A diet rich in vegetables has many beneficial properties for our body. It is well known that when we eat vegetables, we provide the body with many valuable nutrients, including fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The mentioned ingredients perform several functions in our bodies. They are building materials, they participate in enzymatic processes, regulate peristalsis and can support sports results. The responsible for this phenomenon are vegetables, which in their composition contain nitrates. We find them in beets, leafy vegetables – lettuce, spinach, rocket, and celery. The effects of nitrates are based on increasing the bioavailability of nitric oxide (NO), low-mass molecules and high physiological significance.
The biological effect of nitric oxide is based on vasodilatation, inhibition of adhesion (adherence) and aggregation (clumping) of platelets. In addition, it protects the vascular wall by reducing the impact of free radicals and prevents the oxidation of lipids. In addition, it participates in the regulation of the central nervous system, where it participates in biological processes that stimulate neurotransmitters and cyclic GMP. It takes part in iron metabolism and determines the cytotoxic activity of macrophages and their ability to destroy parasites.
In the context of athletes, it can modulate skeletal muscle function through regulation of blood flow, muscle contraction, glucose homeostasis, calcium, and mitochondrial respiration. As a result, it reduces the use of oxygen, improves efficiency, increases the tolerance of effort and delays the emergence of fatigue.
The mechanism of action
Until recently, it was thought that the only way to form nitric oxide (NO) is the conversion of arginine in the process of oxidation using NOS enzymes. Currently, it is known that an effective way to increase the production of nitric oxide is to extend the diet to products rich in nitrates (NO3). NO3 taken with anaerobic bacteria in the mouth they are converted to nitrites (NO2). Then, some of them in the acidic environment of the stomach is converted into nitric oxide (NO) and redirected to the general circulation. The remaining part travels to the muscles, wherein the environment of lower pH is reduced from NO2 to NO. In this way, nitrites maintain the bioavailability of nitric oxide in hypoxia and acidification (the situation that occurs during exercise).
What amount is effective?
Supplementation with a dose of 5-7 mmol (~ 0.1 mmol/kg body weight or 6.4-12,8 mg/kg) contributes to the increase in NO2 in the plasma. Such an amount may cause a decrease in resting pressure and a decrease in oxygen uptake. As a result, efficiency increases and improves effort tolerance. The dose in terms of weight is the whole
body weight 70 kg -> 440-870 mg,
body weight 90 kg -> 580-1.160 mg,
body weight 110 kg -> 730-1.450 mg.
To provide 5-7 mmoles of nitrates, 0.5 liters of beet juice should be used. Nitrates can also be found in other foods such as rukola (4,500 mg / kg), lamb’s lettuce (2,500 mg / kg), spinach (2,100 mg / kg), dill (3,000 mg / kg), butter lettuce (1,900 mg / kg), Chinese cabbage (1,400 mg / kg), botwina (1,600 mg / kg), beetroot (1,500 mg / kg). Improvement in efficiency can be noticed after 2-6 days of nitrate intake (> 15).
How long do nitrates work?
Plasma nitrite plasma appears after 2-3 hours of receiving (5-6 mmol). It lasts up to 6-8 hours and then returns to the initial level after 24 hours. Regular supplementation is required to maintain a high NO2 level.
The ergogenic effect is observed during the activity lasting from 5 to 30 minutes (speed and strength sports). The beneficial effects of nitrate supplementation in extension training have not yet been confirmed. Nevertheless, in the literature, we can find research that confirms the improvement of performance in high-intensity intermittent sports (football).
Do not brush your teeth before accepting nitrates. The anaerobic bacteria found in the oral cavity are needed to decompose the compound.