Nitric oxide supplements to bulk up

Many people take nitric oxide supplements to bulk up. They allegedly increase your muscle growth, strength and performance. Before we discuss the side effects of these supplements, we have to first know what they contain and what they do not contain!

Contrary to the name – they do not contain nitric oxide, because nitric oxide is a gas!


They usually contain L – arginine, an amino acid which sometimes increases nitric oxide in the body.

Why do we want to increase nitric oxide in the body?

Because nitric oxide increases the blood supply to the muscles and other organs, which should improve their performance.

Now I hate to put this straight to you, but if you’re taking these supplements to bulk up, then you are wasting your time and money.

Research has shown that they do not increase muscle bulk

If on the other hand, you’re taking them to improve your performance, the effect will depend on your physical fitness. These supplements have been shown to improve performance in the average, untrained or half- trained person.

However, highly trained athletes do not get this benefit, because their blood flow is already pumping!

Oral administration of nitric oxide supplements is usually well tolerated at doses up to 15 grams daily. Doses over 30 grams/ day are to be avoided due to highly increased risk of side effects at these high doses.

Reactions to nitric oxide

The most common adverse reactions of higher doses, from 15 to 30 grams daily, include:

1. If you’re an allergic type of person, you may possibly experience symptoms of allergy to arginine, which may include hives, rash, itching, or shortness of breath.

2. Stomach and intestinal discomfort, including bloating, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

nitric oxide supplements_23. Low blood pressure. Avoid use if you currently have low blood pressure or are using blood pressure-lowering agents.

4. In people with heart disease, arginine may increase white blood cell counts, reduce hematocrit, increase post-heart attack deaths, cause lack of energy and strength, vertigo, increased blood pressure, systemic acidosis or venous irritation.

5. Hematuria (blood in urine).

6. Increase in blood urea nitrogen, serum creatine and creatinine.

7. Increase in blood potassium, which may be dangerous if you have impaired kidney function, diabetes or are using potassium-sparing diuretics and potassium supplements. Cardiac arrhythmia is a potential effect of raised blood potassium.

8. Increased inflammatory response may occur in people with asthma or cystic fibrosis.

9. Leg restlessness, lower back pain.

10. If you’re taking blood thinners, or have any history of bleeding disorder, you should avoid these supplements, as they may increase bleeding.

11. Because they increase release of insulin, strict caution must be taken in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar.

12. Use with caution in people with risk for headaches, cancer, or those at risk for, or with, a history of heart attack.

A special word of caution to the ladies:

Please don’t even consider taking these supplements if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or any accompanying diseases. Safety data is lacking, and pregnancy complications are likely.

Also, if you’re postmenopausal, they are better avoided as they cause hormonal changes. Nausea, night sweats and flushing may occur with their withdrawal.

Ok, I understand, you want to increase your nitric oxide so you can have a better blood flow and enhanced performance.

Here is what you can do

1. Exercise – either aerobic or strength training, will definitely increase your nitric oxide, blood flow and performance!

2. Add arginine rich foods to your diet – these also will increase your nitric oxide and blood flow. Examples are nuts, fruits, meats and dairy.

3. Improve the function of the enzymes in your body – consume healthy foods rich in antioxidants, like fruit, soy and garlic, that are necessary for efficient nitric oxide production.

Connect with Expert Dr. Hala Youssef.

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