Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and L-arginine (or arginine) is an essential type of amino acid. Amino acids are derived from protein foods, especially from animal sources such as red meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs, and fish.
L-arginine is formed naturally in proteins that contain all the essential amino acids needed by our body and can also be created in the laboratory to produce supplements that are beneficial to the heart, mental capabilities, exercise performance among others.
How Does L-arginine Works?
Though L-arginine is not an essential amino acid because the body cannot produce it on its own except sources outside, it is still vital because many functions of our body need it; however, it is always in low quantities, especially in older people.
A considerable advantage of using arginine is its ability to enhance the flow and circulation of blood in the body. The arginine is converted into Nitric Oxide, causing blood vessels to be more widely opened. And this comes with other benefits such as fertility, improving the function of the immune systems, detoxifying the body and brain power. Also, L-arginine helps to stimulate the production of some hormones in the body, especially growth hormone and insulin that push glucose into cells to be used for growth and energy output. And this is why arginine is believed to improve physical strength, performance, and stamina.
Other benefits of L-arginine include:
- Arginine helps to fight inflammation
- Arginine repairs the blood vessels
- It helps to lower high blood pressure
- It reduces arteriosclerosis risk and heart attack
- It also fights coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure
- It increases the function of the immune system
- It enhances kidney function
- It improves athletic performance
- It reduces pains in the muscles (especially in the legs caused by blocked arteries)
- L-arginine fight dementia
- L-arginine prevents the common cold
- L-arginine improves mental capacity
- L-arginine corrects infertility, impotence and erectile dysfunction in males
Furthermore, L-arginine helps in understanding how nitric oxide (NO) works in the body. Nitric Oxide is a type of reactive natural gas produced by both plants and animals. Formed through the synthase of L-arginine and nitric oxide with L-arginine as its precursor, and it is a by-product of various chemical reactions. The endothelial cells lining the inside of all blood vessels needs L-arginine to produce enough nitric oxide that will ensure free flowing of blood.
Nitric oxide improves circulation of blood by dialing blood vessels; people are at a higher risk of heart disease when the blood in their arteries is not enough. Nitric Oxide maintains the level of your blood vessel within a reasonable range. It does this by signaling the muscle of the blood vessels to relax, expand and allow the passage of blood and also prevents the formation of clots and plague.
According to research, as a person gets older, there is a decrease in his or her ability to produce Nitric Oxide in the artery lining, but fortunately, such a person can improve nitric oxide capabilities and correct damaged endothelial function by obtaining more L-arginine, either through supplement arginine or dietary arginine.
Also, a rat study conducted at the Medical Center’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics of the University of Mississippi, where urinary nitrate/nitrite excretory rates and serum L-arginine levels were measured in male Sprague Dawley rats between the ages of 3 and 25 months. Testing the hypothesis that excreting nitric oxide metabolites, nitrate and nitrite decreases as rats age and that a reduction of nitric oxide precursor L-arginine also decreases with aging. Researchers discovered that the level of or arginine decrease with aging which in turn affected the production of Nitric Oxide.
The advantage of L-arginine is beyond just the production of Nitric Oxide which helps in circulation. It has other important roles such as signaling the nerve, replicating cell and fighting oxidative stress that results in disease and sign of aging.
5 Benefits of L-arginine
1. Improves the Health of the Heart
Research has shown that L-arginine helps to reduce and improve the health of the blood vessels and cardiovascular systems and this gives the reason why oral arginine is among the popular supplements cardiologists do recommend people that are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease. L-arginine supplements can be used to prevent heart attack or stroke. L-arginine improves cardiovascular health by helping to prevent high blood pressure, improve the flow of blood in people that have clogged arteries (coronary arteries diseases), reduces high cholesterol, relieve congestive heart failure, improve stamina and reduce symptoms that cut off blood flow from the heart to the limbs (claudication).
L-arginine is also commonly used to treat chest pain due to the effects of nitric oxide which prevent blood clots (thrombosis) which cut off blood supply. Taking two to three grams of L-arginine supplements per day has been proven to resolve nitrate intolerance in most people with angina as revealed by some studies. Lastly, arginine can enhance exercise performance in people suffering from circulation problems, low stamina and people suffering from heart disease.
