Debunking Beet Juice Myths #3: Beet Juice and Headaches


Recently, I heard about how some people believed beets cause headaches due to their high iron content. So I went to write an article about how Red Rush didn’t contain enough iron to cause a headache, but then I started doing more research and couldn’t find any evidence that iron or even iron overdoses caused headaches. So I tried to find evidence that beets and/or nitric oxide caused headaches or triggered migraines and could not find much to back that up.

Keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am simply a blogger with a background in research and science writing who tries to use reliable, independent third-party sources.

A beet contains 6% of your daily value of iron. Red Rush contains only 2%. Red Rush  is made from 5 beets but has less iron than five regular beets. How is that possible?  It has to do with the juicing process.

From Red Rush’s Ryan Davis, (not a third-party source)

We use only beet juice and none of the beet fiber, solids or greens. Our beet juice is concentrated to seven times its natural solids content through vacuum evaporation to remove the extra water.

Heavier micronutrients like iron can become associated or adhere to fibrous plant tissues. I suggest that most of the iron is removed with the fiber through our juicing process.

A typical whole beet (without the greens) contains about 92 mg of nitrate.  The suggested nitrate intake for lowering systolic blood pressure (up to 10 points) or improving athletic performance is 300 to 500 mg of nitrate daily.  In other words, one would need to consume 3.3 to 5.4 beets daily to achieve the scientifically proven benefits of beet nitrate.

Red Rush targets the upper level of one’s needs for nitrate based on normal individuals.  Through the use of Berkeley nitric oxide text strips we are realizing that most individuals report deficient results before using Red Rush.  The use of mouthwash, antacid medications, and aging can limit one’s ability to convert the nitrate in Red Rush to nitric oxide.  Some individuals can benefit from up to two shots per day to balance a nitric oxide deficiency.

Red Rush doesn’t have that much iron and shouldn’t cause “iron headaches.”  If I were a wise man, I would end the blog post here and walk away. I’ve pretty much alleviated all concerns about the product we sell causing headaches via its iron content.

What’s the Deal with Iron and Beet Juice and Headaches?

But I am not a wise man. I did some digging and can’t find anything linking iron or beet juice to headaches. In fact, one of the main side effects of iron deficiency is headache. The side effects of too much iron are.

From NHS :

The side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include:

Adult women need a whopping 18 milligrams of iron. Men and post-menopausal women need only 8 milligrams. Six percent of eight milligrams is .48 milligrams.  So if my art-school math teachers were any good at their jobs, you would have to eat seventeen whole beets to get your daily allotment of iron. You’ll need to eat forty if you’re a woman of child-bearing age.

OK, so what could be causing headaches?

Theory One: Nitrate Triggers Migraines.

I can’t find any evidence linking the ingestion of beets or vegetable nitrates to triggering migraine headaches. The University of California Berkeley doesn’t list beets or other high-nitrate vegetables as trigger foods. Some warn that preservatives such as nitrite may trigger migraines, but that’s not the same thing as vegetable nitrate at all. Also, they induced some headaches with glyceryl trinitrate and histamine to artificially stimulate nitric oxide formation back in 1997, a year before they awarded the Nobel Prize to the guys who discovered nitric oxide’s role as a vasodilator. But nitroglycerin and histamine is hardly similar to an arugula-and-beet salad.

Back in the 90’s, nitric oxide was usually considered a pollutant, but now it’s considered healthy.

In 2000, everyone’s favorite Internet doctor, Doc Mercola, published an article saying that nitric oxide was bad. 

In 2007, Mercola published an interview with Dr. Ignarro explaining why NO was good. He’s published quite a few more articles on the benefits of NO since then.

The paradigm had shifted. That’s how science works.They come up with a theory and use it until it falls apart and a new one is born. Right now, everyone is operating on the premise that NO is good for you, and the studies have been backing that up pretty well.

Also, the whole theory on migraines and triggers has recently changed.

From TIME:

If these suspected triggers aren’t causing migraines, though, why have they been fingered as responsible for the headaches? Most of the evidence linking the triggers to migraines comes from studies in which patients self-reported what they thought were the factors responsible for their headaches; for the most part, these factors weren’t tested in the way that Olesen analyzed the effect of bright lights and exercise on migraines in the lab.

