7 Reasons Women Need Nitric Oxide
Here's what you need to know about nitric oxide, how to boost your body's natural production, and why it's not just for guys.
You’ve heard plenty about nitric oxide—that versatile molecule touted for its ability to build vein-popping muscle mass. And while it’s traditionally considered a supplement for men, nitric oxide offers a variety of vital benefits for women—especially important as we age. Here’s what you need to know about it, how to boost your body’s natural production, and why it’s not just for guys.
Nitric oxide: what it is, and why you need it.
In basic chemistry, nitric oxide (NO) is a gas made up of one nitrogen atom bonded to one oxygen atom. (Just to be clear, it’s very different from nitrous oxide—the “laughing gas” you may get at your dentist’s office). Naturally produced by the body, nitric oxide plays a pivotal role in circulation, blood vessel health and a myriad of physiological functions. Nitric oxide is so important, it was deemed the Molecule of the Year in 1992, and scientists who discovered its part in the cardiovascular system were awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In the body, nitric oxide is synthesized in the vascular endothelium—a thin membrane lining the inner walls of the blood vessels—where it acts as a vasodilator, triggering vessels to relax and allowing blood to flow more freely. This impact on blood flow is essential for multiple physiological systems, playing a crucial role in vascular (blood vessel) health. And nitric oxide benefits several biological functions that extend well beyond vasodilation, including hormone release and regulation, skeletal muscle metabolism and force production during exercise.
So yes: it’s important—and not just for men. But certain factors, like poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle and excess stress, hamper your ability to produce nitric oxide. Health conditions, including high cholesterol and high blood sugar levels, can impact the body’s production of nitric oxide. Plus, levels of this vital molecule decline over time.
The good news: you can naturally boost your body’s nitric oxide, with simple lifestyle changes. Exercise improves endothelial function, increasing your ability to make nitric oxide, and protects against free radicals that break down nitric oxide. Slow, deep breathing through the nose triggers the release of nitric oxide. And certain foods support nitric oxide production. Beets, celery and spinach are rich in naturally occurring nitrates, converted by the body to nitric oxide, and watermelon, pumpkin and cantaloupe are high in L-Citrulline and L-Arginine, powerful phytochemicals that amplify your body’s production of nitric oxide and promote blood flow.
And for even more protection, choose a supplement proven to increase nitric oxide levels, enhance circulation and support healthy aging. You can’t just take nitric oxide in a pill or powder (it’s a gas, with a half-life of only a few seconds), so most supplements are aimed at improving the body’s natural nitric oxide production. Many contain L-Arginine, an amino acid that’s converted by the body to nitric oxide. The problem: when L-Arginine is taken as a supplement, most of it is broken down before it has a chance to be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
A better solution: L-Citrulline is another amino acid that’s converted by the body to L-Arginine, helping the body use L-Arginine more effectively and boosting nitric oxide levels. Studies suggests L-Citrulline increases L-Arginine and enhances nitric oxide levels better than L-Arginine alone, promoting blood flow, exercise performance and more. Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant, improves endothelial function and nitric oxide bioavailability. When taken together, research shows the combination of glutathione and L-Citrulline leads to higher, longer-lasting levels of nitric oxide.
You’ll find this highly effective fusion of ingredients in Performance Lab® Sport Pre-workout formula. This innovative formula includes Kyowa Quality® L-Citrulline and Setria® Glutathione, better known as Setria® Performance Blend. Kyowa Quality L-Citrulline supports the body’s own nitric oxide production. Setria Glutathione is a unique tripeptide that prolongs the life of nitric oxide and slows its release to help sustain balanced levels in the body.
And Setria Performance Blend is backed by research suggesting it may help support and sustain nitric oxide twice as long as L-Arginine or L-Citrulline, to reduce fatigue and enhance recovery. In studies, a combination of L-Citrulline and Setria significantly increased nitric oxide levels in human endothelial cells, and daily supplementation with 200 mg of Setria and 2 grams of L-Citrulline lead to higher nitric oxide levels 30 minutes post-exercise, compared to placebo.
For optimal nitric oxide production, choose a supplement like Performance Lab Sport Pre, made with science-backed Setria Performance Blend, to boost nitric oxide levels, promote blood flow, improve performance and support overall health.
