It’s a simple little amino acid, but it does a big job in keeping your blood freely moving throughout your body by keeping your blood vessels dilated and flexible. Yet hardly anyone knows about this amazing discovery. Do you?
Since 1901, a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded every year (with few exceptions) to brilliant men and women around the world. Many recipients of this prestigious honor for outstanding achievement spent decades conducting complex laboratory and clinical research. Over the years, Nobel Prizes for medical achievements have been awarded for extraordinary discoveries from…
Insulin (1923) to …
Vitamin K identification (1943) to…
Penicillin (1945) to…
Heart catherization (1956) to…
Magnetic Resonance Imagery (MRI) technology (2003)…
…Just to name a very few…
One of most significant, yet little understood discoveries ever awarded by the Nobel Assembly (Swedish awarding body), occurred in 1998. The 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine recognized a 3-man research team for their identification of “nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.” Doesn’t sound real significant… but I assure you it was.
To put into perspective the importance of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine, we need to first take a closer look…
At the Heart of YOUR Matter
L-arginine supports endothelial function to a healthy cardiovascular system. “For optimal health, the vital components of your cardiovascular system need to work together efficiently… your: heart, blood, arteries, veins, and capillaries.” By far, one of the most important systems in your entire body is your cardiovascular system. Every year, millions of people around the world experience less-than-optimal cardiovascular health… and this is by no means restricted just to the male population. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), many people across all age groups experience less-than-optimal cardiovascular health. It pretty much goes without saying how important it is to keep your entire cardiovascular system working as efficiently as possible.
You probably know from your academic days studying biology, blood flow is key to your cardiovascular system… it’s the ‘nutritious oil’ that feeds all your vital organs and keeps everything running smoothly.
What happens if your blood flows less-than-optimally?
Well, it may keep your heart and other organs from functioning at their best. But what helps keep blood flowing optimally… what keeps your blood vessels relaxed and elastic to best support your system? Some of the answers to this directly correlate to the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine… and to an essential amino acid involved in multiple areas of human physiology and metabolism.
Here’s How an Air Pollutant Gas Helps Your Blood Vessels Relax
The 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine recipients discovered a remarkable way your blood vessels do everything possible to stay dilated (open) for optimal blood flow. But no one really knew how extensive a role nitrogen played prior to the discoveries leading to the 1998 Nobel Prize.
L-arginine may help support endothelial vascular function
The 1998 Nobel Prize winners discovered how endothelial cells produce nitric oxide to help blood vessels stay relaxed and open for blood flow. What Furchgott, Murid, and Ignarro researched and discovered was how…
Vasodilating (vessel widening) compounds release a gas to help relax muscle cells in your veins.
Endothelial cells lining your blood vessels produce this gas to help support healthy blood flow.
Nitric oxide is the gas released as a cellular signaling molecule to help promote healthy blood vessel flexibility and dilation.
What further made this discovery particularly surprising is nitric oxide is also a common air pollutant formed when nitrogen burns – like in automobile exhaust fumes.
The use of a gas, in this case nitric oxide for signaling between cells in your body, is an entirely new concept with far-reaching potential scientific and health benefits now and in the future.
Enhances your blood flow when produced by blood vessel cells.
Helps support healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range.
Is used as a signal molecule in your brain and immune system.
Coming up, I’ll get into more on what happens to this vital nitric oxide signaling process as you age… and the essential amino acid needed to produce it that you could be falling short in.
But first, let’s take a short trip back in time to learn how Alfred Nobel may have played an unknown role in this amazing discovery.
Nobel Prize Founder and Nitric Oxide
In addition to creating the Nobel Prizes, Alfred Nobel also invented dynamite – an explosive produced by a nitrogen-based compound and diatomaceous earth. At one point in Nobel’s life, his doctor ironically suggested a compound that signals nitric oxide release in order to support his heart health. Nobel refused to take it.
Back in the late 1800s, there must have been an inkling of the value of products that trigger the release of nitric oxide gas.
But it would take close to 100 years until it was fully identified how such products act by releasing nitric oxide gas as a signal molecule… little did Alfred Nobel know at the time of his doctor’s recommendation.
What Happens to Your Blood Vessels as You Age?
