Nitric oxide is a deceptively simple molecule that plays a critical role in regulating blood flow in your body. While you can’t consume nitric oxide directly, you can take supplements that increase its production inside your body.
Supplements that increase your nitric oxide levels can help improve your exercise performance, increase your strength, and even fight erectile dysfunction.
If this is what you are looking for, check out our rankings of the best nitric oxide boosting supplements on the market.
1. Zhou Nutrition NO Pro
The blend of supplements from Zhou Nutrition in NO Pro takes advantage of the nitric oxide boosting properties of L-arginine, L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, and L-citrulline alongside beet root powder, which is a fairly newly discovered but highly effective nitric oxide booster.
It’s the presence of this final ingredient that pushes NO Pro to the top of the stack. It’s the best in both amino acid based and plant extract based nitric oxide production. Plus, with its vegetable cellulose capsule, even hardcore vegans will love it.
2. Sheer Strength Sheer NO
Sheer NO delivers four excellent compounds that work together to boost nitric oxide levels.
The L-arginine, L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, L-citrulline, and pine bark extract are delivered at 600-1100 mg doses in a simple gelatin capsule.
Without much in the way of extraneous ingredients or fillers, it is a very good choice for boosting your nitric oxide levels.
3. N.O. XT
N.O. XT is mainly centered around the amino acid L-citrulline. Present at a whopping 1.5 grams per serving, this is definitely the key ingredient in this supplement.
You’ll also find a proprietary arginine compound called Nitrosigine and L-glutathione, as well as Bioperine, a proprietary black pepper extract.
The inclusion of Bioperine is typically done to boost absorption of certain biologically active compounds, which further underscores N.O. XT’s reliance on a heavy dose of amino acids for its nitric oxide boosting properties. If this is the angle you want to take, it’s a pretty good product.
4. Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode
Unlike most nitric oxide supplements, Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode comes in a powder form in a tub. You can mix it in with your pre-workout shake or just drink it in a glass of water.
The focus of this supplement is not just nitric oxide levels; it also includes glycerol to increase water retention and improve your “pump,” or feeling of muscle fullness after lifting. Pump Mode ditches the amino acids entirely, going instead for betaine nitrate, a relative newcomer to nitric oxide boosting supplements.
As with many of its other products, Evlution is on the cutting edge of supplement development. If you are willing to take a risk, it might be just what you need. People looking for a more established and reliable nitric oxide booster might want to look elsewhere, though.
5. VEINZ Nitric Oxide
The bold, blue capsules of VEINZ suggest an aggressive and innovative supplement, but in actuality its ingredients are practically Spartan.
The primary ingredient is a heavy dose of arginine, supported on the side by a small dose of citrulline and alpha-lipoic acid.
Yohimbe provides a small amount of pre-workout stimulus to increase your energy levels. If you want to go all-in on arginine it’s a good call, but for those looking for a more balanced approach to nitric oxide boosting, it’s not the best.
6. Healthy Body Inc Nitric Oxide Pump
Of the amino acid-only supplements, Nitric Oxide Pump does the best job of delivering a simple, straightforward, and balanced supplement.
It contains L-arginine, L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, and L-citrulline in nearly-equal quantities. The dosage per capsule is frustratingly small, but at least the proportions of each amino acid are balanced out.
7. Cellucor NO3 Chrome
Cellucor’s nitric oxide booster is mostly amino-acid based, but it includes a few curious ingredients you won’t find in most other supplements.
It’s got vitamin C and grape seed extract, which aren’t as clearly connected with higher nitric oxide levels as the other ingredients, but the company claims these are related to higher levels of antioxidants.
A few ingredients are tied up in the “extreme vascularity complex,” which unfortunately obscures their actual dosage. If you need specifics on the dose of citrulline or Nitrosigine you are getting, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.
8. Prime Labs Muscle Xplode
Muscle Xplode, from Prime Labs, tends a little more towards the holistic pre-workout supplement side of the spectrum, though it does include an amino acid blend to boost nitric oxide.
It also has several thermogenics to increase fat oxidation during exercise, like green tea extract and yohimbe bark extract.
If you are looking for these, it’s an okay supplement, but for strictly nitric oxide related purposes, there are better options for you.
9. Parker Sports Nutrition N.O. Nitric Oxide Fuel
The nitric oxide booster from Parker Sports is pretty basic. It’s 100% reliant on the nitric oxide boosting properties of L-arginine, L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, and L-citrulline, but the per-capsule dosage is pretty disappointingly low.
There aren’t any other ingredients to sweeten the deal, and there are no innovative additional supplements that could help boost nitric oxide levels either, so it just can’t compete with the other nitric oxide supplements out there.
10. Vital Advanced Nitric Oxide
While it’s billed as a nitric oxide supplement, Vital Advanced Nitric Oxide is more properly considered a pre-workout supplement. Its actual nitric oxide boosting potential looks mediocre, and it obscures how much of each amino acid it includes in its proprietary blend.
It also includes pre-workout stimulants like yohimbe and synephrine, which might be more than you were bargaining for with a nitric oxide supplement.
The same proprietary blend issue affects these compounds too–you have no idea how much synephrine you are getting, for example.
