(ORDO NEWS) — It is known that nitrate ions contained in products (say, in beet juice) significantly improve the performance of athletes.
In the new paper, the scientists used tagged atoms and established the mechanism behind this effect, including the role of nitric oxide NO.
Sports doctors and athletes have long known that nitrates contained in food – primarily in beetroot juice – increase endurance and improve the results of intense training. However, it has not yet been clear what mechanism underlies this effect.
It turned out that taken orally (orally) nitrate changes cellular metabolism : it increases the bioavailability of nitrogen monoxide (NO) and thus improves athletic performance.
This is described in a new article, the authors of which established the distribution and metabolic transformations of dietary nitrate – at rest and during muscle exercise.
The new randomized study involved ten healthy volunteers. Some received nutritional supplements containing potassium nitrate (approximately 130 milligrams) labeled with nitrogen-15, while others received a placebo.
To describe in detail the condition of the muscles, the subjects underwent a biopsy: they took small samples of muscle tissue.
The procedure took place before the start of the study, one and three hours after taking the drug , as well as performing 60 maximally strong contractions of the quadriceps.
This is a muscle that abducts the lower leg and extends the knee, that is, straightens the leg. Each such experiment took no more than five minutes.
The scientists also took samples of blood plasma, saliva and urine – chemiluminescent analysis made it possible to determine the concentration of nitrate and nitrite ions in these biological fluids.
In addition, mass spectrometry revealed in them the proportion of nitrogen-15 among other isotopes of this element.
It turned out that the concentration of nitrate (but not nitrite) after supplementation and muscle work increased threefold. Moreover, most of the N atoms in it turned out to be just nitrogen-15.
During the exercise tests, the researchers assessed the capabilities of the muscles of the experimental and control groups.
As a result, taking dietary nitrate increased quadriceps strength (more precisely, torque) by about seven percent. Such indicators were noted during the first 18 muscle contractions after taking nitrate.
“Our work provided important evidence for the ability of dietary nitrate (often consumed with beetroot juice) to improve athletic performance.
It is impressive that this new study is the best description to date of the mechanism by which dietary nitrate improves muscle performance,” explained Andy Jones.
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