Nitric Oxide, or NO, is the main player in your body when it comes to promoting vasodilation. Vasodilation is a term scientists use to describe the expansion of your blood vessels. This is an extremely important process … when your blood vessels expand, they allow for a greater amount of blood to flow through them.
Optimizing blood flow is essential for health and physical performance. When healthy and functioning at their best, our blood vessels can expand not just to absorb the increased pressure from our heart beating (key for heart health) but to promote increases in blood flow to working muscles and our brain, delivering more oxygen and nutrients.
NO is so important that Dr. Velentin Fuster, the former president of the American Heart Association, referred to the discovery of NO and its role in blood vessel functions as “… one of the most important in the history of cardiovascular medicine.”
And, it’s not just important for your heart health. Increasing nitric oxide levels is increasingly becoming an important tool for recreational and competitive athletes that are looking to better manage fatigue leading to improved performance.
But here’s the bad news about NO: Aging and modern life are stripping you of the health benefits.
Your Body is Producing Less Nitric Oxide with Every Passing Day
Research studies show us that as we get older our bodies produce less and less NO. In fact, men in their 40s produce 50 percent less than they did when they were in their 20s, while women produce 35 percent less.
Chronic Stress Crushes NO
Ongoing stress has been shown to reduce NO production in the body and the brain, leading to decreases in metabolic resources that support optimal performance and health. When you are stressed, you need more blood flow, oxygen, and nutrient delivery – not less.
Insufficient Sleep Sufficiently Suppresses NO Production
Sometimes the hustle requires less sleep. But when it does, you still need to be able to function at your best. Unfortunately, preliminary research suggests that varying levels of sleep deprivation yield a decrease in NO production.
In addition to these factors, NO is also a short-lived molecule. It isn’t a hormone that can stay elevated for hours or days. It is produced, your body uses it, then it’s gone.
This is why having part of your daily health regimen that focuses on supporting blood vessel health and NO production is so important. A simple step in that direction is taking a multivitamin that is designed to support your body’s natural ability to produce NO.