L-arginine: Your search for the ultimate fitness booster ends here


Last Updated June 24th, 2019

What is L-arginine?

L-arginine is an amino acid necessary for the body to perform various functions.  It is essential in producing proteins, which are essential for the normal functioning of the body.  It is produced by the human body, but in low quantities and hence is considered to be a semi-essential amino acid.  

The general source of L-arginine is through the diet we eat. Any diet consisting of protein contains L-arginine. L-arginine is abundant in plants, dairy products, red meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.  The main function of L-arginine begins when it gets converted to nitric oxide chemical.

Nitric oxide has the ability to widen the blood vessels and promotes adequate blood flow in the blood vessels. It is helpful in releasing insulin as well as growth hormones in the body. It is helpful for numerous health benefits.

What are the major health benefits of L-arginine?

Reduces Blood Pressure

There are numerous factors affecting blood pressure.  When there is not enough space for the blood to flow, it causes pressure to rise and leads to a condition called high blood pressure or hypertension.  One of the main functions of L-Arginine is when it gets converted to a chemical called nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is essential in widening the blood vessels and promoting blood flow.  It also improves exercise tolerance in patients suffering from angina and helps them to lead a more active lifestyle. Studies have shown that people suffering from congestive heart failure seem to have lower levels of L-Arginine.  It is important to have a sufficient amount of this amino acid for the body to produce nitric oxide and help in the process of blood flow. This would help in reducing the risks of high blood pressure as well as atherosclerosis.

Diabetes

There are several people who are affected by diabetes.  Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to several medical issues such as vision problems, kidney damage, liver damage, etc.  Diabetes may be caused due to several factors and one of them being the abnormal secretion of insulin in the body. L-Arginine is known to release insulin at appropriate levels.  This helps to break down the blood sugar present in the bloodstream and control diabetes. Due to this property, L-Arginine supplements are widely used by many all over the world.

Antioxidant effect

The general function of antioxidants is to clear up the free radicals present in the body, which reduces the oxidative stress.  L-Arginine is known to activate the SOD protein, which reduces the oxidative process and clears up the free radicals from the body.  The chemical nitric oxide produced by L-Arginine further reduces the oxidative stress and due to these factors, L-Arginine acts as an antioxidant and minimizes the damage caused by reactive oxygen organisms.

Reduces Triglycerides

Triglycerides are the excess fat that is stored in the body.  These stored fats are broken down by the hormones to again produce energy essential for the body.  A high concentration of triglycerides may lead to several health problems. L-Arginine has the ability to break up these triglycerides more rapidly.  This reduces the levels of triglycerides and reduces the risk associated with triglycerides.

Increases Immunity

A healthy immune system is directly linked to overall health.  L-Arginine is helpful in promoting the function of the immune system by increasing the nitric oxide level.  This helps the immune system to fight the pathogens and provide immediate assistance. It is important to add this amino acid through diet to improve the functioning of the immune system.  

Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is a response to stress.  It is generally the feeling of fear associated with oncoming doom.  L-Arginine is helpful in preventing anxiety symptoms by releasing the necessary hormones to suppress the feeling of anxiety.  Studies have indicated that people having adequate L-Arginine levels are able to combat anxiety situations more easily as compared to others who have low levels.

Promotes wound healing

A wound that is caused by either surgery or due to an injury can take time to heal.  There are situations when the wound might get infected and causes serious scar formation.  L-arginine is known to increase the wound healing process by the production of nitric oxide, which increases collagen production.  Nitric oxide is helpful in promoting the blood flow to the wound and reduces the time taken to heal. This property of L-Arginine helps a great deal in promoting wound healing and reducing the recovery time.

Erectile dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition when a man is unable to retain the erection for a sufficient amount of time during a sexual encounter.  There are several factors contributing to this problem including inadequate blood supply to the penis as well as other factors. L-Arginine is helpful in dealing with this problem.  Since L-Arginine gets converted to nitric oxide, it helps in the adequate blood supply to the penis, which helps both with erectile dysfunction as well as infertility. An adequate amount of blood flow helps in maintaining the erection sufficient enough during the sexual encounter.

Improves Memory

There are short-term memories as well as long-term memories.  Short-term memory is essential in daily activities of life whereas long time memories bring back the old memories, which we can cherish.  As a person becomes old, the ability of a person to remember things becomes difficult. It is believed that a low level of nitric oxide can cause this problem.  L-Arginine supplements are useful to treat this problem by increasing the level of nitric oxide and promote a better memory.

Are there any side-effects?

Consuming them through natural sources causes no side effects.  The supplements are generally safe for people when consumed in moderation.  There are some side effects associated with L-Arginine supplementation. Studies have indicated that it promotes the growth of the herpes virus and hence can exacerbate the condition.  Hence it is highly recommended to avoid by people affected by herpes. People who are allergic to L-Arginine may experience an allergic reaction and may have symptoms of stomach pain, bloating, as well as diarrhea.

There are instances recorded that it can reduce the blood pressure levels in people who already have low blood pressure.  It also increases the levels of potassium, which can lead to a medical condition called hyperkalemia. Hyperkalemia may lead to several other health problems such as irregular heartbeat.

Finally, it is advised to stop the consumption of this supplement well before a planned surgery in order to avoid the risk of excessive bleeding during surgery.  It is suggested that the supplements should be stopped at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.

Dietary sources of L-arginine

There are several natural sources of L-Arginine, which can be consumed in the daily diet.  These include eggs, yogurt, cheese, kefir, red meat, turkey, chicken, chicken liver, fish, Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds, spirulina, etc.

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