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L-arginine (or arginine) is an amino acid, and amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins, as we all know. Arginine is obtained through human meals, particularly animal protein sources such as beef and other forms of red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
It may be found naturally in “complete proteins” that include all of the necessary amino acids humans need. Still, it can also be synthesized in laboratories to generate supplements that enhance heart health, athletic performance, mental capacities, and much more.
What Is L-Arginine and How Does It Work?
While L-arginine isn’t an essential amino acid (one that the body can’t create on its own and must get from outside sources), it’s regarded as somewhat necessary since it’s required for various tasks. Still, it is often at low levels, particularly as people age.
What is the purpose of arginine? The capacity of supplementary arginine to increase blood flow and circulation is one of the reasons people take it.
It is turned to nitric oxide in the body, which causes blood vessels to dilate. This provides several advantages, including improved heart and brain health.
Another key feature of L-arginine is that it promotes the synthesis of certain hormones, including the beneficial human growth hormones and insulin, which aid in transporting glucose into cells for development and energy generation.
One of the reasons it’s said to improve athletic performance, stamina, and strength is because of this.
L-arginine is not the same as arginine vasopressin (AVP), an antidiuretic hormone that stimulates water reabsorption and raises blood pressure in humans and most animals.
According to research, L-arginine has the following advantages:
- Inflammation control
- Reducing the risk of heart attack and arteriosclerosis
- Restoring blood vessel health
- Battling coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
- Assisting in the reduction of hypertension
- Enhancing athletic performance and tolerance for high-intensity activity
- Boosting immune system performance
- Muscular pain relief (especially in the legs caused by blocked arteries)
- Enhancing kidney health
- Enhancing mental capability
- Alzheimer’s disease prevention
- Impotence, erectile dysfunction, and male infertility may all be treated.
- Keeping the common cold at bay
To understand how nitric oxide (NO) functions in the body, it’s helpful to understand how L-arginine works.
Plants and animals both create nitric oxide, a sort of reactive natural gas. It’s made from L-arginine and nitric oxide synthase (which makes L-arginine its precursor), and it’s a sort of byproduct that results from a variety of chemical interactions.
Endothelial cells (the cells that line the interior of all blood arteries) need L-arginine to produce enough nitric oxide to maintain blood flowing freely.
- Because nitric oxide increases circulation via dilation of blood vessels, persons who don’t have enough of it in their arteries have a greater risk of heart disease.
- NO maintains healthy blood pressure by instructing blood vessel muscles to relax, expand, and allow blood flow while also avoiding clots and plaque formation.
- According to research, as people age, their capacity to create adequate NO in the arterial linings declines. Fortunately, increasing L-arginine intake — whether via supplemental or dietary arginine — may boost nitric oxide production and improve endothelial function.
However, the advantages of L-arginine go beyond creating NO and aiding circulation. As you’ll see, it’s involved in nerve signaling, cell reproduction, and the battle against oxidative stress, which causes illness and aging indications.
Benefits of L-arginine
1. Enhances cardiovascular health
L-arginine has been shown in studies to help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health, which is why oral L-arginine supplements are among the most often prescribed by cardiologists.
These supplements may be a helpful strategy for avoiding a heart attack or stroke in persons who have high-risk factors for coronary heart disease.
L-arginine benefits cardiovascular health in a variety of ways, including:
- Possibly aiding in the prevention of excessive blood pressure (although findings have been mixed overall)
- Persons with blocked arteries have better blood flow (coronary artery disease)
- Decreasing triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- Assisting in the treatment of congestive heart failure
- Enhancing endurance
- Minimizing the symptoms of limb ischemia (blood supply from the heart to the extremities being cut off) (called claudication)
- Lowering fasting blood sugar levels
Because of the benefits of nitric oxide in avoiding blood clots (thrombosis) that cut off blood flow, it’s also often used to relieve chest symptoms (angina pectoris). According to some research, supplementing two to three grams of L-arginine per day may help most angina people overcome their nitrate intolerance.
Finally, arginine may help those with limited stamina, circulatory issues, and a history of heart disease improve their exercise performance safely.
2. Reduces inflammation and protects against the effects of aging
L-arginine has many health advantages, including reducing disease-causing inflammation and improving immunological function.
Due to its effects on the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) and other antioxidant pathways, it has been shown to have significant free radical scavenging properties. As a result, it’s often used with antioxidants like vitamin C and omega-3 fish oil supplements to aid in the slowing of the aging process and prevent many chronic illnesses.
Because NO operates as a neurotransmitter and a protective agent against outside dangers in the brain, L-arginine positively impacts both the central nervous system and immune system functioning.
It may help cleanse the body and even reduce ammonia levels in the blood, which is why it’s occasionally used to treat metabolic disorders and injury to the urethra, which is where ammonia is ejected from the body. Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) is a byproduct of the body’s protein breakdown and one of the causes of tissue necrosis, resulting in cellular damage and inflammation.