7 Reasons Women Need Nitric Oxide (NO)
1. It promotes lean, strong muscles, not just mass. Nitric oxide is well known for its role in building bulk and vein-popping muscles—but that’s probably not a top priority for most women. (And since women usually don’t produce high levels of testosterone, super-bulky muscles aren’t likely anyway.) Beyond mass, NO also builds lean and—more importantly—strong muscles. By relaxing blood vessels and promoting blood flow, it enhances the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to working muscles, improving strength and functionality. That’s particularly significant as we grow older, since strong, functional muscles support bones, protect joints, improve metabolic health and promote an active lifestyle, crucial for robust aging.
2. It supports healthy bones. Your skeleton isn’t static. In a lifelong process called remodeling, bone is continuously being broken down and removed, and new bone issue is added, creating healthier bones and a stronger skeleton. Nitric oxide plays an important role in this process, and adequate levels are critical for improving bone strength and minimizing bone loss—especially after menopause, when bone-protective estrogen decreases and bone loss accelerates dramatically. That reduction in estrogen, couple with natural age-related declines in NO, can leave you more susceptible to bone thinning, osteoporosis and fractures. Enhancing NO helps keep your skeleton strong; research suggests supplements that support the body’s own NO production can improve bone mineral density and increase bone strength.
3. It helps you exercise better, longer. Your body thrives on movement, and study after study shows physical activity lessens stress, enhance sleep and mood, boosts immunity, promotes healthy bones and decreases the risk of chronic health concerns as we age. In the absence of routine movement, the body’s ability to produce NO declines, creating a viscous cycle: as your make less nitric oxide, exercise becomes harder. And even if you work out regularly, age-related reductions in NO can impact your fitness regimen. Restoring your body’s NO levels helps blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to muscles, improving exercise capacity and making it easier to work out more often, and longer. And some research suggests NO also influences energy efficiency—how much energy you use to perform a set amount of exercise, so you make the most of your fitness routine.
4. It protects your heart. By triggering blood vessels to relax, NO regulates blood pressure—and it plays a significant role in other important cardiovascular functions. Nitric oxide keeps blood vessels healthy, regulates heart contractions and lessens the risk of blood related disorders. Some studies suggest supplements that enhance NO production can improve cardiovascular health and may protect the heart.
5. It supports brain health. The brain is a hungry organ, relying on a steady flow of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients, remove cellular waste. But decreased NO production can lessen blood flow to the brain, impacting brain health and contributing to a variety of cognitive issues. Nitric oxide also plays significant roles in other important neurological processes, acting as a neurotransmitter and promoting brain cell communication, and studies link defects in NO activity with impairments in learning, memory, and overall cognitive function.
6. It speeds healing and recovery after exercise. A little post-workout muscle soreness is common after strenuous exercise (or a new-to-you routine). High-intensity workouts can cause microscopic tears in muscles, leading to inflammation and tenderness—called delayed-onset muscle soreness that peaks about 24 to 72 hours after working out. A buildup of lactic acid and other pain-producing waste products also contribute to post-workout soreness and fatigue; by promoting blood flow to muscles and enhancing the removal of cellular waste, NO eases sore muscles, speeds recovery and plays an important role in muscle repair. Some studies suggest supplementing with L-Citrulline increases NO levels and reduces muscle soreness after weightlifting. Other research shows a combination of glutathione and L-Citrulline helps support and sustain NO production post-workout—so you can keep your healthy body moving.
7. It may help you sleep better. Besides its other brain-supportive effects, NO is crucial for restful slumber. It works by interacting with neurons and brain chemicals involved in the onset of sleep, and research shows an accumulation of NO in certain regions of the brain is necessary for the body to doze off. Nitric oxide is especially important for deep, slow-wave sleep and rapid-eye-movement (REM) phases that play a role in learning, memory and mood. But as we age, a variety of factors, including menopause, can interfere with restful sleep; and natural age-related decreases in NO may mean you’re tossing and turning well into the night. Restoring NO levels may support healthy sleep patterns, and supplements that support the body’s own NO production can help you snooze, soundly.
About Setria® Performance Blend
Setria® Performance Blend is a unique combination of Setria® Glutathione and Kyowa Quality® L-Citrulline backed by research suggesting it may help support and sustain nitric oxide production post-workout.* Sustained nitric oxide levels may lead to reduced fatigue and support recovery.* Get the edge you’re looking for with Setria Performance Blend. To learn more and find brands with Setria Performance Blend, visit setriaglutathione.com
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Setria® Performance Blend is a registered trademark of KYOWA HAKKO BIO CO., LTD. Copyright © 2021 KYOWA HAKKO U.S.A., INC. All Rights Reserved.