Nitric oxide benefits and side effects

Nitric oxide supplements have played an integral role in bodybuilding since 1996. These supplements help athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike improve circulation, build muscle, and boost immunity.

Interestingly enough, nitric oxide supplements don’t actually contain nitric oxide (NO), which is a gas produced naturally by the body. Rather, these supplements provide various amino acids and other ingredients to spur nitric oxide production.

“To make nitric oxide, enzymes in the body break down the amino acid, arginine, ” explains Jim White, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Then, nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation. Improved circulation increases the maximum amount of nutrients and oxygen available to the muscles. More nutrients and oxygen enables the muscles to work harder and longer with reduced fatigue and recovery time.

Nitric oxide supplementation can offer amazing results when the right ingredients are used. Arginine and citrulline (which converts into arginine) are some of the most effective ingredients in the industry.

However, using nitric oxide supplements is a double-edged sword. On one side, you have increased performance and enhanced results, but on the other, you have the risk of negative side effects.

Most Common Nitric Oxide Supplement Side Effects

The most common nitric oxide supplement side effects are primarily minor and include nausea, diarrhea, headaches and stomach problems but there are other potential side effects to be aware of before taking a nitric oxide supplement with some less concerning than others.

1. Increased Urge to Urinate

As mentioned earlier, the amino acid arginine is essential for nitric oxide production. However, consuming excess amounts of arginine often results in more frequent urination.

According to the Food Research International, “In order to produce urine, the body processes liquids into an intermediate stage which is high in the amino acid called arginine. Normally the liver produces enough of the enzyme arginase to convert and concentrate this liquid into urea (urine). When it does not, however, in some people this seems to cause the body to try to expel this high arginine liquid excessively, both day and night.”[1]

How to Regulate This Effect: To avoid this side effect, keep arginine dosages under 5, 000 mg a day. Although this might sound like a lot, you could exceed this dosage in three to four servings of an average nitric oxide supplement.

2. Reduced Dopamine Levels

Another potential side effect is a decrease in dopamine. Effective nitric oxide releasers have an inhibitory effect on dopamine transporters, which decreases uptake by as much as 66%[2].

Dopamine, an organic neurotransmitter, is responsible for regulating the following:

  • Motivation levels
  • Healthy sleep cycles
  • Short and long term memory
  • Cognitive skills

By increasing your nitric oxide production, it could have a negative impact on any of the above functions.

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