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Supplementation with Nitric Oxide Precursors for Strength Performance

A Review of the Current Literature

Nutrients 2023 Jan 28;15(3):660.


Nitric-oxide-stimulating dietary supplements are widely available and marketed to strength athletes and weightlifters seeking to increase muscle performance and augment training adaptations. These supplements contain ingredients classified as nitric oxide (NO) precursors (i.e., "NO boosters"). Endogenous NO is generated via a nitric oxide synthase (NOS)-dependent pathway and a NOS-independent pathway that rely on precursors including L-arginine and nitrates, with L-citrulline serving as an effective precursor of L-arginine. Nitric oxide plays a critical role in endothelial function, promoting relaxation of vascular smooth muscle and subsequent dilation which may favorably impact blood flow and augment mechanisms contributing to skeletal muscle performance, hypertrophy, and strength adaptations. The aim of this review is to describe the NO production pathways and summarize the current literature on the effects of supplementation with NO precursors for strength and power performance. The information will allow for an informed decision when considering the use of L-arginine, L-citrulline, and nitrates to improve muscular function by increasing NO bioavailability.

Keywords: L-arginine; L-citrulline; blood flow; citrulline malate; nitrates; nitric oxide booster.


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