a key role in cardiovascular and circulatory health and is essential for arterial wall and platelet function.

Nitric Oxide and Your Heart

The health of your arteries depends on a thin inner layer of cells called the endothelium, where nitric oxide is produced and released to promote healthy platelet activity and circulation. 

As a highly reactive compound, nitric oxide travels freely across membranes, acting on a variety of endothelial tissues in the circulatory system, causing them to ‘relax’, promoting healthy circulation and providing multiple benefits for the heart: 

Blood Pressure: Nitric oxide relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen, which promotes circulation and healthy blood pressure levels. 

Blood Glucose: Nitric oxide helps maintain normal insulin function to promote healthy glucose utilization, normal blood glucose levels, and metabolic health. 

Cholesterol: The artery-dilating properties of nitric oxide support healthy circulation, which promotes arterial health and aids blood lipid levels. Additionally, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels supports nitric oxide production. 

Platelet Activity: Nitric oxide keeps platelets from clumping together and reduces the formation of blood clots, supporting healthy circulation. 

Older man working out in the gym

How Aging Affects Nitric Oxide Production

Nitric oxide is produced in nearly every type of cell in the body, but synthesis begins to slow as a part of normal aging, even in healthy adults. There are two ways that our body increases nitric oxide levels. First, our body makes nitric oxide in the endothelium of the arteries, and we can help improve this process by exercising. However, as we age, our body is not as adept at making nitric oxide through this process. The second way to increase nitric oxide is by consuming it through our diet.

Additional Health Benefits of Nitric Oxide

In addition to promoting healthy cardiovascular function and circulation, nitric oxide helps support the health and function of other systems in the body. 

Immune Health: Nitric oxide interacts with DNA, proteins, and many other molecules to support healthy immune cell activity and responses.

Cognitive Health: Nitric oxide works as a neurotransmitter within the synapses, promoting healthy circulation in the brain, which has been shown to support learning and memory. It also plays a role in supporting mood and reducing everyday stress.

Respiratory Health: Through dilation of the bronchioles, the small airways in the lungs, nitric oxide helps promote oxygen circulation through the lungs and efficient delivery of oxygen to tissues. 

Men’s Reproductive Health: As a vasodilator, nitric oxide promotes healthy blood flow and muscle relaxation to support a healthy sex drive and vitality. 

Athletic Performance: By helping to widen blood vessels, nitric oxide helps increase the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to working muscles during exercise. Regular exercise also supports healthy arterial function, which promotes the body’s natural production of nitric oxide.

Heart healthy food

How To Support Nitric Oxide Production

Nitric oxide synthesis begins to slow as a part of normal aging, making it important to maintain healthy nitric oxide levels as you age. And here’s how:

Eat right. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, and limit your fat, sugar, and salt intake. The top food sources for nitric oxide include beets, garlic, leafy greens, pomegranate, nuts, and seeds.

Get moving. Incorporate regular activity into your life, which increases arterial production of nitric oxide.

Manage stress. Everyday stress can interfere with healthy body function and healthy cell aging, so take time for yourself with regular meditations and deep breathing to help the body manage stress to promote a sense of calm and focus. 

Try supplements. You can achieve optimal nitric oxide production with supplements that contain beetroot powder. CardioFitMD® is the ultimate vegan, all-in-one daily nutrition drink that includes a highly concentrated beetroot powder. Along with essential fiber, probiotics, and vitamins and minerals, you help promote nitric oxide production.

Final Thoughts

Nitric oxide provides many benefits for our bodies. As we age, though, the production of nitric oxide slows. With a balanced diet, regular exercise, and the nutritional support of CardioFitMD®, you can maintain healthy nitric oxide levels for proper arterial wall and platelet function, healthy circulation and blood pressure, oxygen and nutrient delivery to muscles for proper energy, and overall heart health.

Dr. Heather Shenkman

Dr. Heather Shenkman is a board certified interventional cardiologist. She completed a six year program at Albany Medical College, graduating at the age of 23. She completed her residency at Henry Ford Hospital, cardiology fellowship at the University of Rochester, and interventional cardiology fellowship at the esteemed Tufts Medical Center in Boston.