People’s beliefs about migraines may also complicate how researchers explore migraine causes. Similar to the placebo effect, how patients think about migraines will often influence how they experience them. If you’re convinced a certain food will a trigger a migraine, your suspicion might become a reality; if you’re worried you’ll get a migraine, you might just bring about one.

Basically, Migraines suck.  They aren’t sure what causes them. Vegetables are currently not suspect.

Theory 2: Allergies

If you eat something and it gives you a headache, you might be allergic to it.

Theory 3: Coincidence

If you eat something and it gives you a headache, you didn’t eat that thing in a lab; you ate it in the real world full of other factors. It may have been something else, but you’ve now made an incorrect association.

Theory 4: Contamination: 

The beets could have had something nasty on them.

Theory 5: Something Else

Maybe, I’m not asking the right questions or researching the right things.  That’s what the comment section is for.

In conclusion, if you have a headache, see a doctor and let him or her tell you why you have it.

8 Things Improved Circulation Can Do For You

Improved Circulation Benefits

Not a circulatory system, but the only image even remotely close that’s free.

There are quite a few drawbacks to having poor circulation. It can make you dizzy. It can make you sleepy. It can make you feel numb, and it will dry out your skin. Let’s pretend that your circulation is normal. Are there any advantages then to having improved blood flow. You bet your bottom dollar.  I found eight today. I am sure there are more, but that would require more research.

1. Reduction in Muscle Fatigue

Lactic acid builds up when no oxygen is present. Blood is the body’s oxygen-bringer. Therefore, better blood flow decreases muscle fatigue and quicker recovery.

2 Enhanced Cognition

A great deal of scientific data indicates that exercise improves cognition.  Exercise increases blood flow due to the release of nitric oxide. More blood and more energy equals a highly functioning frontal lobe.

Source: Scientific American

3. Healthy Skin

Did you know that blood circulation can help keep your skin looking flush and fresh? Don’t believe me, then maybe you’ll believe a skin doctor.

From WebMD

“We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant,” says dermatologist Ellen Marmur, MD, author of Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman’s Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

4. Sexual Health

Jeez. It seems I can’t go a day without blogging about sexual health. But here’s the deal. Even if you don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction, even if you don’t have poor circulation, improved circulation can lead to improved sexual performance.

5. Warm Skin

Speaking of sexual health, being cold and clammy is never a turn on. Improved blood flow keeps your skin warm.

6. Healthier in General

Poor circulation can lead to a host of problems like dizziness, shortness of breath and muscle weakness. It’s also a sign of major cardiovascular problems.

7. Improved Nutrient Delivery

Blood delivers nutrients to your organs. It can also move medicine quickly through your body.

8. Improved Wound Healing

If you are slow to heal, you may just have poor circulation.

From Bridgeport Hospital

Blood circulation is the flow of blood from the heart throughout the body. Blood carries important nutrients, such as oxygen, and removes contaminants, both of which are required to maintain healthy skin and muscles. Good circulation is crucial to wound healing. Without good circulation, wounds heal very slowly or not at all.


Brady Winkles: Red Rush CrossFit Athlete


Brady Winkles is a CrossFit Athlete from the Boise area. You may recognize him from the Backyard Brawl posters.

Red Rush Backyard Brawl

RR: How did you initially get into CrossFit and why?

Brady Winkles: There was a guy who used to do Crossfit at the Anytime Fitness in Kuna, and I was always intrigued (and maybe a little intimidated) by it. It was a lot different than the traditional type of bodybuilding exercises that my Dad and I did, but I wanted to try it. In July 2013 a couple of my buddies from work talked me into going to see Rick Davenport at Crossfit Meridian, and from day one I knew this was for me!

RR: You recently won the Crosstown Throwdown in Boise. Can you give us a mini-analysis of your performance in that competition?

