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The athletic performance supplement industry is a multibillion-dollar business and one popular category claims to increase nitric oxide (NO) production. We report three patients presenting to the emergency department with adverse effects. A 33-year-old man presented with palpitations, dizziness, vomiting, and syncope, after the use of NO(2) platinum. His examination and electrocardiogram (ECG) were normal. The dizziness persisted, requiring admission overnight. A 21-year-old man with palpitations and near syncope had used a "nitric oxide" supplement. He was tachycardic to 115 bpm with otherwise normal examination. Laboratory values including methemoglobin, and ECG were unremarkable. He was treated with 1 L of saline with no change in heart rate. He was admitted for observation. A 24-year-old man presented after taking NO-Xplode with palpitations and a headache. His examination, laboratory values, and ECG were normal. He was discharged. The purported active ingredient in these products is arginine alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG), which is claimed to increase NO production by supplying the precursor L-arginine. The symptoms could be due to vasodilation from increased levels of NO, though other etiologies cannot be excluded. AAKG containing supplements may be associated with adverse effects requiring hospital admission.


J M Prosser, N Majlesi, G M Chan, D Olsen, R S Hoffman, L S Nelson. Adverse effects associated with arginine alpha-ketoglutarate containing supplements. Human & experimental toxicology. 2009 May;28(5):259-62

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PMID: 19755457

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