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Ranking the best nitric oxide supplements of 2021

Written by John Davis

Last updated: December 15, 2020

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 while boosting sexual performance.

If this is what you are looking for, check out our rankings of the best nitric oxide boosting supplements on the market.

Rankings

1. Zhou Nutrition NO Pro

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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 one of 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. Jacked Factory N.O. XT

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Jacked Factory 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.

3. Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode

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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.

4. Cellucor NO3 Chrome

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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.

5. SilverOnyx Nitric Oxide

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SilverOnyx Nitric Oxide is designed for athletes: it uses a blend of two forms each of arginine and citrulline to boost nitric oxide performance, while providing beta alanine for more anaerobic power during intense gym sessions. The dosage isn’t quite up to some of its competitors, which lands it further down in the rankings. 

6. PrimeLife Research Prime Flow

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PrimeLife is a capsule-based nitric oxide supplement that’s more targeted at overall wellness and heart health, rather than athletic performance.

It uses boot root powder, potassium, watermelon seed powder, and hawthorn leaf extract in combination to improve circulation and heart health. While it’s a more niche application, it’s nevertheless useful for some people.

7. Snap Nitric Oxide Booster

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Snap Nitric Oxide Booster is very popular, and includes several high-quality ingredients that are known to boost nitric oxide levels. So why is it so low in our rankings?

All of these ingredients are wrapped up in a proprietary blend that makes it hard to compare the contents with other supplements and hard to know if you’re getting what you need to boost nitric oxide levels optimally.

8. Jacked Factory Nitro Surge

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Nitro Surge exists solidly in the pre-workout camp: it has a high dose of nitric oxide-boosting agents, such as L-citrulline, but also includes other workout enhancers like caffeine, betaine, and beta-alanine.

Because it’s designed for just one purpose (workout performance), it isn’t nearly as versatile as many of the other nitric oxide supplements out there.

9. xTreme Muscle Pro Nitric Oxide Booster

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xTreme Muscle Pro delivers four compounds that work together to boost nitric oxide levels.

The L-arginine AKG, L-citrulline, Agmatine Sulfate and BioPerine are delivered in a simple capsule.

With the low doses of other ingredients key in NO supplements, this product ranked at the bottom of the list.

10. Force Factor Volcano Nitric Oxide Booster

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Force Factor’s Volcano Nitric Oxide Booster r is a powerful nitric oxide supplement based around L-Citrulline, a natural nitric oxide booster. It improves blood flow, promotes strength, builds endurance, and increases recovery time.

Along with L-Citrulline, this supplement uses vitamin B6 in conjunction with their proprietary Nitric Oxide Muscle Matrix blend.

Good product but the blend does not give you the same pure nitric oxide as some others on this list.

Category winners

Best nitric oxide supplement overall: Zhou Nutrition NO Pro

Zhou nutrition makes a great multi-ingredient nitric oxide booster based on multiple forms of L-arginine and other amino acids. It’s a fantastic all-natural and all-purpose supplement for raising your nitric oxide levels. 

Best nitric oxide supplement for endurance: Zhou Nutrition NO Pro

For endurance athletes, beet root extract is a critical component of improving aerobic performance via higher nitric oxide levels. Zhou Nutrition provides a high dose of beet extract alongside other nitric oxide boosters, making it the perfect choice for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes. 

Best nitric oxide supplement for sexual performance: Jacked Factory N.O XT

Jacked Factory provides L-arginine alongside L-citrulline and L-glutathione, to boost blood flow and energy levels for optimal sexual performance and libido levels. This three-pronged approach is the best option if you’re looking for better performance in the bedroom.

Best nitric oxide supplement for strength training: Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode

If raw strength is your focus, go for Evlution. Its arginine-focused formulation is a great solution for enhancing blood flow to muscles during intense lifting sessions, as well as for boosting muscle synthesis after a gym session.

Best nitric oxide for heart health: Zhou Nutrition NO Pro

If you want a good shot at better control of your blood lipids, blood pressure, and metabolism, Zhou Nutrition offers a broad-spectrum approach to boosting nitric oxide with beet root, L-arginine, and L-citrulline, among others, to increase your body’s endogenous production of nitric oxide.

Best nitric oxide for bodybuilding: Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode

To build muscle mass and muscle definition at the same time, Evlution Nutrition Pump Mode includes nitric oxide boosters and glycerol to enhance your post-workout pump. For strength and aesthetics, Evlution is the way to go.

Who should buy a nitric oxide supplement?

Nitric oxide supplements serve two primary functions. The first is as an exercise performance enhancer—both endurance performance and resistance exercise seem to be related to nitric oxide levels in your muscles. Nitric oxide helps increase blood flow, which leads to an increase in oxygen efficiency.

While the evidence supporting endurance exercise is stronger than the evidence supporting resistance exercise, there are still physiological reasons to believe that nitric oxide will improve your weight lifting performance as well. Because of these, you’ll find nitric oxide-boosting ingredients in many pre-workout supplements.

The other group of people who can benefit from a nitric oxide supplement is men who have erectile dysfunction or other sexual wellness problems. Though these issues may seem far afield of the task of improving cycling or lifting performance, the biological mechanisms are actually intimately connected.

