Nitric Oxide (NO) is a molecule produced by nearly every cell in the human body. It is vital to numerous functions such as circulation, digestion, and energy production. NO is also responsible for intracellular communication, which is essential for cellular processes to be successful. A commonly accepted fact is that nitric oxide production naturally declines as we get older. Furthermore, many people are still unfamiliar with all the health benefits associated with NO. So if you are reading this, you’re off to a good start! We want to be mindful of nitric oxide deficiency so we can implement measures to bring them back up as needed. Plenty of research shows that nitric oxide deficiency is linked to numerous health problems. Therefore, you need to know how to combat this deficiency when it occurs.


What Is NO Exactly?

Nitric oxide is a gas produced in blood vessel linings. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes and widens the blood vessels. This allows more oxygen and nutrients to be delivered more efficiently throughout the body. This vasodilation also lowers your blood pressure, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular issues, hypertension, and heart disease. NO is so important to the body because it serves a role in so many functions.

Nitric oxide levels affect muscle soreness, digestion, cognitive health, vision, sexual health, and help cells communicate with one another. Because it is so vital to so many body functions, things can go wrong rapidly when nitric oxide levels get too low.


Causes of Nitric Oxide Deficiency

Like I already said, age causes the decline of nitric oxide production naturally. However, other factors can speed up nitric oxide deficiency as well. Some of these other factors are:


  • A sub-optimal diet with low amounts of nitrates and other nitric oxide precursors.
  • Vices such as excessive smoking.
  • A sedentary lifestyle.
  • Consumption of foods and medications that inhibit NO production.
  • The use of items such as mouthwash and hand washes that kill bacteria that aid in nitric oxide production.

As nitric oxide deficiency becomes more apparent, health problems will be more noticeable. Heart disease and other cardiovascular problems can begin as NO production decreases. Blood flow regulation is immensely important for our bodies to function optimally, so NO is vital to our health.


Nitric Oxide Deficiency Symptoms To Look For

Now that we have a small understanding of what we have to lose when NO production falls, let’s look at some of the symptoms associated with low nitric oxide levels so we can know when to take action.


1. Frequent Stress

In today’s world, stress is inevitable to a degree. The problem comes when it occurs too frequently and we do nothing to combat it. As stress sets in, you may notice an elevated heart rate, constricted blood vessels, mood swings, low energy, changes in appetite, and more. This chronic stress also leads to the activation of your sympathetic nervous system, or your Fight, Flight, or Freeze Response. When this occurs, your body releases a cocktail of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Prolonged durations in this state are not good for the body.

While many factors can contribute to chronic stress, a little-known factor is nitric oxide deficiency. So when stress occurs, something we can control is how we respond. Here are a few activities you can do when stressed that will boost your nitric oxide levels:


  • Eating some foods rich in NO boosters like nitrates, L-arginine, and L-citrulline
  • Exercising
  • Practicing nose breathing techniques
  • Meditation


2. Poor Sleep

This problem is not fully researched yet, but there was a 2006 study that linked nitric oxide as a sleep facilitator. Reduced NO levels were found to impact insomnia and other sleep problems. Furthermore, recovery sleep was also seen to be reduced when NO levels were low. While more research is needed, there is evidence showing NO production is linked to sleep problems.

With this in mind, a few things we can do to boost our NO levels before bed:


  • Taking an NO booster supplement before bed
  • Nose breathing and other deep breathing exercises before bed


3. Vision Problems

Struggling to see things too close or too far away? A nitric oxide deficiency might be to blame. It should be stated that vision problems do not immediately mean you have a NO deficiency. Vision does naturally decline as we age so if you are older, there could be something else at work. However, there is no harm in boosting your NO levels if you are experiencing vision problems as a precaution.

Nitric oxide can help vision problems because NO helps regulate intraocular pressure. NO does this by helping regulate the flow of eye fluid. It is this flow of eye fluid that affects the intraocular pressure. A nitric oxide deficiency can make this eye flow less effective. This ineffectiveness can lead to developing poor vision and other eye problems. Consuming a nitrate or other NO precursor-rich diet as well as finding a high-quality NO boosting supplement can help keep your intraocular pressure in check.


4. Memory Loss

Do you frequently misplace your keys and cannot remember where you last had them? Constantly forgetting items on that to-do list you’ve looked at a billion times? We are all a little forgetful at times, but when memory loss becomes more frequent and severe, a nitric oxide deficiency might have something to do with it. Nitric oxide deficiency is linked to cognitive problems such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Yes, memory can dull with age, but if you or those close to you notice more memory loss, it will not hurt to boost your NO levels to be safe.


5. Lower Endurance and Stamina

Some of the health benefits associated with nitric oxide include improved exercise performance and increased stamina and endurance. With this in mind, if you are noticing a drop in endurance, it could be a nitric oxide deficiency. Studies link NO levels to exercise stamina. Lower NO has been linked to getting winded during a workout as well as increasing recovery time post-workout. While stress and other factors are certainly at play, you would do well to increase nitric oxide levels via diet and supplementation.


6. Fatigue and Low Energy

Have you ever had a day where you woke up after a solid 7-8 hours of sleep, and you still feel tired? You got up, got dressed, started moving around, got your cup of coffee, and still feel like you have no energy to get through the day? Don’t fret, it happens to the best of us. Low energy feels like you’re constantly sleepy or experiencing something similar to jet lag. Turns out, that low energy is linked to a nitric oxide deficiency.

As we age, we become more prone to fatigue, so it is important that we boost our nitric oxide levels when we experience fatigue and low energy just in case. Diet, exercise, and supplementation can also help improve energy levels.


7. Running Hotter Than Normal

Are you feeling a little hot? It could be a fever, or it could be your nitric oxide levels. When your nitric oxide levels are too low, you can experience a rise in your body’s baseline temperature. This is because when NO is low, the NO synthase inhibition present in the central nervous system causes your body temperature to rise. The intensity of this rise and fall in temperature from fluctuating nitric oxide levels will vary from person to person and the effects will be felt to varying degrees. So if you experience any feelings of being warmer than you think you should be, check your temp and then consume some nitric oxide boosters.


8. Stiffness

Have you noticed yourself feeling achy and stiff more often than usual despite no changes in your daily activity? If so, it could be a sign of low nitric oxide. A little soreness after a tough workout can be normal, but excessive soreness even days after a workout, or general lack of mobility and excessive body aches can be due to low NO. A healthy and functional body should rarely ache. To combat this, we want to improve blood flow so free radicals and lactic acid can be pushed out while oxygen and nutrients get pushed in.

Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, meaning it excels at widening blood vessels and enhancing blood flow efficiency. If you are noticing decreased movement capacity outside of an injury or explanation and excessive aches and pains, consider amping up your NO levels with a nitric oxide boosting meal or supplement to get those muscles some help.


Final Thoughts on Nitric Oxide Deficiency

Most of these nitric oxide deficiency symptoms are easy to spot and deal with. However, if you are uneducated on what nitric oxide is and how it affects the body, you might not even realize you are deficient in it. Low NO levels are something you can easily do something about on your own quickly. Making lifestyle changes through diet and exercise and engaging in NO boosting activities such as nose breathing will all help improve the symptoms of low nitric oxide levels. Knowing the signs will make it easier for you to take action, and every action taken positively impacts your health and quality of life. The list of symptoms above is far from exhaustive, but it gives you plenty of symptoms to be aware of.

If you notice any of these symptoms, implement the suggestions above and your nitric oxide levels can be restored. Nitric oxide deteriorates quickly, so consistent replacement is a must. If you have already optimized your diet and lifestyle to maximize your nitric oxide production, then look to supplementation.