2. Reduces Inflammation and Fights Aging Effects
A primary benefit of L-arginine is that it fights diseases that cause inflammation and raises the function of the immune system. It has been discovered that L-arginine has significant free radical-scavenging abilities because of its effect on the enzyme known as Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) and other antioxidant mechanisms. It is most times combined with other antioxidants like vitamin C and omega-3 fish oil supplements which help to slow down aging processes and prevent many chronic diseases.
L-arginine also has positive effects on both the functions of the immune system and the central nervous system since the nitric oxide in the brain acts as a neurotransmitter and protective agent against threats from outside. It helps to detoxify the body, and it is sometimes used to treat people with metabolic problems and damage to the urethra to reduce the presence of ammonia in the blood.
Ammonia (ammonium hydroxide) is a product of proteins broken down by the body and one of the causes of necrosis of tissues that can lead to destruction and inflammation of cells.
3. It Boosts Exercise Performance
L-arginine effectively improves the flow of blood by helping to bring oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and joint tissues. With L-arginine, you can derive more benefits from exercise with less pain. It can also be used to increase heat and circulation to damaged joints or cold hands and feet, especially in people that have other health complications, like the reduced flow of blood for diabetes or arthritis.
L-arginine has been discovered to be helpful for people suffering from painful intermittent claudication (narrowing of blood vessels in the feet and legs caused by fatty deposits) by improving their walking and lowering pains in the muscle. Other benefits of L-arginine are helping to increase the production of human growth hormone, prolactin and several amino acids, including creatine, L-proline, and L-glutamate. It improves the sensitivity of insulin by allowing glucose to enter the cells. They play a vital role in metabolic health by helping to build healthy muscle tissue, fight inflammation that causes joint and bone pain, repair injuries and general function of the nervous system.
Studies have shown that taking five to nine grams of L-arginine supplement per day can increase the level of growth hormone substantially. Because of its effect on the capillaries in the body L-arginine supplement helps to build stronger muscle even at your resting state. These changes on the hormone have positive effects on your metabolism by helping to repair, develop and maintain the youthful foundation of the skeletal muscle system.
4. Prevent Infection, speed up Healing Process and Improve Immunity
It has been discovered that people suffering from cancer, trauma, and illnesses have low L-arginine in circulation in their body. The belief is that there are some cells (called MSCs) that suppress the immune system which could cause the deficiency of arginine or low level of arginine circulation in the blood. It could cause problems because lymphocytes and T-cells which protect the immune system make use of arginine to defend the body.
L-arginine, omega-3 fish oil, and other supplements are used to reduce infection risk (especially respiratory infections or lungs problems) as well as to improve wound healing, reduce recovery time following cancer, illness or surgery. L-arginine can be added to topical ointment used for treating wounds to enhance free flowing of blood, fight against pain and swelling, forms L-proline, which is an essential agent for collagen systems in the skin and increase antioxidant activity.
Using L-arginine also helps to improve the function of the protein to heal burns and could help in fighting against cavities and tooth decay. Also, because of its enhancing effect on the immune system, L-arginine is commonly administered to people undergoing chemotherapy or healing from viruses, infections, and surgeries.
5. Helps in Treating Erectile Dysfunction and Infertility
Studies have shown that L-arginine helps in the process of replicating cells together with enhancing the circulation of blood to help improve the production of sperm and its mobility. Men who have cardiovascular problems due to low levels of nitric oxide in the body are at a higher risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction and fertility issues because an erection needs muscles to be relaxed which is triggered by nitric oxide. Though it may not work for all men, L-arginine supplements combined with other antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and dilators have been used to treat male infertility significantly.
Some studies suggest that a high level of stress can lower the production of sperm. Combining L-arginine, L-glutamate and yohimbine hydrochloride is mostly used for the treatment of ED, and it works better than using L-arginine alone.
Also, women can benefit from using L-arginine which is helpful for reproduction. There are times doctors prescribe topical creams that contain L-arginine for healing sexual problems and treat infertility naturally in both men and women because it improves circulation to genital tissue.
Moreover, some researchers have suggested that using L-arginine and N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) are suitable for natural balancing of the hormones and restoring normal sexual function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome and estrogens imbalances. While other studies are of the opinion that using L-arginine with herbs like chaste berry, green tea extract, and antioxidant supplements improve chances of getting pregnant in women struggling to conceive.
