Can Nitric Oxide Supplements Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Can Nitric Oxide Supplements Help Manage Type 2 Diabetes

Can Nitric Oxide Supplements Manage Type 2 Diabetes?

Nitric oxide is important for blood vessel health and is naturally found in the body. Supplements can lower blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity for individuals with diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes often have difficulty producing nitric oxide. While supplements themselves do not contain nitric oxide, they do contain ingredients that the body converts into nitric oxide.

Research suggests that nitric oxide supplements could potentially help manage diabetes, but further studies are needed for confirmation.

The body naturally produces nitric oxide through the breakdown of arginine by enzymes called nitric oxide synthase. This chemical process occurs in almost every cell and tissue, promoting the production of a small-molecule gas that assists with blood vessel flexibility.

Insulin, a hormone, regulates nitric oxide enzyme activity. However, individuals with type 2 diabetes experience insulin resistance, hindering nitric oxide production and impacting blood vessels.

What Does Nitric Oxide Do?

Nitric oxide has various roles in the body and is considered a double-edged sword due to its potential benefits and drawbacks. It regulates numerous cellular and tissue activities.

Relaxation of Blood Vessels and Smooth Muscles

Nitric oxide acts as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels. It primarily works within the lining of blood vessels to enhance muscle and vessel relaxation, contributing to blood vessel tone regulation and flexibility. It also benefits lung muscles.

Regulation of Blood Flow

Nitric oxide influences blood flow and facilitates tissue oxygenation. By relaxing blood vessels, it promotes efficient circulation and delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the body’s tissues.

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Immune System Signaling

The exact manner in which nitric oxide affects the immune system remains unclear. However, immune cells exhibit high levels of nitric oxide activity. Nitric oxide can modulate inflammation, activate cells responsible for defending against infection, and eliminate potentially harmful microbes.

Involvement in Brain Activities

Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in brain function, interacting with brain cells and chemicals to facilitate communication. It influences various activities in the brain and nervous system, such as sleep, pain perception, anxiety, learning, memory, movement, and feeding.

Metabolism Regulation

Your body utilizes nitric oxide in energy production. It enhances mitochondrial efficiency, stimulates glucose uptake for energy, and aids in the breakdown of fatty acids.

Can Nitric Oxide Supplements Help Type 2 Diabetes?

Nitric oxide supplements typically include amino acids like l-arginine or l-citrulline. The body converts arginine into nitric oxide. While research suggests that such supplements may benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes, further studies are required for conclusive evidence.

Potential Blood Pressure Reduction

Type 2 diabetes can impair nitric oxide production, affecting blood vessels and blood pressure. Nitric oxide supplements might help address this issue.

In a small study, patients with high blood pressure were given a lozenge containing vitamin C, citrulline, sodium nitrate, hawthorn berry, and beetroot extract. After 30 minutes, the patients experienced significantly lower blood pressure. These natural supplements may be advantageous as they do not lead to tolerance. Various studies also indicate that supplements can reduce blood pressure in individuals with diabetes.

Possible Improvement in Insulin Sensitivity

Individuals with diabetes display insulin resistance, lowering their ability to respond effectively to the hormone. Given nitric oxide’s interaction with insulin, supplements may offer potential benefits.

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A study revealed that arginine supplements increased nitric oxide production and improved insulin sensitivity in diabetes patients. Subjects treated with arginine demonstrated enhanced insulin response and increased nitric oxide production compared to a group treated solely with a controlled diet. An 18-month study further showed that arginine supplements improved glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and pancreatic cell function among individuals with diabetes.

However, the precise relationship between nitric oxide and insulin is still under debate. While these supplement treatments offer promise, further research is necessary to determine how they impact individuals with diabetes.

Natural Nitric Oxide Production

It remains uncertain whether nitric oxide supplements effectively manage type 2 diabetes. Natural methods, like consuming foods that facilitate nitric oxide conversion (e.g., beets, watermelon, and spinach), may obviate the need for supplements. Unlike supplements, these nutritious foods generally produce no adverse effects such as nausea, bloating, or diarrhea.

Exercise and calorie restriction can also naturally stimulate nitric oxide production. These actions promote weight maintenance, improve insulin sensitivity, and encourage a healthy lifestyle.


Type 2 diabetes is a lifelong condition that often requires medication management. While lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight loss, and diet can sometimes induce remission, continuous treatment and long-term monitoring are usually necessary.

If you have type 2 diabetes and intend to use supplements, consult your doctor beforehand.


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Brain and Neuroscience Advances: "Nitric oxide as a multimodal brain transmitter."

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Cardiology: "Characterization of the Role of Nitric Oxide and Its Clinical Applications."

Department of Defense Dietary Supplement Resource: "Nitric Oxide Supplements."

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Mayo Clinic: "L-arginine."

Medscape: "Therapeutic Role for Nitric Oxide in Respiratory Disease."


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