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Overconsuming This Popular Bodybuilding Supplement Could Be Potentially Fatal

I read an interesting report over the weekend regarding the potential downside of nitric oxide supplements used by bodybuilders and those looking to get a better pump from their weight training workouts.

The emergence of nitric oxide supplements has been all the rage over the past few years and popularity has surged since users can notice an immediate effect.

Now this isn’t to say everyone needs to stop using nitric oxide supplements completely, but rather a warning against long-term over-consumption.

Just like with anything else, too much of something is seldom a good thing. In this case, it could be a very bad thing as there’s a connection to a blood disorder that could lead to death.

Middle age and older men particularly should be cautious of over use due to a common ingredient, sodium nitrate.

More after the jump…

Sodium nitrate, yes the same thing found in hot dogs and processed meats that we all know is garbage for building muscle, is actually a common ingredient in N.O. supplements. The reason?

Sodium nitrate is a precursor for the production of nitric oxide. In case you don’t know, nitric oxide is a vasodilator (increases the size of blood vessels) thereby helping the user to experience a better “pump” while working out.

It’s also promoted as an aid in helping to train harder by offsetting fatigue and speeding up recovery time. In short it helps you to feel stronger and provides a sense of fullness in your muscles.

Does it work? Yes, nitric oxide supplements can most certainly provide a better pump and there will be a noticeable difference in your weight training workouts. However, the research shows several discrepancies that are worth noting.

See the following research studies:

The effect of nitric oxide related supplements on human performance

Potentially fatal new trend in performance enhancement: a cautionary note on nitrate

Here’s where I’m at regarding the use of nitric oxide supplements…

For weight lifters and bodybuilders there are some potential benefits that can be seen with moderate use and smart cycling. You just don’t want to be taking huge amounts over long periods of time which you’ll see why in minute.

For runners and those doing mostly endurance based exercise there’s no real benefit and the research tends to confirm this.

The main benefit of nitric oxide supplements is the enhanced oxygen and nutrient delivery to active muscles, thus improving tolerance to intense training and aiding in recovery.

Key word here being “intense training,” as it’s not magic in a bottle and won’t do much to produce better results without hard work under the iron.

Never-the-less, there’s good call to cycle this supplement just like you would creatine, etc, if you so choose to use them.

The sodium nitrate connection to a potentially fatal condition…

The following is paraphrasing from a story I picked up in the September 2012 edition of “Bottom Line Health” publication.

It was written by Dr. Richard O’Brien, an attending emergency physician at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa. Dr. O’Brien recounts a story of a middle age man in his late 50′s who was rushed to the emergency room after turning blue and becoming profoundly weak during a workout.

When EMT’s arrived on the scene and rushed him to the hospital they began running a series of tests. His vital signs, heart rhythm, and oxygen saturation were all normal and the lungs clear. When paramedics performed a finger prick test to measure blood glucose, they discovered his blood was the color of chocolate syrup!

That was enough to make the diagnosis of “methemoglobinemia,” a relatively rare condition in which the blood cannot effectively release oxygen into body tissue. Left untreated it could have triggered a heart attack, stroke, or seizure within a matter of days or even hours.

So what caused this condition?

As it turned out the guy was taking large amounts of a muscle building supplement that contained high levels of sodium nitrate. When high levels of sodium nitrate are introduced in the body over prolonged periods of time, the sodium nitrate oxidizes the hemoglobin in red blood cells, making it incapable of delivering oxygen to the tissues.

The patient was treated with an intravenous medication to reverse the oxidation in his red blood cells, and in less than an hour his skin color returned to normal. The good news is he made a full recovery and fortunately he got treatment when he did.

He later admitted to never telling his doctor about the supplement he was taking. Obviously, you want to always consult with your physician and be upfront and honest about the dosages you’re taking.

Bottom line…

This is a valuable lesson for everyone taking nitric oxide supplements, young and old. Granted, this was likely the result of taking large dosages over an extended period of time. How much he took, and for how long is uncertain though.

My advice is this, if you’re going to take nitric oxide supplements or any bodybuilding supplement with sodium nitrate, make sure to stay within the recommended guidelines and always consult with your physician (there could be complications with some medications).

Even then, I’d recommend cycling the supplement for 3-4 weeks on and 3-4 off for example. This is always a good idea to avoid building up excesses in the body and weakening receptor sites.

As it is with most muscle building “aids,” too much of something almost always comes with a downside. There’s simply no replacement for a supportive nutrition diet, adequate rest, and good old fashioned hard work in the gym.

No supplement can ever make up for a lack in those areas. Train hard but just be smart my friends.

Shane Doll is a certified personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs. Experience the Shaping Concepts difference today.

Also I recommend you to read this article The Effective Cutting Diet – What To Eat To Accelerate Your Results, if you are looking for effective and not harmful ways of loosing weight.

 

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Category: Supplements.