6 Incredible Benefits of Arginine (L-Arginine)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The consumption of arginine is an essential part of any healthy diet, although the need for supplementation depends on your individual health status, so knowing all the details is important.

What is Arginine?

Arginine (L-Arginine) is considered a semi-essential amino acid in the body and is instrumental in the synthesis of proteins that affect a wide variety of metabolic processes in the body. This amino acid changes to nitric oxide (NO) that has many benefits. Unlike some other amino acids, the body’s need for this nutrient changes based on your stage in the life cycle, and your specific health conditions. During major developmental phases in infancy and childhood, the body is unable to produce adequate amounts of arginine, requiring a diet that is high in foods with this amino acid. Later in life, the body can synthesize arginine from glutamine, and consider that this amino acid is found in every form of dietary protein, it is relatively easy to access sufficient amounts of this nutrient in a balanced diet.

For those with specific health conditions, however, it may be necessary to supplement the body with this compound. This amino acid is critical to many aspects of health, from maintaining optimal health to weight loss, so there are plenty of reasons why your doctor may recommend boosting your health with arginine supplements.

A tablet showing the chemical equation for arginine with a stethoscope next to it

If you have a well-balanced diet, you probably get enough arginine from the foods you eat. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Arginine Benefits

There are myriad benefits of arginine in the body, including the following:

  • Remedying hypertension problems
  • Boosting muscle development
  • Soothing inflammatory conditions
  • Increasing circulation
  • Boosting immunity

Let us discuss them in detail below.

Hypertension

As an important precursor to nitric oxide, this amino acid is closely linked to blood pressure and cardiovascular risk. By reducing the strain in blood vessels and arteries, you lower the risk of atherosclerosis, as well as coronary heart disease and stroke.

Angina

If you are someone who suffers from angina, your doctor may recommend supplementing with this amino acid, as it can help to rectify vascular function and protect your overall heart health.

Bodybuilding

When you have proper levels of this compound in your body, your body’s production of growth hormone will be stimulated. This means that the impact of your workouts will be more noticeable, and muscle growth will be boosted. For bodybuilders, this is a very common amino acid supplement to get better results from their efforts.

Circulation

Studies have found that this amino acid is critical to optimizing circulation in the body. This results in better oxygenation to muscle and organ groups, including the male reproductive system. For that reason, this supplement has been known as a libido-booster, as it can increase sex drive and prevent erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Immune System

This amino acid affects countless systems in the body, including the immune system; in fact, supplementation with arginine is linked to better defense against the vulnerability of the body to various infections and pathogens.

Inflammatory Conditions

To increase circulation and regulate immune function, some people are quick to take arginine, as it is known to minimize the effects of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, gout, and migraine headaches. Reducing the healing time of injuries is yet another reason why this amino acid is so sought after by athletes and bodybuilders, among others.

Arginine Foods

Most people acquire more than enough of this amino acid in their regular diet, but if you want to boost your intake, try foods such as:

And any other food that contains protein. There isn’t an exact recommendation on how much arginine a person should consume on a daily basis, although there are certain limitations for supplementation. Most prescriptions or recommendations for arginine supplements range from 1-4 grams, consumed three times per day. Before adding this type of supplement to your diet, however, it is best to speak with your doctor, particularly if you are already taking other medications.

Arginine Side Effects

There are a number of side effects to taking these amino acid supplements, such as gastrointestinal problems, allergic reactions, complications with kidney disease and low blood pressure, among others.

  • Stomach Issues: When you add this supplement to your daily or weekly regiment, it can cause various stomach issues, including bloating, cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Stop using the supplement and speak to your doctor if this occurs.
  • Hypotension: Due to the effect that arginine can have on blood pressure, if you are taking an excessive amount, or if you are already on hypertension medication, use of this supplement can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
  • Kidney Disease: You should not consume this supplement if you suffer from kidney disease, as it can actually exacerbate the problem by overloading the system with potassium.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although this is rare, some people may experience allergic reactions, such as swelling of the respiratory pathways and rashes or hives.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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