3. Improves exercise intensity, performance, and recovery
L-arginine is recognized for improving blood flow, which means it aids in the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to muscle and joint tissues. This means you may get more of the various advantages of exercise with the support of L-arginine, potentially at a greater intensity and with less discomfort.
- It may help persons with various health problems, including poor blood flow, arthritis, or diabetes, by increasing heat and circulation to injured joints or freezing hands and feet.
- Several trials have demonstrated it to increase walking distance and reduce muscular aches and pains, particularly in those with severe intermittent claudication (narrowing of blood vessels in the legs and feet caused by fatty deposits).
- It helps the body produce more human growth hormone, prolactin, and various amino acids, including creatine, L-proline, and L-glutamate.
- According to studies, arginine enhances glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity by enabling more glucose to enter cells, similar to how exercise does.
- The metabolic actions of L-arginine are vital for developing strong muscular tissue, combating inflammation that causes bone and joint pain, mending injuries, and maintaining general nervous system processes.
- It’s also been demonstrated to assist athletes in improving their time to fatigue and tolerance to high-intensity activity.
- There’s also evidence that it may aid with muscle mass gain, bodybuilding, and workout performance. Due to its effects on the body’s capillaries, supplementation has been proven in certain studies to boost plasma insulin and assist create stronger muscles even while you’re resting. In addition, these hormonal changes positively impact your metabolism by assisting in the repair, building, and maintenance of the skeletal-muscle system’s young basis.
L-arginine supplementation at amounts of five to nine grams per day has been shown in certain trials to raise growth hormone levels considerably.
Arginine raises resting growth hormone levels by at least 100% in most instances (in comparison, regular exercise can increase growth hormone levels by 300 percent to 500 percent). Therefore, the combination of L-arginine and exercise is much more effective.
4. Enhances immunity, aids in infection prevention, and accelerates healing
Some people with diseases, injuries, and cancer have been shown to have low levels of L-arginine in their blood. Certain immune system suppressor cells (called MSCs) are thought to be the source of arginine insufficiency or low blood levels.
This is troublesome since arginine is required for the body’s defense by the immune system’s protecting lymphocytes and T-cells.
L-arginine is used in conjunction with omega-3 fish oils and other supplements to reduce the risk of infections (particularly respiratory infections or lung difficulties), improve wound healing, and speed recovery from cancer, sickness, or surgery.
For a variety of reasons, it’s sometimes included in topical ointments used to treat wounds: it improves blood flow, reduces pain and swelling, produces L-proline, which is necessary for collagen formation in the skin, and boosts antioxidant activity.
It’s also used to help heal burns by improving protein function, and it might even help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Although additional study is required, L-arginine is routinely administered to persons undergoing chemotherapy or recovering from operations, viruses, or infections because of its immune-enhancing properties (including HIV).
5. It aids in the treatment of erectile dysfunction and infertility
What role does L-arginine have in sexuality? According to some studies, L-arginine is involved in the process of normal cell reproduction and improving blood circulation.
As a result, arginine helps males increase sperm production and motility.
Because an erection needs the relaxation of smooth muscles induced by nitric oxide, men who suffer from cardiovascular problems linked to low levels of NO in the blood are more prone to have erectile dysfunction and reproductive troubles. While not successful for every man, research shows that L-arginine supplementation paired with other dilators, antioxidants, or anti-inflammatories may cure a considerable proportion of male infertility cases (up to 92 percent, according to some studies).
According to some studies, excessive stress levels might reduce the presence of L-arginine in the sperm production pathway; therefore, supplementing is particularly beneficial for overly stressed males.
L-arginine, L-glutamate, and yohimbine hydrochloride are often used to treat ED, and they seem to be more effective than L-arginine alone. In addition, several of the most regularly prescribed ED drugs increase nitric oxide synthesis in the same way as L-arginine does.
For ED, a normal dose of arginine is three to six grams per day (divided into two doses).
Doctors occasionally use topical lotions containing this amino acid to assist mend sexual issues and naturally treat infertility in both sexes because it promotes circulation to genital tissue.
In addition, some study shows that combining N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and L-arginine may assist women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, and estrogen imbalances naturally balance hormones and restore normal sexual performance.
Other research suggests that combining L-arginine with herbs like chasteberry, green tea extract, and antioxidant supplements might help women who are having trouble conceiving.
Interactions, Side Effects, and Risks
Although being a natural amino acid, it is typically harmless; there are certain possible L-arginine side effects to be aware of. If you have a history of heart illness, low blood pressure, diabetes, renal issues, or an active infection (such as herpes or shingles), you should see a doctor before taking it.