Nitric oxide promotes optimal blood flow and cardiovascular health. As your efficiency to produce nitric oxide slows down with normal aging, your body could use some help to support optimal blood flow. At this point, you should start to see the importance of the nitric oxide discovery. But, what happens to nitric oxide production as you get older? Quite simply, just like other bodily functions, nitric oxide signaling efficiency declines as a normal part of aging. Remember, your endothelial cells produce nitric oxide to help your vessels stay relaxed and open for blood flow. As your efficiency to produce nitric oxide slows down, your body could use some help to support optimal blood flow. Knowing how nitric oxide works and its effects on your blood vessel efficiency is critically important information for your health and science. And remember how I mentioned earlier how millions of people around the world could likely benefit from taking a supplement to support cardiovascular health? Certainly, the nitric oxide discovery could potentially play a significant role in helping provide this support.
How Nitric Oxide Is Efficiently Produced by Your Blood Vessels
Clinical research gives us a clue as to what’s needed to efficiently produce nitric oxide in your vessels. A semi-essential amino acid called L-arginine appears to be at the heart of the matter.
L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide. It is needed by the lining in your vessels (endothelium) to create nitric oxide. It is the only known nutritional substrate in your vessel lining available to endothelial cells for nitric oxide production.
Here are just a few examples of the research conducted to evaluate L-arginine’s potential:
2005: Rainer H. Boger, MD, and Eval S. Ron, PhD
Purpose: Evaluated endothelial function and supportive affects of L-arginine
Conclusions/Results: Sustained-release L-arginine promotes improvement and helps support endothelial vascular function.
2000: Alfonso Siani et al
Purpose: Evaluated blood pressure and metabolic changes during L-arginine supplementation in humans
Conclusions/Results: Found indication of a moderate increase in L-arginine could promote healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range in healthy people.
Journal of Nutrition American Society for Nutritional Sciences (2004) Heather L. Gornik and Mark A. Creager
Purpose: Evaluated and reviewed L-arginine applications in various research and clinical trials
Conclusions/Results: In many animal and human models, L-arginine improves endothelial function and promotes a healthy cardiovascular system.
The take-away from the research is L-arginine is a key nutrient in promoting efficient blood flow and supporting your healthy cardiovascular system. Plus, recent research suggests that L-arginine can potentially support your immune system by promoting a healthy immune response.
But what exactly is L-arginine and how do you ensure your body produces the optimal amounts?
How to Avoid L-arginine Deficiencies
As I mentioned above, L-arginine is an amino acid functioning as a building block of proteins. Your body produces L-arginine and it plays a significant role in multiple areas of your physiology and metabolism because it:
Significantly affects your cardiovascular system… in particular, your blood vessel vitality.
Plays a critical role in maintaining the natural, healthy functions of your vascular endothelium (vessel lining).
Promotes blood vessel relaxation and flexibility from the nitric oxide created by your vascular endothelium.
Without enough L-arginine, your endothelial cells may not create enough nitric oxide to promote optimal blood flow and cardiovascular health. And as far as your immune system, not having enough L-arginine could desensitize important white cell components called neutrophils, vital in a healthy immune system response.
What could cause L-arginine deficiencies in your system?
Might not consume and digest enough protein.
Could require more L-arginine in your system due to inherited genetics.
May be prone to lower levels of antioxidants and excessive free radicals.
Making sure you get enough protein in your system and eating the right natural foods to increase antioxidant nutrients can help. But like most everything else, as a normal part of aging, your bodily functions just seem to slow down and become less efficient. Since L-arginine is available as a supplement today, the answer seems quite simple on how to enhance your body supply… but unfortunately it is not.
Why Controlling Absorption Rate Is Key
Just like other supplemental nutrients in the marketplace today, L-arginine formulas vary widely. And one of the biggest challenges with L-arginine is its absorption rate. Your body very rapidly absorbs and metabolizes L-arginine. This means you would likely have to take supplements frequently during the day in order to maintain increased levels of L-arginine in your body.
You can rest assured this is not an acceptable solution for me… and likely is not for you as well.
Take This Message to Heart Today
Hopefully by now, you have a better understanding of the importance of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine. The discovery of how nitric oxide gas transmits signals within your cardiovascular system was truly remarkable. And with research identifying how vital L-arginine can be in creating nitric oxide, it’s reassuring to know there’s a potential way for you to enhasunce nitric oxide production. Keep in mind that as you age, your vascular system’s ability to produce L-arginine for effective nitric oxide production naturally declines.
Any way to efficiently enhance and maintain your healthy blood flow only helps promote the overall health of your cardiovascular system and other bodily functions as well.