L-arginine, also referred to as arginine, is a non-essential amino acid that is commonly sold to be ingested, inhaled or injected as a supplement. L-arginine is classified as a non-essential nutrient due to the fact that the body can produce enough of it on its own.
Arginine can be found naturally from both plant and animal sources. Plant sources include flax seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, raw lentils, raw onion and tofu. Animal sources include tuna, raw shrimp, raw egg white and yolk, whole milk, Atlantic salmon and pork.
Benefits and uses of L-arginine
Research has shown that L-arginine boosts the activity of the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH stimulates cell production, growth and cell regeneration. It is naturally produced and secreted by the pituitary gland. Arginine works to increase the release of HGH by suppressing the growth hormone inhibiting hormone (GHIH) somatostatin.
Studies are still underway on the use of L-arginine on women who are suffering from preeclampsia during pregnancy. So far, results are promising on the use of arginine in aiding fetal growth.
Dosages of L-arginine that are less than 3 grams have been shown to have the least effects. However, the starting dose for taking arginine is between two and five grams. It is worth noting that arginine dosages work best in young and fit individuals. The peak HGH responses have occurred in those who have low body fat composition and high aerobic capacity.
Acts as a vasodilator
L-arginine acts a powerful vasodilator and has been noted to be useful in the treatment of congestive heart failure, chest pain, coronary artery disease, erectile dysfunction, vascular headaches, clogged arteries and peripheral vascular disease.
In its actions as a vasodilator, arginine as a supplement may improve blood flow and help reduce blood pressure. Individuals suffering from blood clots can find relief after ingesting arginine as a supplement.
Removal of waste products in the body
One of the uses of arginine in the body is in the production of urea or ammonia which is a by-product of protein breakdown in the body. The production of urea is essential in the body as it enables the body to get rid of excess nitrogen created during the process of protein breakdown. Arginine assists the body to regulate the removal of waste material as well as regulate chemical balances.
Creation of creatine
In addition to the regulation of waste material, arginine helps the body to create a protein known as creatine that contributes to muscle power and mass. Arginine is also useful in getting rid of the waste product creatinine, a byproduct of the process of creatine muscle building.
Aids in healing
One of the greatest arginine benefits are found in its healing properties. Individuals who are suffering from severe burns, wasting diseases and malnutrition can find relief and lower their risk of acquiring infection or other complications related to their ailments.
Aids in sexual functioning
L-arginine has been known to improve sexual functioning through its actions as a vasodilator which ensures that there is sufficient blood flow to the genital area in both men and women.
Side Effects of Arginine
As with any other supplement or drug, L-arginine may also cause some side effects. One of the most alarming potential side effects are those involving the organs involved in the body’s waste disposal. This is due to the fact that arginine affects the manner in which the body handles waste. Some individuals can therefore suffer from some kidney and liver problems.
Another alarming potential side effect involves the circulatory system. Those who are recovering from surgery are advised not to take arginine as they may suffer excessive bleeding due to its actions as a vasodilator.
Anaphylaxis is also a severe potential side effect of arginine intake. Some individuals may suffer from a severe allergic reaction that may result in shock. Anaphylactic symptoms include experiencing sudden chills, tremors, sweating, vomiting, hives and diarrhea, light headedness and shortness of breath. All symptoms are experienced simultaneously and can end in the death of an individual.
Other symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps
- Potassium imbalance
In conclusion, arginine should be ingested, inhaled or injected with caution in patients who are anemic or those who have just undergone surgery due to its actions as a vasodilator. L-arginine is known for boosting the human growth hormone and assist patients who are suffering from wasting diseases. It is also known to improve blood flow and has been used to provide patients suffering from blood clots.