Dietary Nitrate Supplementation and Exercise Performance

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Abstract

Dietary nitrate is growing in popularity as a sports nutrition supplement. This article reviews the evidence base for the potential of inorganic nitrate to enhance sports and exercise performance. Inorganic nitrate is present in numerous foodstuffs and is abundant in green leafy vegetables and beetroot. Following ingestion, nitrate is converted in the body to nitrite and stored and circulated in the blood. In conditions of low oxygen availability, nitrite can be converted into nitric oxide, which is known to play a number of important roles in vascular and metabolic control. Dietary nitrate supplementation increases plasma nitrite concentration and reduces resting blood pressure. Intriguingly, nitrate supplementation also reduces the oxygen cost of submaximal exercise and can, in some circumstances, enhance exercise tolerance and performance. The mechanisms that may be responsible for these effects are reviewed and practical guidelines for safe and efficacious dietary nitrate supplementation are provided.

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