Are You Getting Enough L-arginine?
Every human can produce a certain level of L-arginine, but how much you can produce is dependent on some factors like age, heart condition, arteries, gender, quality of your diet, level of inflammation and genetics. Eating a vegetarian food that is low complete protein is one of the reasons a person might produce enough L-arginine while a high level of oxidative stress causes free radicals, poor digestive health that makes it difficult to metabolize protein, smoking and genetic factors are other reasons.
Eat a diet that contains a lot of whole real foods, especially good sources of protein that will provide enough amino acids to increase the level of L-arginine production in your body naturally.
Complete proteins are extremely beneficial because they supply L-arginine and also provide other acids needed for the muscle tissue growth and proper neurotransmitter function. Fish like salmon is an excellent source because it supplies anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids together with L-arginine which also help in maintaining cardiovascular health.
Other sources to obtain L-arginine apart from animal sources include eating nuts, seeds, coconut products, sea vegetables or whole grains moderately. Foods that are high in protein gives L-arginine, while foods with lower protein sources are better.
Some of the best natural sources of L-arginine include:
- Dairy products like yogurt, Kefir, and raw cheeses
- Liver and organ meats such as chicken liver pate
- Cage-free eggs
- Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Walnut, Almonds, Coconut meat and Brazil nut
- Spirulina, grass-fed beef or meat
L-arginine Dosage and Side Effects
Though natural foods are the best sources to get nutrients for our body, L-arginine is also obtained from over the counter. There are times that doctors will prescribe high doses of L-arginine together with other supplements for different conditions such as heart disease, migraines, and infections or the treatment of side effects of diabetes and cancer. Citrulline, ornithine, and arginase which convert L-arginine to L-ornithine and urea are other supplements that can be used with plasma arginine.
The condition L-arginine is used for determines its dosage. For example, three to six grams daily in two doses can be used to treat heart conditions or erectile dysfunction while less than nine grams per day is the usual doses for exercise performance.
One gram per day is the recommended dosage for healthy adults who want to prevent inflammation and have better circulation. Taking higher doses usually has its own risk.
Interactions and Side Effects
In fact, using L-arginine is good because it is a natural amino acid, but it still has some side effects. It is better to consult with your doctor first before using L-arginine supplement if you have a history of low blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems, heart disease or an active virus like herpes.
L-arginine consumed from natural foods is not harmful but taking a high dose could aggravate your condition, especially if it is taken with other supplements or medications. Consult your doctor to know the dosage that works for you and the side-effects are minimal.
You can still experience some short-term side effect like diarrhea, gout, bloating, asthma, abdominal pain, and low blood pressure if you take one gram per day as a healthy adult. Likewise, asthmatic patients or people that are allergic should use L-arginine carefully as it tends to cause allergic reactions or increased swelling in the lungs and airways. Lastly, L-arginine can be used by pregnant women and children, but still, the dosage to use should be controlled by your doctor.
- Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and L-arginine (or arginine) is an essential type of amino acid. Amino acids are derived from protein foods, especially from animal sources such as red meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs, and fish.
- Every human can produce a certain level of L-arginine, but how much you can produce is dependent on some factors like age, heart condition, arteries, gender, quality of your diet, level of inflammation and genetics.
- Eating a vegetarian diet that is low in complete protein is one of the reasons a person might not produce enough L-arginine while a high level of oxidative stress causes free radicals, poor digestive health that makes it difficult to metabolize protein, smoking, and genetic factors are other reasons.
- Eat a diet that contains a lot of whole real foods, especially good sources of protein that will provide enough amino acids to increase the level of L-arginine production in your body naturally.
Why choose Health Labs Nutra L-arginine
With a 1,200mg proprietary blend of premium L-Arginine, Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate and L-Citrulline per veggie cap, our nitric acid booster is one of the most potent L-Arginine supplements available and is made in our state-of-the-art, FDA-approved facility and proudly manufactured in the United States.
Unlike other supplements on the market, our nitric oxide stack contains absolutely no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors and is vegan-friendly. It also contains no soy, wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar or yeast.