Nitric oxide (NO) should be on the radar for optimal health and wellness. This molecule, produced by the human body, is of utmost importance to the quality of life, and is only now beginning to get a serious look.

The science of NO is relatively new, although NO-type drugs such as nitroglycerin have been used for hundreds of years. IN the 1980’s three scientists working independently, finally discovered that the mechanism of action of nitroglycerin was through the release of NO. These three Americans were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1998.

NO is produced by the endothelial cells lining the arterial walls. After decades of research, it was discovered that the substrate necessary for NO production was L-arginine, an amino acid. Although NO has been shown to be involved in every biological system, it is best characterised in teh cardiovascular, immune, and nervous system.

Aging is a fact of life and is something most of us dread and try to prevent. As we age, sexual performance declines, incontinence issues arise, our memory fades, physical performance declines, and we wake each day with new aches from out of nowhere. According to Vitamin Research News, September 2011, research over the past 20 years reveals that the loss of one of the most important molecules our body produces may be responsible for many of these symptoms, and is at the root of poor cardiovascular health. When we are young and healthy, the endothelial production of NO is efficient and sufficient enough to produce NO. However, as we age, we lose our ability to make NO from endothelium sources. In other words, as we age, restoration of NO homeostasis may provide a new treatment modality for age and age-related health issues.

The question now is, how do we diagnose NO deficits and how do we intervene? Currently, there are test strips using saliva to measure NO. To date, there are only three FDA approved products on the market directly related to NO. 1) nitroglycerin, used to treat acute angina; 2) inhaled NO therapy for neonates for treatment of pulmonary hypertension due to underdeveloped lungs; 3) phosphodiesterase inhibitors, such as sildenafil.

There are several over-the-counter products designed to enhance NO production using L-arginine, but have not shown success in many cases. There is a new product, Neo40 Daily, which is showing good results in preliminary tests. I’ll keep you up-to date as I hear.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.