Nitric oxide benefits and side effects
Although it plays a pivotal role in the regulation of how your blood vessels function, especially during exercise, nitric oxide has only recently been recognized as something that can be modified through supplementation.
This might be because nutritionists didn’t realize how supplements could increase its levels inside your body. Nitric oxide is actually a gas, but it’s produced on the cellular level inside your body to regulate how bloodflow works in your muscles (as well as the rest of your body).
Because blood flow is such a critical component of pretty much any activity humans do, the benefits of nitric oxide are far-reaching.
It can help improve your endurance performance, your weight lifting abilities, and it can even fight erectile dysfunction. These seem like widely dispersed topics, but vascular flow plays a role in all of these, hence the role of nitric oxide.
Nitric oxide first rocketed to popularity in the sports nutrition world because of evidence that it improves endurance performance.
Studies using beet root powder, a very good source of nitric oxide, found substantial increases in endurance thanks to increased levels of nitric oxide.
One such study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2012 (1). This study examined the effect of a dose of beetroot on 5 kilometer running performance.
Eleven subjects participated in a randomized protocol where they consumed either beetroot or a control substance that contained no nitric oxide generating substances, then ran a 5 kilometer treadmill test about an hour later.
The researchers found that the beetroot improved performance by 5%. The difference seemed to be in the second half of the 5k trial, indicating that improved endurance was likely responsible for the improved times.
Beetroot is not the only way to get nitric oxide, however. According to a review article on nitric oxide in sports performance by Raul Bescos and other researchers at the University of Barcelona in Spain, the body produces nitric oxide through two primary pathways: the NOS dependent and NOS independent pathways (2).
The first pathway is modulated by the presence of the amino acid L-arginine, which can be used by the body to generate nitric oxide. Another amino acid that is useful in this pathway is L-citrulline, because the body can convert it into L-arginine, and then use that to generate nitric oxide.
The second pathway is dependent on nitrates, which are what are found in beetroot powder.
So, it follows, to maximize your nitric oxide levels, you’d want a supplement that provides both a source of nitrates, like beetroot powder, and a source of L-arginine and perhaps L-citrulline as well.
When it comes to resistance training, evidence is more circumstantial, but there does seem to be a relationship between nitric oxide levels and the improvement in strength that occurs with training.
One study published in the Sport Science & Medicine in 2007 followed a group of sedentary people who started a strength training program for the first time (3).
As their strength improved, the researchers found that levels of nitric oxide in the blood increased as well. Further, high intensity weight training led to a greater increase than low intensity weight training.
This has led some people to hypothesize that the relationship works in reverse, too–i.e. that increases in nitric oxide levels will lead to an increase in strength. While this has yet to be tested in a large and robust study, it’s an intriguing prospect.
Nitric oxide isn’t just for exercise. Emerging evidence suggest that low levels of nitric oxide play a role in erectile dysfunction too. Doctors first noticed this in patients with type 2 diabetes.
One of the common effects of that disease is erectile dysfunction. In 2004, researchers from several different medical institutions published a paper that showed a specific mechanism by which diabetes interferes with erectile function (4). They identified a cellular pathway mediated by nitric oxide that was inhibited in diabetes.
Other research indicated that supplementing with L-arginine (which boosts nitric oxide production) could potentially help with erectile dysfunction.
One study found that 31% of men with erectile dysfunction who were given an L-arginine supplement reported improvements, compared to only 11% of men in the control group (5).
While there are plenty of other causes of erectile dysfunction, (look into test boosters), this evidence indicates that a nitric oxide supplement could be worth a try.
Supplements that boost nitric oxide seem to be pretty safe, so far.
They are very new, so long-term data isn’t available, but since the best nitric oxide boosters are natural compounds (powder from beets and the ubiquitous amino acid L-arginine), it’s hard to envision how adding these to your diet would have negative effects.
One thing to watch out for is sources of nitrate that do not come from beets.
Nitrates are also added to processed meats as a preservative, and some scientists suspect this is the reason why these processed meats like bacon, sausage, and salami are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, though this is controversial (6).
Because consuming root vegetables like beets is not known to be associated with disease, other researchers suggest that beets are a safe way to consume nitrates for performance (7).
Dosage standards are vague when it comes to how to properly boost your nitric oxide levels.
If you are getting nitrates from beetroot powder, research suggests that you want at least 500 mg of nitrates per serving to get the optimal effect.
When it comes to nitrate generated from L-arginine, studies have tested anywhere from three to eight grams of L-arginine per day, but this is mostly from medical research that’s attempting to generate nitric oxide to help, for example, heart disease patients with circulatory issues.
Three grams per day is a good starting place, but hopefully additional research will clear up what the optimal doses are for endurance training, resistance training, and treating or preventing erectile dysfunction.
The role of supplements in increasing your nitric oxide levels is one of the most exciting frontiers in nutrition research.
Simple sources of nitrate like beetroot and L-arginine could help improve endurance, increase your strength, and fight erectile dysfunction.
For optimal results, you should have a source of nitrates, like beetroot powder, as well as a source of L-arginine and L-citrulline, because these work in parallel through two different mechanisms to generate nitric oxide inside your body.