Nitric Oxide and Brain Health

Nitric Oxide has been very well studied in the field of brain health.  In this documentation we will incorporate information on Vitamin D as it too is critical.  The benefits of these nutrients have been seen in:

•    Depression and Anxiety
•    Mental Fog
•    Memory
•    Alzheimer’s and Dementia
•    Brain Cancer

Let’s start with depression and anxiety. Thousands of prescriptions per day are written for these issues. Most common are in the SSRI class. This stands for selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Nitric Oxide (NO) has been well established to help with mood disorders. To make sufficient amounts of NO you need nutrition like the amino acid L-arginine, L-citrulline, pomegranate and beet powder.

NO functions as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system.  Nitric oxide effects Serotonin and Dopamine levels.  These are your “feel good” brain chemicals.

In Japan, a study of 70 people, those who were depressed had “significantly lower” levels of NO than those who weren’t.  Also, Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry noted that, “Decreased blood levels of NO might be partially associated with the development of depression”.  A study from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta in Canada found blood levels of NO were “significantly lower” in people with depression compared to those who weren’t depressed.

“There is an impressive amount of evidence suggesting the involvement of NO in learning and memory”, says Behavioural Brain Research.

•    Journal of Neuroscience showed that NO is a must for forming short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term memories.
•    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory found that NO is required for the storage and retrieval of memory.
•    Dementia and Geriatrics Cognitive Disorders stated that arginine may help to reverse the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Besides L-arginine and nutrients that make and sustain NO, vitamin D has shown great promise. Science Daily (Apr. 21, 2008)- McCann & Ames point out that evidence for vitamin D’s involvement in brain function includes the wide distribution of vitamin D receptors throughout the brain. They also discuss vitamin D’s ability to affect proteins in the brain known to be directly involved in learning and memory, motor control, and possibly even maternal and social behavior.

•    Researchers examined the results of almost 12,600 participants from late 2006 to late 2010. Brown and colleagues found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with a significantly decreased risk of current depression.
•    Researchers looked at brain tissue in patients with brain cancer tumors. 78 percent of the patients were found to be deficient in vitamin D.
•    A new animal study from Japan suggests that vitamin D may help clear the brain of amyloid beta, a toxic protein-like compound that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

So, if you find yourself constantly looking for your keys or friends are suggesting you may need an “attitude adjustment” we encourage you to give L-arginine, L-Citrulline, pomegranate, beet powder and Vitamin D a try!

Research on Nitric Oxide and Vitamin D and Brain Heath:

1.    Georg Andrees Bohme, Christelle Bon, Martine Lemaire, Michel Reibaud, Odile Piot, Jean-Marie Stutzmann, Adam Doble, Jean-Charles Blanchard, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 90, pp. 9191-9194, October 1993Neurobiology, Altered synaptic plasticity and memory formation in nitric oxide synthase inhibitor-treated rats (long-term potentiation/brain slices/behavior)
2.    Snyder SH, Bredt DS, Nitric oxide as a neuronal messenger. Trends Pharmocol Sci. 1991 Apr;12(4):125-8.
3.    Vanaja Paul and Perumal Ekambaram, Involvement of nitric oxide in learning & memory processes, Indian J Med Res. 2011 May; 133(5): 471–478.
4.    Dhir A, Kulkarni SK, Nitric oxide and major depression.  Nitric Oxide. 2011 Apr 30;24(3):125-31. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2011.02.002. Epub 2011 Feb 16.
5.    McLeod TM, Lopez-Figueroa AL, Lopez-Figueroa MO.  Nitric oxide, stress, and depression. Psychopharmacol Bull.   2001 Winter;35(1):24-41.
6.    University of Kentucky, New study suggests low vitamin D causes damage to brain, December 2, 2013
7.    Tarkowski E, et al. Intrathecal release of nitric oxide in Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord 2000 Nov- Dec;11(6):322-6