How Do People Get Nitrogen into Their Bodies?

by Jack S. Waverly; Updated September 26, 2017

The Most Commonly Known Way

When you ask people how they get nitrogen into their bodies, many people will make a reference to deep sea divers. This is partially true. When a diver uses a scuba tank for air, the gas inside the tank is a combination of oxygen and nitrogen, with the nitrogen being more than 75 percent of the mix. When a diver is under water, his body is under pressure from the water. This pressure forces the nitrogen into his body through the fatty tissue. The longer the dive and the farther down the diver goes, the more nitrogen enters the body.
When the diver moves toward the water surface, the pressure decreases. When this happens, the nitrogen from the body enters the bloodstream. A comparison to this is when you open a bottle of beer. The gas is kept under pressure by the cap. Once the cap is removed, air bubbles form and force the gas out. When there is too much gas released, it causes overflow and miniature explosions of gas. When there is too much nitrogen entering the blood, the gas can overflow, causing miniature eruptions of gas within the blood. This causes what is known as “the bends.”

The Real Way for Most People

The most common way for people to get nitrogen into their bodies is through eating when their water supply contains less than 10 mg of nitrate per liter. When the levels of nitrate are above 50 mg, then the water supply becomes the main source of intake for people to get nitrogen into their bodies. Most often, the nitrogen levels in water are too low for a usable supply, so your body gets nitrogen by eating food, most likely from cured meat.

Foods Containing Nitrogen

What are the main foods which get nitrogen into your body? Most foods contain nitrogen in either organic or inorganic form. The foods with the highest amounts of nitrogen are vegetables and fruit such as lettuce, radish, rhubarb and spinach. Dairy products, meats and fish contain a good amount of nitrogen, but not at the levels of vegetables. Cured meat such as sausage, which is preserved with sodium nitrate or nitrate, are yet another way for people to get nitrogen into their bodies.

Amino Acids and Proteins

The most common form of nitrogen in your body is proteins containing mainly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. While neither humans nor animals can get nitrogen into their bodies from the air or soil, they do gain nitrogen from vegetation or other animals which eat vegetation.

The Nitrogen Cycle

While people get nitrogen into their bodies through vegetation, the plants themselves don’t make the nitrates. There is a chemical and biological process which forms a cycle. The cycle begins when animals eat plants that contain nitrogen. As an animal consumes the protein and other material it needs, it then must rid itself of waste material. When the waste product is released, it contains nitrogen wastes such as amino acids and urea. Bacteria then attach themselves to the waste and begin consuming the amino acids to produce fuel for living. The bacteria releases nitrogen into the air to combine with oxygen which forms nitrates. When it rains, these nitrates are brought into the soil. Plants then absorb the nitrates and create vegetable proteins. The plants are eaten by animals, and the vegetable protein is changed to animal protein. The nitrates, with the help of bacteria, become nitrogen when used by both plants and animals. Thus, we get nitrogen into our bodies.

Nitrogen Enrichment

Is there a method where you can get more nitrogen into your body? Yes, by using fertilizers and a natural method using the rotation of legumes with other general crops. In this manner, nitrogen-fixing bacteria attack the legume roots to get their food supply from the roots. In the process, these bacteria use nitrogen from the atmosphere adding it to the cycle. The plant develops root nodules to house the bacteria, which are destroyed as the plant ages. The plant digests the bacteria and the nitrates. Then the plant becomes a part of the food cycle, which helps people get more nitrogen into their bodies. Some of the most common legumes used are alfalfa, beans and peas.