A single dosage of dietary inorganic nitrate lowers blood pressure in normotensive healthy volunteers by bioconversion to the vasodilator nitric oxide. The biological conversion process requires enzymes present in saliva and liver. The metabolic pathway is shown below.
The mechanism by which dietary nitrates reduce blood pressure has not been fully elucidated, but may involve several pathways: (1) direct vasodilation of blood vessels; (2) increased production of endothelial-derived relaxing factor(s); (3) reduced oxidative stress from less superoxide formation; and (4) decreased inflammation due to reduction of leukocyte adhesion molecule expression.
Long-term consumption of high levels of sodium in the diet leads to increased blood pressure due to water retention and increased heart muscle workload. Chronic low intake of sodium can also lead to hypertension because the body retains more fluid, thereby putting extra strain on the heart. Dietary nitrates are converted into nitrite and then into nitric oxide by two enzymes present in saliva and liver. This biochemical reaction causes blood vessels to relax and expands blood vessel diameter. The increase in blood flow helps remove oxygen-deprived cells from the body's main circulation system - leading to fewer attacks from harmful bacteria in your bloodstream.
These nitrites in the blood alter hemoglobin, or the molecules that assist carry oxygen throughout the body. Nitrates might reduce the amount of oxygen available for the body to operate correctly. They can also affect the heart rhythm. Too much exposure to nitrates could lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and even heart failure.
Nitrates are found in foods like beets, spinach, potatoes, eggs, milk, meat, fish, peanuts, soy products, celery, carrots, chili peppers, tomatoes, wine, and beer. The main source is naturally occurring nitrogen oxide (NOx) found in vegetables and fruits that have been exposed to sunlight or farm chemicals.
When you inject drugs like poppers or spray them on your skin like tattoos, a high concentration of nitrate is used as an ingredient to make fireworks bright and colorful. This practice has become popular among drug users looking to get a "high" from shooting up into their muscles. The drugs are toxic if injected into a vein but are harmless when sprayed onto skin. The resulting firework effect is called "popping."
People who use guns as a method of self-defense often wear protective clothing or gear during gunfights. This includes wearing clothes with bulletsproof material or armor. Gunfighters sometimes wear gloves to protect their hands during battles.
Nitrates, in essence, dilate (widen or relax) the arteries and veins not only in the heart but also throughout the body. Nitrates, by dilating the blood arteries of the heart, can alleviate stress on the heart by increasing blood flow to the heart muscle. This will alleviate the symptoms of angina. They may also help prevent further damage to the heart tissue due to the lack of blood and oxygen.
Angina is pain or discomfort caused by a lack of blood and oxygen to the heart. The pain usually occurs when exercising or after eating foods that are rich in sugar or alcohol. Other factors such as smoking, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure can also contribute to angina. Angina can be mild, where you feel discomfort but can still function normally, or it can be severe where you experience chest pain when walking down stairs or lifting objects. Medical treatment with medications or surgery may be necessary depending on the cause of the problem.
There are several different types of drugs used to treat angina. Beta-adrenergic blockers work by blocking the effects of adrenaline on heart muscles cells. These drugs include propranolol (Inderal), metoprolol (Lopressor), and oxford hearts' version called bisoprolol (Zebeta). These drugs are very effective at reducing the frequency of anginal attacks. Calcium channel blockers reduce the activity of certain proteins in the cell membranes that are involved in the transmission of messages from one cell to another.
Nitrates are harmful because they react with hemoglobin, converting it into a molecule known as methemoglobin. Methemoglobinemia can lead to severe pain and neurological damage if not treated immediately. Children are particularly at risk because their bodies are still developing, so any impairment of oxygen transport could have serious long-term consequences.
In infants, nitrate poisoning usually results from eating vegetables contaminated with nitrogen-rich fertilizer or manure. The vegetable matter passes through the digestive system undigested, allowing the nitrates to be released and absorbed by the body. Symptoms include headache, irritability, poor appetite, stomach pain, diarrhea, and potentially serious complications including hypothyroidism and neurodevelopmental problems.
A blood test can be used to check for signs of nitrate poisoning. Treatment includes removing the child from danger, cleaning out the stomach, and giving them lots of fluids. In an emergency, nitroglycerin may be used to dissolve some types of methemoglobin.
Nitrates are inert, which means they are stable and unlikely to alter and cause harm. However, bacteria in the mouth or enzymes in the body can convert them to nitrites, which are potentially toxic. In turn, nitrites can either convert to nitric oxide, which is good for the body, or to ammonia. Ammonia is toxic to the body.
Natural sources of nitrate include vegetables such as spinach, beetroot, and tomatoes, fruits such as strawberries and blueberries, grains such as wheat and barley, and even some meats such as beef and pork. The human body cannot use natural nitrates directly; rather, they must be converted into nitrite first. This process happens primarily in your mouth when you eat foods containing high levels of alkalinity and acidity. For example, eating citrus fruits or drinking grapefruit juice can lead to the conversion of natural nitrates into nitrite. Drinking beer, wine, or liquor also exposes you to alcohol, which is an acidic substance that can trigger the conversion of natural nitrates into nitrite.
In contrast, processed foods such as meat products that have been treated with chemicals, cured with salt, or otherwise altered through processing cannot provide natural nitrates for conversion. These processed foods must instead be fortified with synthetic nitrates, which are then converted into nitrite by bacteria in the food itself. The result is the same as if no treatment had been done to the natural nitrates - they remain intact and available for growth during storage.