Most people have never heard of nitric oxide and even less about endothelial cells. Yet this molecule and cellular structure are critical to the health of your cardiovascular system. Both play a direct role in vasoconstriction and vasodilation to help regulate blood pressure. The proper care of your endothelial cells will make a huge impact on your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide which directly effects both cardiovascular and sexual health.
All blood vessels are lined by endothelial cells. At one time they were considered to be simple cells with few functional roles. Current research now shows that the endothelial cells ultimately determine the health of your blood vessels and play a major role in cardiovascular disease.
Endothelial cells act as selective filters to regulate the passage of gases, fluid and various molecules across their membranes. For example, your white blood cells or leucocytes are produced in the bone marrow. They travel through the blood stream where the endothelial cells facilitate their passage into your body’s tissue to allow them to destroy foreign agents or antigens. Endothelial cells also synthesize the vitally important molecule called Factor VIII or von Willibrand’s Factor which is essential for blood clotting. Without this molecule a person could bleed to death from a simple scratch.
Your endothelial cells are also affected by large molecules like cholesterol and/or toxic substances like nicotine. These substances damage the intercellular junctions between the endothelial cells allowing deposits to build up. This causes the smooth and flexible lining of your blood vessels to become rough and hard leading to the disease commonly called arteriosclerosis or atherosclerosis. As this process continues over time, the deposits or plaques become larger which narrows the interior of the blood vessel making it harder for blood to pass through. This increases resistance to blood flow which can cause your blood pressure to increase.
The narrowing of your blood vessels also causes blood turbulence that can lead to the formation of blood clots. These blood clots, if large enough or if they pass through too narrow of an opening, can eventually lodge themselves in a blood vessel causing a blockage. When this happens in the heart we call it a heart attack. When it happens in the brain it is called a stroke.
The health of your endothelial cells also plays a vital role in one other critical factor. In fact, the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to the researchers who discovered how the endothelial cells produced nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule for the cardiovascular system.
The Benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO)!
Who would have ever thought that an environmental pollutant and an extremely reactive and potentially dangerous free radical could also be the most important signaling molecule in your body! Since its discovery much has been learned about nitric oxide. For example:
• NO regulates the muscle tone of blood vessels to have a major impact on controlling blood pressure.
• NO stops blood platelet cells from grouping together in a clot to help prevent blockages in the blood vessels.
• NO controls the action of almost every orifice from swallowing to defecation.
• NO helps the immune system fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections as well as tumors.
• NO causes penile erections by dilating blood vessels.
• NO transmits messages between nerve cells.
• NO seems to be associated with the process of learning, memory, sleeping, feeling pain, and maybe even depression.
• NO has been shown to be a mediator in inflammation and rheumatism.
This molecule is literally involved in all cells and in 1992, the cover of Science declared nitric oxide to be its “Molecule of the Year!”
The creation of nitric oxide is dependent upon the health of your endothelial cells, an adequate supply of the essential amino acid L-arginine, and a family of enzymes called nitric oxide synthesis or NOS. It is the NOS enzymes in the endothelial cells that create nitric oxide from L-arginine. However, when the endothelial cells are damaged by high blood pressure, high sugar levels, cholesterol and other lipid deposits, and smoking this decreases nitric oxide production leading to a whole host of health and wellness issues. The one health issue that gets most of the attention today is erectile dysfunction or ED.
L-arginine – It’s Benefits and It’s Dark Side!
The essential amino acid L-arginine is found in foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, and other proteins. When isolated and properly brought into the body, L-arginine has the ability to produce some remarkable results. Many scientists refer to L-arginine as The Miracle Molecule! Columbia University refers to L-arginine as the “Magic Bullet” for the cardiovascular system. Research suggests the following benefits:
• Stimulates growth hormone for anti aging benefits.
• Counters heart disease and aids in blood pressure regulation.
• Improves insulin sensitivity to help normalize blood sugar.
• Bolsters the immune system, boosts energy, and increases lean muscle.
• Precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide.
• Promotes reproductive health.
• Natural alternative for Viagra-like products.
Because of this huge potential to aid people, especially in producing nitric oxide, L-arginine supplements have populated the shelves of many health food stores, pharmacies, and websites. However, before you go out and buy an L-arginine supplement you need to know its dark side. In its pure form L-arginine tastes terrible and can have some serious side effects like:
• Increasing free radical brain damage.
• Activation of the herpes simplex virus.
• Reduced sperm motility.
It is why L-arginine is also referred to as “the double-edged sword.”
To be effective, an L-arginine supplement must utilize a low-glycemic pathway. Research has shown that high-glycemic ingredients will interfere with L-arginine absorption. There are also other ingredients that will directly block L-arginine’s health benefits. These include lysine, ornithine, proteins, amino acids, high glycemic sugars, synthetic sweeteners and flavor systems.
The amount of L-arginine consumed is also important. A daily does of 5 grams of elemental, pharmaceutical-grade L-arginine will provide cardiovascular benefits and good nitric oxide production. If you are going to use an L-arginine supplement, then ask the following questions:
• Does it use ingredients that will interfere with its absorption?
• Who is the L-arginine researcher behind the product?
• What is their level of expertise in product design?
• Are there any documented studies to show the effectiveness of the product you are considering?
For those searching for a proven and effective L-arginine product that will benefit the cardiovascular system and improve nitric oxide production, then I would highly recommend ProArgi9 Plus from Synergy WorldWide.
It is amazing to me that a simple lining of cells on the interior walls of your blood vessels could have such a profound affect on your cardiovascular health and overall wellness. Yet that is exactly the case with your endothelial cells. Their health is critical to your health and your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide.
High blood pressure, high sugar levels, cholesterol and other lipid deposits, and smoking will damage your endothelial cells. Properly bringing in a good source of L-arginine, combined with good eating and lifestyle habits like those found in the Mediterranean diet, can help reverse this damage to the endothelial cells so that they can stay healthy to produce a good supply of nitric oxide. Your heart and other key organs will thank you.
Until next time, may we both age youthfully!
Dan Hammer has a background in biology, chemistry and exercise physiology. He used to run one of the largest health club operations in the Chicagoland area and has been helping people with their wellness issues for more than 25 years. His website Aging-No-More.com provides current information on how to slow down the aging process.