Last Updated: September 28, 2022

Inorganic nitrate (NO3-) is an endogenously produced food product that appears to have a critical role in blood pressure and cardiovascular health management; the main ingredient in beetroot, nitrate converts to nitric oxide by various means independent of the NOS enzyme and may aid exercise.

Nitrate is most often used for


Nitrate (NO3-) is a small molecule produced in the body to limited amounts (as a byproduct of nitric oxide) and is obtainable via consumption of vegetables, particularly beetroot and other low-calorie tuber vegetables such as turnips and leafy green vegetables such as spinach or rocket (arugula). It appears to be a potent regulator of blood flow and vasodilatation via its metabolite nitric oxide, and has greater relative affinity for areas of the body with poor oxygenation as the conversion of nitrite (NO2-, a metabolite of nitrate) to nitric oxide is undergone by deoxygenated blood.

In regards to cardiovascular health, it appears to reduce blood pressure in instances where blood pressure is raised. This appears to occur in people with hypertension and can occur in otherwise healthy persons undergoing exercise with little effect on resting blood pressure in healthy persons. It may exert endothelial protective effects, and is thought to be a link between vegetable intake and cardiovascular health.

It appears to enhance exercise performance secondary to reducing the oxygen cost of exercise (and thus prolonging time to exhaustion, thought to be due to increased mitochondrial efficiency). There is little to no effect on acute power output, but seems to reduce the rate of fatigue seen with continued muscle contractions and as such seems to have most benefit in exercises ranging from 1 minutes up to 10 minutes and as such exerts most benefit during anaerobic cardiovascular exercise or muscular endurance events (sports requiring anaerobic intervals such as hockey or rugby, some benefit to rowing and crossfit-type exercises) but although it does have benefit to prolonged cardiovascular exercise (5km jogs or 10km cycling events) the magnitude of effect appears to be lesser.

Due to interactions with nitric oxide, it appears to also be kidney protective and may help to regulate blood flow during the aging process (which is associated with reduced nitrate levels in circulation); the anti-aging effects, however, are preliminary at this moment in time. Due to endogenous production of nitrate and some disease states with lower circulating nitrate (cardiovascular diseases and aging) nitrate may have pseudovitamin-like properties but more evidence is required to support this claim.

Nitrate has the potential to form carcinogenic nitrosamines, although the practical significance of this in living systems is not known (epidemiological survey research has failed to show a significant link after controlling for other confounds, but some nitrosamines themselves are proven carcinogenic; practical relevance of nitrates and subsequently forming nitrosamines following supplemental or vegetable intake in a mixed diet is not really known). Although the carcinogenic potential cannot be ruled out at this time, it cannot be supported reliably either.

What else is Nitrate known as?
Note that Nitrate is also known as:
  • Beetroot extract
Nitrate should not be confused with:
Dosage information

The optimal dosage of nitrate supplementation tends to be 0.1-0.2mmol/kg (or 6.4-12.8mg/kg), which is the range of:

  • 440-870mg for a 150lb person
  • 580-1,160mg for a 200lb person
  • 730-1,450mg for a 250lb person

Supplementation of nitrates via beetroot is equally feasible, and beetroot itself is dosed according to its nitrate content.

A randomized controlled trial noted that a single 2g dose of commercially available amaranth (red spinach) extract can increase nitrate levels for up to 8 hours.

Examine Database: Nitrate
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Examine Database References
  1. Exercise Performance During Hypoxia - Vanhatalo A, Fulford J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Winyard PG, Jones AMDietary nitrate reduces muscle metabolic perturbation and improves exercise tolerance in hypoxiaJ Physiol.(2011 Nov 15)
  2. Oxygenation Cost of Exercise - Lansley KE, Winyard PG, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Gilchrist M, Benjamin N, Jones AMDietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled studyJ Appl Physiol.(2011 Mar)
  3. Anaerobic Capacity - Wylie LJ, Mohr M, Krustrup P, Jackman SR, Ermιdis G, Kelly J, Black MI, Bailey SJ, Vanhatalo A, Jones AMDietary nitrate supplementation improves team sport-specific intense intermittent exercise performanceEur J Appl Physiol.(2013 Feb 1)
  4. Power Output - Fulford J, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Jones AMInfluence of dietary nitrate supplementation on human skeletal muscle metabolism and force production during maximum voluntary contractionsPflugers Arch.(2013 Jan 26)
  5. Heart Rate - Coles LT, Clifton PMEffect of beetroot juice on lowering blood pressure in free-living, disease-free adults: a randomized, placebo-controlled trialNutr J.(2012 Dec 11)
  6. Heart Rate - Bondonno CP, Liu AH, Croft KD, Ward NC, Shinde S, Moodley Y, Lundberg JO, Puddey IB, Woodman RJ, Hodgson JMAbsence of an effect of high nitrate intake from beetroot juice on blood pressure in treated hypertensive individuals: a randomized controlled trialAm J Clin Nutr.(2015 Aug)
  7. Blood Pressure - Kelly J, Fulford J, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, French O, Bailey SJ, Gilchrist M, Winyard PG, Jones AMEffects of short-term dietary nitrate supplementation on blood pressure, O2 uptake kinetics, and muscle and cognitive function in older adultsAm J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol.(2013 Jan 15)
  8. Rate of Perceived Exertion - Murphy M, Eliot K, Heuertz RM, Weiss EWhole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performanceJ Acad Nutr Diet.(2012 Apr)
  9. Exercise Performance During Hypoxia - Evi Masschelein, Ruud Van Thienen, Xu Wang, Ann Van Schepdael, Martine Thomis, Peter HespelDietary nitrate improves muscle but not cerebral oxygenation status during exercise in hypoxiaJ Appl Physiol (1985).(2012 Sep 1)
  10. Plasma Nitrate - Gilchrist M, Winyard PG, Aizawa K, Anning C, Shore A, Benjamin NEffect of dietary nitrate on blood pressure, endothelial function, and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetesFree Radic Biol Med.(2013 Feb 7)
  11. Plasma Nitrate - Subramanian D, Gupta SPharmacokinetic study of amaranth extract in healthy humans: A randomized trialNutrition.(2016 Jul-Aug)