Nitric oxide is an important cellular second messenger and may have a number of beneficial health effects. This relates to a number of factors that may decrease levels of nitric oxide in cells, particularly increased free radical activity. Supplements of beetroot powder can be used as a source of nitrates and this can be converted to nitric oxide through normal cellular metabolic processes. The non-essential amino acid L-arginine can also function as a source of nitric oxide. Studies supplementing humans with 200 mg of beetroot powder and 0.8 g of L-arginine in order to raise cellular levels of nitric oxide have shown that in combination with a high fat meal, these nutrients may cause a slight increase in nitric oxide levels, but the in the study the effects did not reach statistical significance. Taken in isolation these results suggest no real benefit to the supplements, however, in this context of many other studies showing a benefit, these results suggest that beetroot powder and L-arginine are effective at raising levels of cellular nitric oxide.
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