BW: I was satisfied with my team’s performance that day. My coach and workout partners helped me realize that winning or losing isn’t that important, so that took 100% of the stress off for me. Once I stopped worrying so much about my own performance and focused on trying to make the team better, competing actually became fun! I had never clean and jerked 245 in training. In the competition I was able to hit it 3 times. The Throwdown helped me solidify all the hard work that I had been putting in.

 RR: You also came in third in the Tuff Stuff competition last weekend.  And according to the CrossFit website,  you’ve only been doing CrossFit for a year or so with no prior athletic background.   Is that accurate?  What sort of training regimen have you been implementing to see these results  in such a relatively short time? 


BW: Yes, that is accurate. When I was 17 and started strength training,  I weighed 135 pounds . This picture always gave me enough motivation to work harder than everyone else in the gym. Naturally, I am a decent athlete and extremely competitive. These two things combined with three years of strength training under my belt helped me out in CrossFit.

I also have the chance to train with people that push me every single day, so I can maximize my efforts. For instance, there’s a guy at my gym who can snatch 300 lbs, but I can beat him in Metcons. This allows for me to push him in the endurance workouts and learn from him in the strength stuff.

 RR: Any other wins or other athletic achievements?

BW: Nothing yet, but we are building something big at CrossFit Meridian so watch out!

 RR: How have you been getting ready for the Backyard Brawl?  What do you think your chances are?

BW: I just come into the gym everyday and train with a purpose. We are trying our best to be ready for the unknown. I’m not sure what my chances are, but I want that kettlebell! It’s definitely the coolest prize I have seen at a competition.

Backyard Brawl Prizes

 RR: What are your plans for future competition? 

BW: The last one I think I’ll do this year is the Monster Bash, which is a team comp in October.

Depending on how we do in the Open (which starts in February), I’d like to go to Regionals with my team next year. I know that getting good at CrossFit takes time, so i’ll continue to train hard and see how far it takes me!

 RR: How does Red Rush work for you?

BW: Red Rush is awesome, especially in the phase of training I am in right now. It allows me to do more volume and gives me more overall stamina when I need it. The first thing I do in the morning is pull one of those out of the fridge and head to the gym!

Follow Brady on Instagram

Red Rush Athletes

Top 5 Reasons to Drink Beet Juice ( if You’re Over Forty )

Nitric Oxide Elderly

If being forty years old were an escalator ride, I would be at the point in the ride where there were only two escalator stairs that hadn’t slid into the oncoming floor, my body still somewhat sunken below the plateau of fortiness. The venerable Iron Man triathlete Lew Hollander once said something to the effect of “It’s what you do when you’re forty that affects how you are going to be when you’re eighty.”

I’m going to wager that there isn’t a Logan’s Run-esque self-destruct switch built into our bodies that flips over immediately when we go from thirty nine to forty. I’m going to assume that forty is a nice round number people use to indicate (symbolically) the passing of our youths.

One of the key biological markers of being forty is a decrease in nitric oxide levels. And why are nitric oxide levels important to folks over forty? Here are five reasons.

Sexual Health

The majority of male sexual dysfunction is caused by poor circulation. Additionally, research indicates that females may suffer from circulation-based sexual dysfunction as well. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Beet juice can help you keep your nitric oxide levels up and your love lives active.

Heart Health

Heart disease kills more people than anything. I think Norm explains it best.

I also think Clinical Chemistry explains it best:

 An understanding of the homeostatic function of the vascular endothelium is important for the modern cardiologist. The role of nitric oxide in mediating many of the regulatory properties of the endothelium is now recognized, as is a growing understanding of how conditions and diseases considered to be “risk factors” for atherosclerosis cause endothelial dysfunction with loss of nitric oxide bioactivity. The potential consequences of endothelial dysfunction are numerous, including coronary constriction or inadequate dilation during physical or mental stress, producing myocardial ischemia; plaque rupture and thrombosis, causing unstable angina or myocardial infarction; and reperfusion injury after thrombolysis.

Arterial Health

They say you are only as old as your arteries. Nitric oxide helps keep your arteries young and flexible. 

