L-arginine: Benefits, side effects, dosage and diet


L-arginine is an amino acid that helps the body make protein. It can be obtained naturally from food and also in the form of dietary supplements. Foods rich in L-arginine include plant and animal proteins such as dairy, meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.

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L-Arginine also helps remove ammonia (waste products) from the body and stimulates the release of insulin. Also, your body uses arginine to make nitric oxide (a compound that relaxes blood vessels). While some research suggests that L-arginine may be beneficial in certain health conditions, other research suggests that L-arginine may have harmful effects in some people.

What is L-arginine used for?

Some proponents of improving blood flow in the body claim that L-arginine can help with heart conditions such as chest pain (angina), high blood pressure , leg cramps, and weakness due to blocked arteries (a condition known as claudication. intermittent). erectile dysfunction (ED).

Some people use L-arginine to strengthen the immune system , improve athletic performance, shorten recovery time after surgery, and reduce weight. L-Arginine is also used in bodybuilding.

There is also some evidence that L-arginine can help with interstitial cystitis and pre-eclampsia.

There are currently several clinical trials testing the potential benefits of L-arginine. Here are some of the findings from the available research:

erectile dysfunction

Some studies have investigated whether L-arginine supplements can benefit men with erectile dysfunction , also known as ED. L-arginine is believed to increase nitric oxide and, in turn, relaxes the muscles surrounding the blood vessels that supply the penis. As a result, the blood vessels in the penis dilate, increasing blood flow, which can help maintain an erection.

In a 2017 study published in the journal Andrology , for example, levels of L-arginine and L-citrulline (another amino acid) were measured in people with erectile dysfunction. The researchers found that the levels of both amino acids were lower in men with erectile dysfunction than in men without erectile dysfunction .

Several small studies have examined the use of L-arginine in combination with French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) .

Heart disease

Early proponents suggested that L-arginine may protect the heart and benefit people with heart disease; however, a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that arginine did not improve blood vessel stiffness or heart function in people in their 60s. . or older who have taken arginine in combination with standard treatment after a heart attack. Furthermore, the researchers found that “arginine may be associated with increased post-infarction mortality.

Additional research published in 2016 shows that arginine supplementation can increase the risk of heart disease. Until we know more, L-arginine supplements cannot be recommended for treating heart disease .

Diet therapy

Intake of L-arginine in combination with omega-3 fatty acids and nucleotides has been studied to shorten recovery time, protect against infection, and accelerate wound healing after surgery . The supplement has also been used in combination with other supplements to increase muscle mass. body weight in people with cancer .

Possible side effects.

L-arginine can cause a number of side effects, including indigestion, nausea, headache, bloating, diarrhea, gout, blood abnormalities, allergies, inflammation of the airways, worsening of asthma symptoms, decreased insulin sensitivity and low blood pressure .

Higher doses of L-arginine can increase stomach acidity, so it can also worsen heartburn, ulcers, or drug-induced digestive upset. Also, L-arginine can make symptoms worse in people with herpes.

L-arginine can interact with certain medications, such as blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, or medications used to treat erectile dysfunction. If you have diabetes or heart disease, avoid taking L-arginine. Some studies have shown that chronic L-arginine supplementation can reduce insulin sensitivity, while others have found no effect or increased insulin sensitivity.

Like many supplements, L-arginine has not been tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, or people with medical conditions or taking medications.

Dosage and preparation

There is no standard recommended dosage for L-arginine. The right dose for you may depend on factors such as your age, gender, and medical history.

Various doses of L-arginine have been studied in studies examining its effects in various conditions. For example, for chest pain, a dose of 2 to 6 grams was used three times a day for a month. For erectile dysfunction, a dose of five grams per day was used. High blood pressure studies have used a dose of 4 to 24 grams per day for 2 to 24 weeks .

Talk to your doctor for personalized advice.

Diet and interactions

In most cases, the body maintains an adequate supply of L-arginine on its own. However, severe burns, infections, and injuries can deplete the body’s arginine stores. Under these conditions, it is necessary to ensure correct consumption to meet the highest requirements .

L-arginine is found in the foods you eat, such as red meat, poultry, fish, lentils, and dairy products. Try adding more chicken, turkey, lean cuts of beef, soybeans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, lentils, lobster, shrimp, spinach, or seaweed to your diet.

Due to evolving research on the relationship between L-arginine and heart disease , avoid taking L-arginine supplements unless you first consult with your doctor about the potential benefits and risks.

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