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L-arginine is an amino acid with its primary metabolic role being within the biochemical pathway that metabolises nitrogen and protein. In our body L-arginine is converted to Nitric oxide (NO) which mediates many physiological processes including relaxation of blood vessels, immune responses, and neurotransmission. It also plays vital role in various biochemical functions including; memory, attention, normal sexual function, lungs, kidneys and liver by enhancing blood flow.
Arginine helps the arteries inner lining to produce nitric oxide which plays a role in the regulation of blood flow and blood pressure, and helps keep blood platelets free from clumping or aggregation.
L-arginine is converted in our body to Nitric oxide and therefore it helps relaxing and dilating arteries in our heart and brain thus reducing risk of heart attacks and strokes. Regarding this benefit, one researcher stated that „by converting into nitric-oxide (vasodilator), the amino acid, l-arginine, has changed the paradigms of cardiovascular health forever”.
Scientists at the Scientific Institute of San Raffaele in Milan, Italy, evaluated the effects of arginine supplementation on non-diabetic patients with cardiovascular disease. According to this research published in Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, it was determined that arginine supplements increase NO production, reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular function.
L-arginine is regarded as one of the most vital amino acids for athletes as it plays crucial role in blood circulation through the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator which enhances blood flow. It is very helpful for athletes as it helps to normalise blood pressure, increase blood flow to the brain and muscles oxygenating and empowering them and providing more nutrients they need to improve endurance. L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormones and the breakdown of lipids promoting muscle growth and fat burning. In addition, L-arginine assists in the creation of creatine - another amino acid which is very important for athletes.
Sexual stimulation causes activity in the nervous system which, in turn, causes local release of nitric oxide in the genitals. This stimulates a substance called cGMP that increases blood flow in sex organs causing sexual arousal. L-arginine is required for the production of nitric oxide which is responsible for the male erection. The arteries supplying blood to the genitals depend on nitric oxide to allow them to relax and induce proper blood flow. The drug VIAGRA also works through a mechanism that increases nitric oxide production in these arteries.
Arginine has been shown to increase sperm count and motility. It may be helpful in infertility especially when combined with vitamin C, acetyl l-carnitine, and antioxidants particularly alpha lipoic acid, pycnogenol and/or grape seed extract (resveratrol).
L-arginine has been known to help increase progesterone levels and stimulate the secretion of various important hormones including hypothalamic corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), pituitary growth hormone, prolactin, insulin, glucagon, pancreozymin and polypeptide, somatostatin, aldosterone, and adrenal catecholamines.
L-arginine and some other amino acids including L-tyrosine, L-glutamine and L-glycine are believed to be important for thyroid health and may help improve thyroid function.
Arginine is required for insulin production and for maintaining a healthy blood sugar levels. It appears to inhibit fat absorption and can be even more beneficial in weight control when combined with ornithine.
Research suggests that L-arginine may have a beneficial effect on airway hyper-responsiveness and airway inflammation in hay fever.
Arginine shown to elevate growth hormone and creatine synthesis.
Arginine supports urea and ammonia detoxification.
L-arginine supplements are not recommended in cases of schizophrenia or herpes infection (cold sores). Also if you are on medication, consult your doctor before taking L-arginine.
Arginine should be taken with amino acid Lysine which prevents arginine from contributing to cold sores. Lysine can help correct the imbalances (excess dietary arginine) leading to herpes. Studies show that lysine supplements help prevent breakouts and reduce the intensity of flare-ups.
Ornithine is a precursor of arginine and when taken orally, should have a similar effect as l-arginine.
500mg-5000mg daily. For maximum effect don’t take arginine with a meal high in protein as it will have to compete with them for absorption. Take it ideally about 30 minutes before a meal.
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.