On Your Mark Nutrition

Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide

Determine if Beets Can Enhance Your Health and Performance

Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas that is critical to health and exercise performance. It is involved in many functions such as blood flow, immunity, neurotransmission and cognition. NO is needed for red blood cells to deliver oxygen from lungs to other parts of our body, such as muscle. It behaves as a vasodilator, which dilates blood vessels to increase blood flow. This enhances the efficiency of oxygen uptake in muscles during strenuous exercise.

NO saliva testing is important to gauge how you can optimize your cardiovascular health and potentially use dietary nitrates (the precursor for NO) as an ergogenic aid for performance.

How do we get NO?

Our body can make NO from the amino acid, arginine.

The other way is by getting nitrates and nitrites from our diet - from green, leafy vegetables like spinach and root vegetables like beets. Nitrates convert to nitrites that convert to NO under low oxygen conditions.

However, before we get NO, nitrate must be converted to nitrite in our mouth by bacteria! Individuals who are deficient in these bacteria could be NO deficient and possibly at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Are beets associated with nitrates?

Whenever you hear about heath and performance benefits from nitrates, this is usually coming from beets - specifically, a beetroot juice supplement because they are loaded with inorganic nitrates.

From a health perspective, why should I care about NO?

The discovery of NO and its function is considered one of the greatest in cardiovascular medicine; hence, nitrate is an essential nutrient for cardiovascular health. NO improves the inner lining of blood vessels, which improves blood flow.

Even though our body can make NO, that ability declines with age. Health consequences of NO insufficiency include hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s, erectile dysfunction, immune dysfunction, chronic inflammation and poor exercise performance.

Dietary nitrates, specific from beetroot juice supplementation, have consistently shown to lower blood pressure. This effect is considered to be one of the biggest benefits to the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet because this diet provides a lot of nitrates from vegetables.  

“The discovery of NO and its function is one of the most important in the history of cardiovascular medicine.” -Dr. Valentin Fuster (1998 President of American Heart Association)

From a sport/exercise perspective, why should I care about NO?

The Australian Institute of Sport classifies Beetroot Juice as a Class A Supplement. Meaning - there’s a high level of evidence supporting improvement in different exercises when taken in the right amount.

NO enhances skeletal muscle function by:

  • Increasing blood flow to muscle (more oxygen and nutrients to muscle and more waste coming out of muscle)

  • Enhancing efficiency of oxygen uptake in muscle

  • Increasing mitochondrial (‘powerhouse’ of the cell that generates energy) efficiency and density

  • Increasing muscular contraction efficiency

Essentially, nitrates can help you do more while expending less energy.

The Benefits

  • Receive An Actionable Beetroot Juice Supplementation Plan For Training/Competition Nutrition: knowing if you are a “responder” or “non-responder” to dietary nitrates can help create a plan for you to take advantage of this nutrient to potentially use as an ergogenic aid for performance.

  • Optimize Cardiovascular Health: salivary levels help gauge how you can optimize your cardiovascular health

Test Details

  • Collection: sample of saliva

  • Results: instant

  • Follow Up Testing: as necessary