AmiN.O. Pump

Nitric oxide precursors

Pre-workout drinks which raise the levels of nitric oxide (NO) in your system are a craze with gym goers and athletes alike. The reason the so called pump you get when doing typical bodybuilding exercises combined with the ability to rep out a few more on all exercises.

Contrary to anecdotal evidence, however, there is not much published research on the alleged effects of pre-workout intake of NO.

The question to be asked is: do pre-workout supplements really bump up your blood NO levels? And, are they worth spending your hard-earned money on!

Let us investigate!

Chemistry of Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide or NO for short is a chemical released by the innermost layers of your blood vessels the endothelium; main function it serves is causing relaxation of the blood vessel walls resulting. This causes increased blood supply to the concerned organ or tissue.

Not surprising then that NO is also known as the endothelium derived relaxing factor (EDRF) (Furchgott & Zawadzki, 1980).

NO is synthesized from the amino acid l-arginine; the process requires the presence of oxygen, enzymes and co-factors like vitamins (Collier & Vallance, 1991). Thus, arginine (being the precursor of NO) is present in most pre-workout NO boosting supplement formulations.

Physiological Roles of Nitric Oxide

Some of the important physiological functions that nitric oxide serves are as follows (Thomas et al., 2008; Anderson, 2000; Salanova, Schiffl, Puttmann, Schoser, & Blottner, 2008):

  • Increases blood flow owing to the relaxation of blood vessel walls (Furchgott & Zawadzki, 1980)
  • Improved resistance to development of angina and other peripheral arterial diseases
  • Enhances immune function (with decreased stickiness of the white blood cells as well as platelets)
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