According to some studies, using arginine supplements after a heart attack might be harmful. Therefore, avoid using arginine supplements if you have a history of heart attacks since this supplement has the potential to create issues.
Is it safe to use L-arginine daily? Consuming it in natural food sources isn’t dangerous, but taking it at excessive levels regularly might make your illness worse, particularly if you’re using other drugs or supplements.
Consult your doctor about the best dosage for you and whether or not you should be concerned about side effects given your present circumstances.
It’s still possible to have short-term negative effects, including stomach discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, gout, worsening allergies or asthma, and low blood pressure if you’re typically healthy and taking a dosage of roughly one gram daily.
People with allergies or asthma should exercise care while taking L-arginine since it can trigger allergic responses or increase edema in the lungs and airways.
Finally, L-arginine looks to be safe for pregnant women and children. However, there aren’t many studies on the effects in these groups, so keep to a modest amount or consult your doctor.
Everyone creates some L-arginine on their own, although the amount varies depending on age, inflammation level, heart and artery condition, gender, food quality, and heredity.
Some of the reasons why someone’s L-arginine levels aren’t as high as they should be included:
- Consuming a vegetarian/vegan diet deficient in full protein
- Having digestive issues that make it difficult to absorb protein
- Free radicals produce high amounts of oxidative stress (due to diet, stress, or pollution)
- Aspects of genetics
What foods contain a lot of arginines? L-arginine may be found in almost every high-protein diet, although the denser protein sources are the better.
Focus on eating a diet rich in whole, genuine foods, particularly “clean” protein sources that supply a complete variety of amino acids, to naturally assist your body to generate and utilize more L-arginine and nitric oxide.
Complete proteins are the best since they include L-arginine and all of the other amino acids required for muscle tissue development and optimal neurotransmitter activity.
Fish captured in the wild, such as nutrient-dense salmon, is a particularly good option since, in addition to L-arginine, it also contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids that aid cardiovascular health.
If you’re a vegetarian or have a lactose sensitivity, you may receive additional L-arginine by eating nuts, seeds, coconut products, sea vegetables, or whole grains and legumes in moderation.
The following foods are rich in arginine:
- Eggs from cage-free hens
- Cultured yogurt, kefir, and raw cheeses are examples of dairy products (choose organic and raw dairy whenever possible)
- Grass-fed cattle or meat, as well as poultry, is grown on pasture (including turkey and chicken)
- Meats from the liver and organs (such as chicken liver pate)
- Wild-caught fish
- Seeds of sesame
- Seeds from pumpkins
- Sunflower seeds are a kind of sunflower.
- Sea veggies and seaweed
- Nuts from Brazil
- Meat from the coconut
Dosage of Supplements
While it’s usually ideal to receive nutrients from natural food sources whenever feasible, L-arginine is also available as an over-the-counter and prescription medicine, including in the form of capsules and pills, as well as L-arginine power.
Because many individuals acquire enough of this amino acid from their meals alone, it is termed “semi-essential.”
Doctors may prescribe high L-arginine dosages in combination with other supplements for a variety of illnesses, including heart disease, migraines, and infections – or even to treat diabetes, HIV, or cancer side effects.
Citrulline, ornithine, and arginase are some of the other supplements that are often used with arginine. For example, L-arginine is converted to L-ornithine and urea by arginase, while agmatine is a chemical compound produced naturally by arginine.
The recommended dose of L-arginine supplements is highly dependent on the ailment being treated.
For example, three to six grams per day (split into two doses) may be used to assist in treating cardiac issues or erectile dysfunction. In comparison, dosages of up to nine grams per day are relatively unusual for improving exercise performance.
A daily dosage of roughly one gram (1,000 mg) is normally suggested for generally healthy persons who want to reduce inflammation and improve circulation.
Higher dosages certainly increase the danger of adverse effects, and some study suggests that when it comes to L-activities arginine’s inside blood vessel walls, more isn’t necessarily better.
- L-arginine is an amino acid that we get through our meals, particularly animal protein sources, including beef and other red meats, chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
- According to research, arginine has been found to enhance heart health, decrease inflammation, battle the effects of aging, increase exercise performance, improve immunity, assist avoid infections, speed up healing, and cure erectile dysfunction and infertility.
- Everyone creates some L-arginine on their own, although the amount varies depending on age, inflammation level, heart and artery condition, gender, food quality, and heredity. For example, eating a vegetarian/vegan diet low in protein sources, having poor digestive health that makes metabolizing protein difficult, high levels of oxidative stress caused by free radicals (due to diet, stress, or pollution), smoking, and genetic factors are some of the reasons why someone might not produce optimal levels of L-arginine.
- Focus on eating a diet rich in whole, genuine foods, particularly “clean” protein sources that supply a complete variety of amino acids, to naturally assist your body in generating and utilizing more L-arginine and nitric oxide.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
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