Nitric oxide’s ability to increase blood flow means that it plays a critical role in male sexual function. Clinical evidence suggests that up to one in three men with erectile dysfunction could benefit from a nitric oxide supplement, and it’s no surprise that nitrate-boosting ingredients like citrulline and L-arginine show up all the time in male enhancement pills and testosterone boosters.

How we ranked

Nitric oxide supplements are a pretty broad category, and many individual ingredients, like citrulline or arginine, can plausibly function on their own to boost nitric oxide levels.

Moreover, supplements geared towards overall workout performance or male sexual wellness include nitric oxide boosters as well. However, for our rankings, we required the supplements that made our list to be explicitly focused on boosting nitric oxide levels, and had to use multiple different supplemental ingredients to accomplish their goal.

Next up, we looked at which ingredients were included. If a nitric oxide supplement didn’t include at least two different supplemental compounds with scientific evidence supporting a nitrate-boosting effect, like beet root powder, citrulline, L-arginine, we dropped it from our rankings.

We also checked to see if the ingredients were delivered at an appropriate dosage, in keeping with what’s been used in the scientific literature. Many other supplements didn’t make the cut here, either because they didn’t deliver an adequate dosage, or because their ingredient dosages were obscured in a proprietary blend, making it nearly impossible to assess how effective the supplement would be.

In keeping with our overall philosophy on supplement design, we rewarded products that used a clean, simplistic ingredient design, without binders, fillers, or coloring agents. Cellulose capsules also got a few extra points.

Finally, we kept an eye out for products which were on the cutting edge when it comes to new and innovative ways to increase nitric oxide levels.

Jacked Factory N.O XT, with several traditional sources of nitric oxide boosters plus the Nitrosigine, is one example of a supplement that scored highly because of its innovation. Zhou Nutrition NO Pro also demonstrated its nutritional prowess by including two separate forms of L-arginine, plus beet root powder for excellent nitrate boosting properties, which landed supplements like these at the top of our rankings.

Benefits

Supplementation for nitric oxide is a new research area. 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.

Nitric oxide can help with a wide variety of health conditions by altering bloodflow. 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.

Nitric oxide may also help with strength performance. 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—it can help with diabetes and erectile dysfunction too. 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.

Nitric oxide supplements may help decrease blood pressure. The vasodilating effects of nitric oxide have long been known in the field of cardiology, and several pharmaceutical drugs target nitric oxide related cellular pathways to treat heart disease.

Researchers have wondered whether a supplement that boosts nitric oxide could be beneficial for heart health; one recent study set out to answer this question. The study was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2016 by a team of researchers at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom (6).

The study tested the effects of a three gram per day citrulline supplement on blood pressure and heart activity. The researchers were able to show that the citrulline supplement (as well as a nitrate supplement which directly boost nitric oxide levels) was able to reduce blood pressure and improve the oxygenation of peripheral tissue in the body.

Other research in animals also supports a relationship between nitric oxide supplements and lowered blood pressure. A study in mice that was published in the journal Translational Research in 2014 suggested a biological pathway for the nitric oxide-blood pressure pathway that was more complex than previously thought (7).

By supplementing the diets of mice with citrulline or nitrate, the researchers were able to show that the supplementation routine increased nitric oxide in the kidneys, which in turn was able to lower blood pressure. While the research on nitric oxide and high blood pressure is fairly new, it’s very promising and suggests that the applications of nitric oxide boosters may be even broader than we originally thought.

Side effects

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 (8).

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 (9).

Recommended dosage

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.

FAQ

Q: How does nitric oxide create vasodilation?

A: Nitric oxide is generated inside the body and acts on smooth muscle cells, which are the muscles that control the constriction or relaxation of your blood vessels.

When these smooth muscles relax because of the presence of increased levels of nitric oxide, your blood vessels are less constricted. This leads to decreased blood pressure, because the walls of the blood vessels are not so rigid, and this effect is accompanied by better tissue oxygenation because of the increased ability of red blood cells to deliver oxygen to your tissues.

Both the physical and sexual performance enhancing effects of nitric oxide can be attributed to its ability to trigger smooth muscle relaxation and therefore vasodilation.

Q: Do nitric oxide supplements work?

A: Yes, nitric oxide supplement ingredients like citrulline, arginine, and beet root powder have all been demonstrated in clinical research as effective ways to improve athletic performance, increase sexual function, and perhaps even decrease risk factors for heart disease. It’s important to note, though, that nitric oxide is far from the only factor that plays into any of these outcomes.

Caffeine pills, for example, can increase endurance performance as well, through separate pathways that have nothing to do with nitric oxide, and while one in three men with erectile dysfunction can benefit from supplements to increase nitric oxide levels, two in three don’t, suggesting that other factors are at play as well.

Q: Are nitric oxide supplements dangerous?

A: Most evidence suggests that the traditional supplements for increasing nitric oxide levels, like citrulline and L-arginine, are very safe.

