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A Critical Review on Vasoactive Nutrients for the Management of Endothelial Dysfunction

and Arterial Stiffness in Individuals under Cardiovascular Risk

Nutrients.2023 Jun 2;15(11):2618.


Pathophysiological conditions such as endothelial dysfunction and arterial stiffness, characterized by low nitric oxide bioavailability, deficient endothelium-dependent vasodilation and heart effort, predispose individuals to atherosclerotic lesions and cardiac events. Nitrate (NO3-), L-arginine, L-citrulline and potassium (K+) can mitigate arterial dysfunction and stiffness by intensifying NO bioavailability. Dietary compounds such as L-arginine, L-citrulline, NO3- and K+ exert vasoactive effects as demonstrated in clinical interventions by noninvasive flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) and pulse-wave velocity (PWV) prognostic techniques. Daily L-arginine intakes ranging from 4.5 to 21 g lead to increased FMD and reduced PWV responses. Isolated L-citrulline intake of at least 5.6 g has a better effect compared to watermelon extract, which is only effective on endothelial function when supplemented for longer than 6 weeks and contains at least 6 g of L-citrulline. NO3- supplementation employing beetroot at doses greater than 370 mg promotes hemodynamic effects through the NO3--NO2-/NO pathway, a well-documented effect.

A potassium intake of 1.5 g/day can restore endothelial function and arterial mobility, where decreased vascular tone takes place via ATPase pump/hyperpolarization and natriuresis, leading to muscle relaxation and NO release. These dietary interventions, alone or synergically, can ameliorate endothelial dysfunction and should be considered as adjuvant therapies in cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: FMD and PWV measures; L-arginine; L-citrulline; NO bioavailability; Potassium ions; dietary interventions.


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