L-arginine is an amino acid commonly sold in supplement form and obtained naturally in the diet. L-arginine-rich foods include plant and animal proteins, such as dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.
Necessary for the production of protein, L-arginine also helps rid the body of ammonia (a waste product) and stimulates the release of insulin. In addition, L-arginine is used to make nitric oxide (a compound that relaxes the blood vessels). Although some studies suggest that L-arginine may benefit certain health conditions, other research shows that L-arginine may have harmful effects on some individuals.
Eggs, meats, milk, soy proteins, peanuts, and walnuts are all sources of arginine. The physiologically active form, L-arginine, is obtained by breaking down proteins. Arginine also may be synthesized in the laboratory. Because L-arginine may be synthesized in the body, it is classified as a nonessential amino acid in adults. However, in children and in people with certain conditions (eg, infection, trauma), L-arginine synthesis may become compromised and then may be considered semi-essential.
L-arginine is a nonessential amino acid that may play an important role in the treatment of heart disease due to its block arterial plaque buildup, blood clots, platelet clumping, and to increase blood flow through the coronary artery. L-arginine is commonly sold as a health supplement claiming to improve vascular health.
Studies indicate that L-arginine may help with the following conditions:
Several small studies show that increasing intake of foods high in L-arginine may help ease symptoms, improve libido increase exercise tolerance, and improve blood vessel function in people with angina.
Congestive Heart Failure
L-arginine may improve cardiac performance in people with congestive heart failure, according to a 2000 study published in Clinical Cardiology. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) caution that L-arginine should not be used in place of standard treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider.
More Research on L-Arginine
Studies also show that L-arginine may be effective for managing inflammation of the bladder, relieving leg cramping and weakness caused by blocked arteries (a condition known as intermittent claudication), and improving kidney function in kidney transplant patients taking cyclosporine. What’s more, taking L-arginine in combination with ribonucleic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) may reduce recovery time, protect against infection, and promote wound healing after surgery.
More benefits from L-Arginine supplementation
Protects Your Heart – Nitric Oxide is needed for healthy blood vessels and good blood circulation. For this reason, some people with high blood pressure can benefit from taking L-Arginine, as it helps produce more Nitric Oxide. One of the biggest benefits is that it relaxes vessels which allow blood to flow easier, thereby reducing stress on your heart. This ultimately lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of blood clots which can lead to both heart attack and stroke. Read more about how it can help control hypertension and decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease. See this as well.
Lowers Cholesterol – Studies have shown L-Arginine to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. For example, a study performed on healthy volunteers showed that those who took the supplement experienced reduced bad cholesterol levels. It is also suggested that it may increase good cholesterol levels but this has not been completely confirmed yet.
Promotes Anti-Aging Benefits – Arginine is an HGH enhancer. It encourages the production of human growth hormone (HGH) by stimulating the pituitary gland. This is a hormone that your body makes less of as you age so by increasing production, you’re rewarded with anti-aging benefits and reducing PE. When enough human growth hormone is released in the body, the aging process is slowed down, and diseases related to aging are less likely to develop. For this reason, individuals who are interested in anti-aging solutions can benefit from taking L-Arginine supplements.
Helps Fight Cancer – There is evidence that Arginine may help those with cancer. Large amounts of the essential amino acid and Vitamin D3 in the body can improve the immune system so much that it can clean out cancerous cells. Based on research, the growth of prostate cancer in particular can be stopped with sufficient amounts of it.
Boosts Immune System and Reduces Recovery Time – Studies show that increasing L-Arginine doses in your body can boost your immune system and speed up recovery. This amino acid can also help stimulate the immune response to bacterial challenges and help increase the amount of collagen needed for repairing wounds. For example, when taken with ribonucleic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid after surgery, it has been found to help patients recovered faster, wounds healed more quickly, and the risk of infection was decreased.
Promotes Weight Loss – Weight loss may be another benefit of L-Arginine supplementation since it improves the nitrogen balance in the body, which helps metabolize protein. As a result, more protein is converted into lean muscle, and with more muscle mass, the body is better able to burn unwanted fat. This process allows the body to reduce the amount of fat that it stores and maintain (or increase) essential muscle mass. When trying to lose weight, the goal is to lose fat…not muscle…because your muscles actually enable you to burn fat faster.
Enhances Workouts – The best way for your body to be in its optimal condition for exercise and sports is to supply it with lots of Nitric Oxide. An increased supply of blood and fluids in the muscle tissues is necessary for the muscles to function more efficiently, especially during workouts.
As with any type of dietary supplement, it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor before using Arginine supplements. That being said, the ingredients are considered safe.
There are some potential side effects, although they are generally minimal.
It may potentially cause bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, and headaches. Those who take too much can experience stomach acid due to the production of the hormone gastrin.
Also, it can cause some side effects such as allergies, airway inflammation, worsening of asthma, blood abnormalities, and low blood pressure. Consult with your doctor.
Not recommend for certain groups of people
As of yet, studies regarding benefits or effects of L-Arginine have not been conducted on children. Children already have plenty of the amino acid in their blood; therefore, supplementation is recommended only for adults (age 18 and older).
Also those who want to become or are pregnant and nursing women should not take the supplement; the Arginine they get naturally from food sources is fine but taking extra amounts in pill or liquid form may cause problems. Therefore, consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Also, if you have any medical conditions, consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement.
People with diabetes or with genital herpes should check with their doctor before taking these supplements as it may worsen the condition.
Since additional Arginine may inflame the airway, supplements are not recommended if you have asthma.
Because Arginine lowers blood pressure, do not take supplements if you already have low blood pressure as it may cause it to go too low.
Do not take at least 2 weeks before surgery as it might affect blood pressure.
If you have had a recent heart attack, do not take supplemental Arginine. There is a concern that it might increase the risk of death after a heart attack, especially in older people.
If you are currently using prescription medications, consult your doctor before using any dietary supplement.
Taking L-Arginine along with medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) may cause your blood pressure to go too low.
Taking L-Arginine with medications that increase blood flow to the heart (Nitrates) might increase the chance of dizziness and lightheadedness.
Arginine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body and is mostly found in foods, such as legumes, dairy products, seeds, and nuts. Since not all adults have healthy diets, liquid arginine, or L-Arginine, can be taken as a supplement. However, because everybody has different nutritional needs, there is no recommended dose for L-Arginine supplements. In general, men and women only need the recommended daily dose of 5,000 mg to get meaningful health benefits. However, supplements should only be taken for short-term solutions – for no more than six months.
There is no question that increasing your Nitric Oxide level can result in significant health benefits and even better sex, but it is important to get the right dosage of L-Arginine in order to experience these benefits.
Since it occurs naturally in the body, there is no official recommended dose for L-Arginine supplements. Everybody has different nutritional needs, so the right dosage varies from person to person. That being said, the standard amount is approximately ten grams (5,000 mg) per day (or two to three grams, three times a day) for up to six months. In general, men and women only need this daily dose to get meaningful health benefits. However, the amount can be reduced by eating foods that contain a lot of Arginine, such as legumes, dairy products, seeds, and nuts.
According to WebMD, the following doses (by mouth) have been studied in scientific research:
- For preventing the loss of the effectiveness of nitroglycerin in relieving pain in people with chest pain due to coronary artery disease (angina pectoris): 700 mg four times daily.
- For chest pain associated with coronary artery disease (angina pectoris): 3-6 grams three times per day for up to one month.
- For congestive heart failure: doses range from 6-20 grams per day, as three divided doses.