WASHINGTON – According to a new study by the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, dietary nitrate has profound positive effects on mitochondrial function, as well as whole-body oxygen consumption during exercise.

Researchers studied the effects of a dietary intervention with inorganic nitrate on basal mitochondrial function and whole-body oxygen consumption in healthy volunteers in a double-blind crossover trial.

Nitrite supplementation was found to help the human body produce energy or ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) during oxidative phosporylation with less oxygen. ATP is an energy molecule found, made and used in the body. This was seen in muscle mitochondria harvested after nitrate supplementation displayed an improvement in oxidative phosphorylation efficiency (P/O ratio) and a decrease in respiration.

The improved mitochondrial P/O ratio correlated to the reduction in oxygen cost during exercise. Nitrate also reduced the expression of ATP/ADP translocase, a protein involved in the body’s ability to conduct internal electric charges. These charges are essential in nerve functionality and muscle movement.

“The fact that the relatively short-term dietary regimen can influence expression of important mitochondrial proteins may have profound impact on exercise physiology,” researchers stated. “Moreover, it may also have implications for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases in which dysfunctional mitochondria play a central role.”