Mental Health

As we get older, our brains tend to get a little dodgy. A dodgy brain can make you lose your glasses on your head or forget your birthday. My grandmother used to hold her glasses in front of her and shout. “I am holding my glasses in my hand. I can’t find my glasses even though they are clearly in my hand.” That was her high school yearbook quote. She’s just weird. I’m pretty sure Oliver Sacks wrote an essay about her.

Anyway,  one of the problems the elderly have is that they don’t get enough blood to their brains due to poor circulation. A lack of blood flow to the brain has been linked to dementia. So juice those brains before they’re mushed.

Athletic Performance

If you’re over forty, that doesn’t mean you’re going to hike your pants up as high as they’ll go and then take up Matlock-watching and coupon cutting for the rest of your life! No. You’re going to want to continue doing those things that you enjoy for as long as you can possibly enjoy them.

Stress and high fructose corn syrup and other terrible things chip away at the precious endothelium lining your blood vessels. Beet juice can give your body the resources it needs to create nitric oxide, so you don’t slow down.

5 Things No One Has Told You About Beet Juicing

Beet juice

After 125 blog posts, you may think that there are few beet-juicing secrets left. Good news, true beet-lievers!. The varying effects and day-to-day discoveries about nitric oxide and beetroot juice can probably fill a small library. I’ve barely touched on subjects like nitric oxide and wound healing or nitric oxide’s positive effects on the nervous system or the very practical benefits of increased blood flow.

And if such a day comes when all beet and nitric oxide facts have been spoke of, I can catalog beet puns and/or write epic poetry that somehow involve beets. Everyone likes puns and poetry, right?

What? No. Really? OK. Fine: I’ll just keep doing normal blog posts.  Here are some things that often go unsaid about beet juicing.

1. Don’t Ever, Ever, Ever Spill Beet Juice

Red Rush bottle caps are fastened tight for a reason. No one wants you to spill beet juice. It stains and looks like blood. I spilled some on my hands and clothes and walked around looking like a murderer for the rest of the day.

2. Beet Juice Can Be Relaxing

Studies have found–and you can test this for yourself at the blood pressure machine at your corner drug store– that beet juice can temporarily lower blood pressure. This is because beet nitrate gets converted into nitric oxide, a signaling agent that widens blood vessels. How do we feel when we don’t have enough nitric oxide? The short answer answer is bad. The long answer is:

Dr. Michael Roizen of ShareCare:

The lack of nitric oxide helps to explain the detrimental effects we feel during periods of high stress as well as periods of low sleep.

3. It Can Give You Too Much Confidence (Avoid The Magic Feather Effect) 

Between the electric boost to the metabolism, the better blood flow, the drop in blood pressure and the b-vitamins, you’re going to feel pretty darn good.  That might lead to cockiness.

Studies have found that beet juice may be able to increase stamina by 16% percent.  That number was derived from the average increase of test subjects.  That means, it was a sixteen percent increase in an individual’s performance. If your performance was bad to begin with, it will still be bad, but %16 percent better.

Beet juice isn’t magic. It’s science, and it unlike magic, science is a little less flashy and a ton more boring. ( Think: Climbing into a commercial jet vs. Soaring, hair in the wind, on magical waxen wings. ) Even when you drink beet juice, your body still has to do the work. Like Dumbo’s Magic Feather, the power lies within you. Beet juice just enhances what’s already there.

4. Nitrates Do Something Unique

Although beet juice isn’t magical, nitrates are unique. I learned this today.

From NHS:

The researchers conclude that a short period of dietary supplementation of nitrates improves muscle oxygenation during moderate exercise. They say that this improvement cannot be achieved by any other known means, including long-term endurance exercise training. For certain groups of people, for example the elderly and those with cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic disease, activities are difficult and nitrate supplementation may improve quality of life for these people through improvement of their oxygen metabolism

5. More Bathroom Talk

Beeturia (pink or red urine) affects 15% of people, but almost everyone will have red bowel movements at some point. Sorry.

Beets have betacyanins. That’s why beets are red and that’s why they are so healthy.

6. Beet Poetry

O! beets! Upon nighttime’s breath you roar!

Sunset’s children what bathed in rays most crimson

Roundish, like some frumpy drunkard’s nose.

Eternal, desperate, crunchy, damp. Beets