The sports nutrition market in the US is estimated at $5.9 billion per year. Just behind proteins, energy and endurance-boosting products are the second largest-grossing category.
Products that support healthy nitric oxide levels are at the top of the list.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator that is produced by the endothelial cells, which line the arteries. A vasodilator is a substance that widens the diameter of blood vessels to accommodate greater blood flow volume. Nitric oxide is continually produced from dietary L-arginine by the enzyme endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) in the endothelial lining.
Vasodilation status is critical to healthy energy and optimal performance—physically and cognitively—as healthy blood flow equates to optimal nutrient and oxygen delivery to muscles and all other cells. Along with enhanced exercise performance, nitric oxide is important for a number of complex cellular activities, including immune function and brain neurotransmission.
Nitric oxide enhancing products have been around since the mid ‘90s, but it was mostly a niche market geared towards bodybuilders. Now that our world is moving at warp-speed, where high-performance equals greater financial abundance, nitric oxide product marketing is reaching beyond mainstream athletes and into the worlds of weekend warriors, CEOs, manual labor workers, busy parents, and anyone trying to boost daily performance!
We are now seeing trends for the use of nitric oxide-supportive products in these key channels:
- Cardiovascular Health
- Learning & Memory
- Joint Discomfort
- Bone Health
New Trends in Nitrate-Enhancement
There are three mechanisms for improving nitric oxide (NO) function:
- Supplementing with L-arginine
- Increasing dietary nitrate consumption
- Improving the eNOS activity necessary for the conversion of L-arginine to NO.
L-Arginine-based formulas are the original NO-enhancing products. Over the last 5 years, there has been increasing evidence of physiological effects of nitrates for enhancing NO function, via the “nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway.”
Dietary nitrates (NO3–) à nirites (NO2–), à NO
This is particularly more important when the body is responding to oxygen deficient conditions.
Recent research suggests that certain vegetables may be a better way to boost NO function for performance. Beets and leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, arugula, and spinach, are rich in inorganic dietary nitrates compounds that stimulate the production of NO in the body.
Formulas using nitrate-rich vegetables to increase NO function are gaining popularity. However, studies have shown that the amount of nitrates needed to increase nitrite levels resulting in improved exercise performance are on the high side. Multiple studies1,2,3 report that it takes around 5.5 mmol/day of nitrates (316 mg of nitrates), translating to approximately10 grams of dried beet powder.
Improving NO function by increasing eNOS activity can improve nitric Oxide function with lower servings, as well add an extra punch to existing NO-enhancing formulas.
Careless™ is a 100% whole-food-based mango powder that recently has been shown in a randomized, double-blind, crossover pilot study to improve blood flow in healthy women at as low as 100 mg serving.4
An additional in vitro investigation reported that it increased the activated form of eNOS dose dependently, confirming that Careless™’s beneficial effect on microcirculation is partly mediated by eNOS activation.
Careless™ is obtained from fruits harvested in India at a special degree of ripeness. These fruits have higher levels of phytochemicals and lower levels of sugar, compared to fully ripe fruits.
“Measurement of blood flow provides information on metabolism and vascular reactivity,” said Dr. Sybille Buchwald-Werner, Managing Director at Vital Solutions.
The study results showed that Careless™ supports physical performance with beneficial effects for sports and healthy aging.
Add additional benefits to NO-enhancing formulas with polyphenol-based ingredients, such as OxyPhyte® antioxidants.
Plant polyphenols have been shown to enhance the production of NO and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF), which signals vascular cells to relax, thus allowing blood vessels to expand in diameter.6
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- Bailey SJ, et al. 2010. Dietary nitrate supplementation enhances muscle contractile efficiency during knee-extensor exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 109:135-148.
- Bailey SJ, et al. 2009. Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of low-intensity exercise and enhances tolerance to high-intensity exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol. 107:1144-1155.
- Lansley KE, et al. 2011. Dietary nitrate supplemention reduces O2 cost of running and walking: a placebo-controlled study. J Appl Physiol. 110:591-600.
- Gerstgrasser, A. et al. 2016. In vitro activation of eNOS by Mangifera indica (Careless™) and determination of an effective dosage in a randomized, double-blind, human pilot study on microcirculation. Planta Med. 82(4):298-304.
- Galleano M. 2010. Hypertension, nitric oxide, oxidants, and dietary plant polyphenols. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 11(8):837-48.