In 1998, the Nobel Prize1in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three American scientists for the discovery of Nitric Oxide (NO) as a signalling molecule (miracle molecule) in the cardiovascular system.
This Nitric Oxide is produced in the endothelium, this is the inner layer of our veins. To produce this nitric oxide the endothelium needs L-Arginine.
Nitric Oxide1 is produced naturally in the body.
A Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery that Nitric Oxide plays an important role in the cardiovascular system.
This discovery identified Nitric Oxide(NO) as a vasodilator, which helps to lower blood pressure and increase oxygen in the blood. Nitric oxide is produced by the lining of blood vessels, known as the endothelium, and acts as a messenger molecule that tells blood vessels to widen or dilate and contract or relax like an elastic band.
With enough Nitric Oxide, blood vessels can relax and dilate allowing blood to flow from and to the heart.
As we age, we produce less Nitric Oxide, which can cause the cardiovascular system to become less elastic, which can reduce the flow of oxygenated blood to vital organs.
That's why it's important to lead an active lifestyle and eat a diet rich in nitrates, which are converted into nitric oxide and can help maintain normal blood pressure levels and a healthy cardiovascular system.
Until we reach adulthood, the body produces enough Nitric Oxide to keep the endothelium cells relaxed and flexible. That is why most young people don’t have high blood pressure or other circulatory problems.
Over the years, most of us develop a hardening of the arteries, making them less flexible and unable to adapt to changes in blood pressure. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood.
This is one reason why heart attacks and strokes are the biggest killers in the western world.
If you want to improve your heart health you need to improve the flexibility of your vascular system.
This improvement will also benefit all the other functions in our organs, bones, brain and skin tissue.
The kidneys play an important role in the regulation of blood pressure. It's a densely vascular organ whose main function is to filter waste products and excess salts and water from the bloodstream.
As the blood passes through the glomerulus (microscopic filter), it removes bacteria, dead cells and waste products (at a rate of about 570ml per minute) and balances minerals, salts and water before returning to the bloodstream via the renal vein.
Without this balancing process, nerves, muscles and other tissues in your body will not function properly. The kidneys also play an important role in regulating hormone function.
Your liver is a vital organ. You cannot live without it. For example, your liver has the following important functions: bile production, carbohydrate metabolism, protein metabolism, fat metabolism, detoxification, cleansing and storage.
To carry out all these different functions, there are two separate systems in your liver:
Dr Ignarro winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine (1998), has dedicated more than 30 years of research to discovering the benefits of Nitric Oxide in preventing and even reversing cardiovascular disease. The benefits don’t stop there. It can also reduce high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and age-proof your cardiovascular system. In the video opposite, Dr. L.J. Ignarro explains what Nitric Oxide is and the important role of L-Arginine in the production of Nitric Oxide. We have transcribed the text below.
Dr. L.J. Ignarro :
As these plaques grow, they can block the flow of blood. This can lead to a reduction in the flow of blood and therefore the flow of nutrients and oxygen to the heart to the point that when you use your heart, when you exercise or walk up the stairs, if the heart is not getting enough blood or oxygen it will feel pain due to ischaemic damage, which is essentially a heart attack.
Nitric oxide is a chemical, or a molecule, or you could even call it a hormone, that is present in the body and it works in certain specific ways within the cardiovascular system.
It is our way of literally protecting ourselves from cardiovascular disease.
For example, it is a molecule that lowers blood pressure. It is our body's mechanism for preventing strokes and heart attacks.The arteries produce nitric oxide to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the organs because nitric oxide is a vasodilator, it widens or relaxes the arteries so that more blood can flow through them.
This lowers the pressure in the arterial system (blood vessels) and protects us from coronary heart disease because it can lower bad cholesterol levels and more.
Nitric Oxide is considered to be a life-saver because it is the body’s natural way of protecting against cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer worldwide and the body can protect itself against all of these heart diseases by producing more and more Nitric Oxide.
When Nitric Oxide becomes deficient it that is when the barriers break down, that is when the protection is lost and the individual becomes very vulnerable and very receptible to heart disease.
In the video to the left, Dr. L.J. Ignarro further explains the numerous benefits of Nitric Oxide. We have transcribed the text for you below.
Nitric Oxide ensures that all organs in the body receive the normal amount of blood, nutrients and oxygen they need, and can also interfere with the blood clotting process, preventing unwanted blood clots from forming.When people have a heart attack, it is often due to a blood clot forming in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart. The same mechanism occurs when a person has a stroke. This is usually due to the development of a blood clot in the cerebral arteries that supply blood to the brain.
So Nitric Oxide is something that we make to prevent this unwanted clotting of blood: it is a vasodilator, which means that it widens those blood vessels and lowers the pressure inside the blood vessels. And it doesn't lower blood pressure if the blood pressure is normal.
That is the beauty of natural substances in our bodies. Nitric Oxide senses when the blood pressure is abnormally elevated and then it steps in to bring that blood pressure back down to the normal range, not below normal.
Nitric Oxide is something that you can't just take from the outside, you can't take it in a pill, you can't put it in water or anything like that, because Nitric Oxide is actually a gaseous substance and it's very unstable, it doesn't last more than a second or two, so you can't really take Nitric Oxide.
What you can do though is you can take the ingredients that your body uses to make Nitric Oxide and that will stabilise the Nitric Oxide and prevent it from breaking down and last longer in your body. Thus dr. L.J. Ignarro.
The endothelium, the inner wall of the artery, needs L-Arginine - see video above - to produce nitric oxide. Taking L-Arginine alone is not enough for the body to reap all the benefits of this amino acid. After long bone growth stops (around the age of 23), the body's ability to absorb L-arginine becomes increasingly limited. 7