How to Increase Nitric Oxide

Brian Green
By Brian Green
November 1, 2013

How to Increase Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide has become increasingly popular for its many health and athletic benefits.

A naturally occurring gas, nitric oxide acts as a neurotransmitter, enhances oxygen and nutrient delivery, and relaxes blood vessels for improved vasodilation.

With these benefits, it’s no surprise athletes utilize nitric oxide in health and exercise regimes. Here’s a closer look at how to increase nitric oxide naturally.

Exercise Regularly

As the heart pumps more oxygen-rich blood to meet the demand of exercised muscles, the lining of the arteries releases nitric oxide. This relaxes and widens blood vessels so blood travels more quickly and efficiently.


In a 3 month study, participants exercised 30 minutes for 5 days a week. Nitric oxide levels were measured before and after the study. At the end, nitric oxide levels had risen significantly.[1]

Based on research, all exercises seem beneficial towards nitric oxide production. However, exercises that keep the heart pumping and body moving at a consistent rate are the ones most commonly used in studies. Examples include running, biking, and cardio fitness routines.

Start Eating These Foods

Certain foods promote nitric oxide production, so incorporating them into your diet is an excellent way to improve performance.

Dark purple, red, and green vegetables such as beets contain components that optimize nitric oxide production. While researchers are not sure exactly which component in beets generates this effect, studies suggest the nitrate properties in beets convert into nitric oxide once ingested.

Before completing exercise tests, 8 men were given 500 ml beet juice. Oxygen uptake was reduced and participants were less tired when exercising than those in the placebo group.[2]

Surprisingly, chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, is also an excellent nitric oxide booster. In one clinical study, 16 subjects were given 30 g dark chocolate a day. After 15 days, nitric oxide levels increased significantly while lowering blood pressure.[3]

Spend Some Time in the Sun

A little bit of sun transforms nitrate in the skin into nitric oxide in the body.

Researchers in one study had 24 volunteers sit under sun lamps for two 20 minute sessions. In the first session, UV rays and heat was emitted. In the second, only heat came from the lamps.

Blood pressure and nitric oxide production only improved in when UV rays were emitted from the sun lamps.[4]

Arginine and Citrulline Supplementation


Arginine and citrulline are two amino acids critical to nitric oxide production. And both can be found in one of the highest rated pre-workout supplements Myonox.

Arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide; citrulline is a byproduct from the process that converts arginine into nitric oxide.

Subjects taking 3 g arginine and 3 g citrulline a day for a week increased in nitric oxide levels than those taking a placebo.[5]

Supplementing with arginine and citrulline products is the most popular nitric oxide boosting technique among athletes and bodybuilders because products often supply clinically studied concentrations.

However, you may also supplement foods rich in arginine and citrulline, such as pomegranates, spinach, celery, poultry, and eggs. Most nuts and fruits contain varying levels of arginine and citrulline as well.


[1] Maeda, Seiji, Takumi Tanabe, Takeshi Otsuki, Jun Sugawara, Motoyuki Iemitsu, Takashi Miyauchi, Shinya Kuno, Ryuichi Ajisaka, and Mitsuo Matsuda. “Moderate Regular Exercise Increases Basal Production of Nitric Oxide in Elderly Women.” Hypertension Research 27.12 (2004): 947-53. Web.

[2]“Beetroot juice boosts stamina, new study shows.” University of Exeter. Available from:

[3]Sudarma, Verawati, Sri Sukmaniah, and Parlindungan Siregar. “Effect of dark chocolate on nitric oxide serum levels and blood pressure in prehypertension subjects.” Acta Med Indones 43.4 (2011): 224-228. Available from:

[4] “Sun Exposure Benefits May Outweigh Risks Say Scientists.” Medical News Today. Available from:

[5] Schwedhelm, Edzard, Renke Maas, Ralf Freese, Donald Jung, Zoltan Lukacs, Alen Jambrecina, William Spickler, Friedrich Schulze, and Rainer H. Böger. “Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Properties of Oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: Impact on Nitric Oxide Metabolism.” British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 65.1 (2008): 51-59. Web.