Nitric Oxide (NO)
Nitric Oxide is a free form gas that is produced in the body and is used by the body to communicate with other cells. The endothelium (inner lining) of blood vessels use NO to signal the surrounding smooth muscle to relax, thus dilating the artery and increasing blood flow. NO also plays a role in erection of the penis. The production of NO occurs when the amino acid L-arginine is converted into L-citruline through an enzyme group known as Nitric Oxide Synthase (NOS).
Recently, supplements have come available to boost NO levels and give the athlete an increased and longer lasting “pump” in the muscles. This increased in blood flow and nutrients to the muscles aids in muscle growth. Most “nitric oxide” supplements contain the amino acid Arginine-alpha-keto-glutarate (AAKG); a combination of arginine and alpha-keto-glutarate (AKG) which has a synergistic effect on increasing NO levels. There was debate over the NO boosting potential of AKG. Studies showed that AKG on its own was not effective at increasing NO levels. However, when combined with arginine, NO levels were increased.