Health Risks And Side Effects Of Nitric Oxide Supplements

February 19, 2023

The human body manufactures nitric oxide and uses it to widen and relax blood vessels. While nitric oxide supplements do not contain nitric oxide, they help the body increase its production of this substance. Popular nitric oxide supplements include niacin, arginine, citrulline, maca root, and beet juice extract. Patients often take nitric oxide supplements to enhance their exercise endurance, and the supplements may help lower blood pressure as well. Studies suggest the supplements could help prevent type 2 diabetes, and patients may choose to use them to treat erectile dysfunction too. Individuals considering nitric oxide supplements should talk to their doctor before adding these to their daily routine. The supplements may not be suitable for patients who have certain medical conditions, and they could interact with some medications.

The side effects associated with nitric oxide supplements are discussed in more detail below.


Patients who take nitric oxide supplements may notice heartburn. This side effect is frequently described as a burning pain just behind the breastbone, and it can be worse after meals. Some individuals find their heartburn becomes more severe in the evening, and others report it tends to worsen when they lie down. Heartburn can cause a bitter, acidic taste in the mouth as well. Patients who experience this symptom while taking nitric oxide supplements may want to keep a journal of their symptoms. They should note the date and duration of each episode. If possible, it can be helpful to record meals and mealtimes too. Since frequent heartburn could indicate a more serious medical issue, patients should seek medical advice if this symptom occurs more than twice per week. The patient should inform their doctor about the use of any nitric oxide supplements. It may be necessary to discontinue the use of the supplements or to switch to a different supplement, and the patient might need to take prescription medication to alleviate heartburn.

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Stomach Pain

Stomach pain is a relatively common side effect of nitric oxide supplements, and it is particularly likely to occur with arginine supplements. Patients could notice mild abdominal discomfort, and the discomfort may be felt in any quadrant. Most of the stomach pain users experience with nitric oxide supplements is mild, and it tends to resolve on its own. Larger doses of nitric oxide supplements may increase the likelihood of experiencing stomach pain, and they could also worsen any discomfort that occurs. Patients should see a doctor if they experience dull pain in the abdomen that does not improve in seven days, and a medical evaluation is recommended if significant abdominal pain is present for more than two or three days. The doctor will perform a physical examination of the abdomen to check for masses or areas of pain, and some patients may need to have imaging studies to determine the cause of the pain. Patients should let their doctors know about their use of supplements, over-the-counter medicines, and prescription drugs.

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Diarrhea occurs if a patient experiences more than three loose or watery stools in a twenty-four-hour period. Individuals who take nitric oxide supplements may occasionally experience this side effect, especially if they take large doses or use a combination of several supplements. In addition to watery and loose stools, diarrhea can lead to abdominal cramping, bloating, dehydration, and nausea. Patients who use beetroot as a nitric oxide supplement could notice their diarrhea is pink or red too. Diarrhea usually resolves on its own after two days, and patients might want to use an over-the-counter medicine such as loperamide to ease symptoms. Eating a low-fiber diet is recommended, and the patient must have adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Patients should see a doctor if diarrhea continues for more than two days or if it occurs in conjunction with a fever, dehydration, weight loss, or significant pain. A doctor's appointment should also be made if patients notice their stool contains blood, mucus, or undigested food.

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Headaches are a very common side effect of nitric oxide supplements. Patients who take these supplements could notice they have pain on the sides or front of the head, and neck pain might be present as well. To ease headache pain, it may help to rest in a dark, quiet area and to avoid strong odors. Placing a hot or cold compress on the forehead could feel soothing, and some patients might want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Since headaches can sometimes be a symptom of a more serious medical issue, patients should see a doctor if their headache does not improve within twenty-four hours or if it disrupts sleep or daily activities. To help doctors with a diagnosis, patients may wish to keep a journal of all headaches, and the doctor must know about the doses and specific types of nitric oxide supplements the patient is using. The physician will want to know how long the patient has been taking the supplements and if they had headaches before starting nitric oxide supplementation. Imaging studies may be performed to rule out serious medical issues, and some patients may need to take prescription medication to relieve their headaches.

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Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are relatively uncommon with nitric oxide supplementation, and patients should have this symptom investigated promptly. Heart palpitations could make it feel like the heart is pounding, fluttering, or flip-flopping, and some patients feel as though the heart is skipping beats or beating too fast. While most patients notice heart palpitations in the chest, they can also be felt in the throat and neck, and they could develop at rest or during physical activity. Most heart palpitations are not related to a serious medical condition, and they tend to resolve on their own. However, some palpitations can indicate the presence of an irregular heartbeat, and patients who notice this symptom for the first time should have a physical examination.

To determine the underlying cause of the palpitations, the physician will ask the patient about any medications they take and about any health conditions they may have. After listening to the patient's heartbeat with a stethoscope, the doctor may perform an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram to obtain more information about the patient's heart health. Prescription medicine could be necessary to control symptoms. Patients should let their doctor know if they experienced heart palpitations before starting nitric oxide supplements. If the palpitations began only after starting the supplements, treatment could be as simple as discontinuing the supplements.

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