In emphasizing heart health, let’s also be sure to look beyond cholesterol. Yes, cholesterol is important, and you should know your numbers – for your total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL.

But another aspect of your heart health that is just as important is the elasticity of your blood vessels.

When your blood vessels are healthy they respond normally to stimuli like exercise, stress, and sexual arousal by dilating – by getting wider – which allows for more blood to flow to those areas in the body that need the additional blood. Blood vessels with optimal elasticity also help maintain healthy blood pressure.

But often as a result of aging, or due to lifestyle choices like smoking or poor dietary choices, our blood vessels can lose their optimal elasticity.

What can we do to ensure our blood vessels maintain their elasticity? Just say NO – as in N-O, nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a substance that is created throughout our bodies, but especially in our blood vessels.

When this happens normally, the blood vessels respond by increasing their diameter so they can provide more blood to downstream tissues.

Can we create more nitric oxide? Yes, we can. The most important nutrient for creating nitric oxide is the amino acid L-arginine.* As an amino acid, L-arginine is part of many proteins, but L-arginine can also be taken by itself as a nutritional supplement to optimize blood vessel function.*

Research has shown that supplemental L-arginine does indeed increase blood vessel elasticity and blood flow.*

Researchers in Germany found that individuals older than 70 tended to have less blood flow, which improved with an L-arginine supplement; although a large dose of 16 grams daily was used.

In another study, only two grams daily of sustained-release L-arginine increased blood vessel elasticity and blood flow in a group of healthy individuals.*

Other nutrients that support blood vessel health

You may have heard of resveratrol – it is often referred to as a “healthy aging” supplement. Resveratrol enhances our cells’ mitochondria in their job of creating cellular energy, but it also acts as an antioxidant and can support blood vessel function as well.*

Numerous studies show resveratrol supplementation promotes nitric oxide production, blood vessel elasticity, and healthy blood flow.*

Folate (folic acid and other forms, like 5-MTHF) acts as a nutrient cofactor for the enzyme that creates nitric oxide from L-arginine; and vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps protect this same enzyme.*

Don’t forget the green tea!

Plant polyphenols in green tea, as well as isolates of green tea, have also been shown in human research to act as antioxidants that increase nitric oxide and support blood vessel health.* So feel free to drink green tea or supplement with green tea extract.

Or you could try Thorne’s Perfusia Plus®, which contains all of these nutrients.