Chronic, high consumption of processed meats that are high in nitrate levels, like bacon, sausage, and ham, is associated with an increased risk for colorectal cancer, but whether nitrate is the causal agent in this relationship is not clear.

Other epidemiological research has found that increased consumption of root vegetables like beets, which are a natural source of dietary nitrates, do not increase the risk of colorectal cancer, so any evidence linking nitrates to health risks is tenuous at best. Moreover, most nitric oxide supplements don’t rely directly on nitrates as their primary nitric oxide boosters, so for our top ranked supplements, this is a moot point anyways.

Q: Do nitric oxide supplements work for ED (erectile dysfunction)?

A: Not every case of erectile dysfunction can be treated with nitric oxide, but research does suggest that up to one in three men with erectile problems might benefit from a supplement that boosts nitric oxide.

Because healthy erectile function depends critically on your body’s ability to modulate blood flow, nitric oxide function is essential for men’s sexual health. As such, increasing nitric oxide levels can enable proper sexual function. However, erectile dysfunction can have many different causes, not all of which are linked to nitric oxide.

So, if a nitric oxide supplement isn’t working for you, definitely talk to your doctor about other options—a completely separate biological pathway may well be contributing to your problem with ED.

Q: Can you get nitric oxide from food?

A: Compounds that boost nitric oxide aren’t very common in foods, but a few foods do have significant levels of nitric oxide boosters.

Chief among these are beets, which contain high concentrations of nitrates. Beets themselves are used as a source for beetroot juice or beet root powder, which have a substantial body of scientific research supporting their use as a way to boost nitric oxide.

Most other dietary sources of nitric oxide boosters are pretty far back, but some emerging research suggests that garlic may be able to increase your body’s nitric oxide production as well, so keep an eye out for more research on that topic in the near future.

Q: What is nitric oxide?

A: Technically speaking, nitric oxide is just a super-simple molecule that’s made out of a nitrogen atom bonded to an oxygen atom. Its role inside your body, though, is far more interesting. Nitric oxide functions as a key part of critical cellular signaling pathways that

Q: What does nitric oxide do?

A: Nitric oxide plays a key role in several biological functions in your body, but chief among these is the relaxation of the smooth muscles that control the constriction of your blood vessels.

When these muscles relax, your blood vessels dilate, your blood pressure drops, and oxygen supply to your muscles increases.

These effects explain why nitric oxide is such a powerful pre-workout performance enhancer: with more blood flow and better tissue oxygenation, generating aerobic energy is much easier for your muscles.

Q: How can you increase nitric oxide without L-arginine?

A: While L-arginine is one very common and effective way to boost nitric oxide levels, it’s far from the only way.

Citrulline is another amino acid that is closely linked to nitric oxide production inside your body, and supplementation with citrulline or a citrulline-based nitric oxide supplement has been shown to be effective at increasing your body’s nitric oxide levels. Another potential solution is powdered or juiced beets.

Beets are rich in nitrates, and several studies have found that beet root powder or beet juice can increase nitric oxide levels substantially, leading to improvements in athletic performance, better sexual function, and improve risk factors for heart disease.

Some nitric oxide supplements rely on less-common solutions, like pine bark extract, as potential ways to boost nitric oxide without L-arginine, but the mainstay solutions are citrulline and beet extract or beet juice.

Q: What is nitric oxide used for?

A: Nitric oxide has three primary applications as a supplement. The first is boosting athletic performance. By increasing blood flow to your muscles, the oxygenation of your muscular tissue increases when your nitric oxide levels are higher.

As a result, endurance and strength performance increases, though the increases in endurance performance are more reliable than the increase in strength performance.

The increases in blood flow that are connected to increased nitric oxide can also be linked to better sexual function for men, which is the second primary use for nitric oxide.

Up to one in three men with erectile dysfunction might be able to benefit from a nitric oxide boosting supplement, which suggests that low production of nitric oxide plays a major role in many forms of sexual dysfunction in men.

Finally, the vasodilating properties of nitric oxide might be a useful way to reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure. While the scientific evidence for this last use of nitric oxide is still emerging, a few studies have shown substantial promise.

Q: How do you increase nitric oxide levels in your body?

A: Nitric oxide levels can be increased in your body in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest ways it by exercise. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2017 was able to demonstrate that increased amounts of exercise are associated with higher levels of nitric oxide, which helps reduce blood pressure and even increases levels of antioxidant enzymes in the blood (10).

Beyond basic lifestyle changes, supplementation can be another very effective way to increase nitric oxide levels in the body.

Supplements like citrulline, L-arginine, and beet root powder or beet juice are all effective ways to increase levels of nitric oxide in your body, and our top-ranked nitric oxide supplements use combinations of these and other supplemental sources of nitric oxide precursors to boost nitric oxide inside your body.

Related articles

Recap

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.

For BodyNutrition‘s #1 nitric oxide recommendation, click here.

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John Davis

John Davis is a Minneapolis-based health and fitness writer with over 7 years of experience researching the science of high performance athletics, long-term health, nutrition, and wellness. As a trained scientist, he digs deep into the medical, nutritional, and epidemiological literature to uncover the keys to healthy living through better nutrition.