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Nutr Res. 2012 Mar;32(3):160-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.02.002.

Plasma nitrate and nitrite are increased by a high-nitrate supplement but not by high-nitrate foods in older adults.

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Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27109-7868, USA.


Little is known about the effect of dietary nitrate on the nitrate/nitrite/nitric oxide cycle in older adults. We examined the effect of a 3-day control diet vs high-nitrate diet, with and without a high-nitrate supplement (beetroot juice), on plasma nitrate and nitrite kinetics and blood pressure using a randomized 4-period crossover controlled design. We hypothesized that the high-nitrate diet would show higher levels of plasma nitrate/nitrite and lower blood pressure compared with the control diet, which would be potentiated by the supplement. Participants were 8 normotensive older men and women (5 female, 3 male, 72.5 ± 4.7 years old) with no overt disease or medications that affect nitric oxide metabolism. Plasma nitrate and nitrite levels and blood pressure were measured before and hourly for 3 hours after each meal. The mean daily changes in plasma nitrate and nitrite were significantly different from baseline for both control diet + supplement (P < .001 and P = .017 for nitrate and nitrite, respectively) and high-nitrate diet + supplement (P = .001 and P = .002), but not for control diet (P = .713 and P = .741) or high-nitrate diet (P = .852 and P = .500). Blood pressure decreased from the morning baseline measure to the three 2-hour postmeal follow-up time points for all treatments, but there was no main effect for treatment. In healthy older adults, a high-nitrate supplement consumed at breakfast elevated plasma nitrate and nitrite levels throughout the day. This observation may have practical utility for the timing of intake of a nitrate supplement with physical activity for older adults with vascular dysfunction.

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