L-Arginine : Sources and Health benefits
What is L-Arginine?
L-Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid, meaning that the body can generally generate it and is only required from food sources during periods of disease, infancy, pregnancy, stress, or trauma. In the body, proteins are created from amino acids, aiding tissue repair and muscular growth. L-arginine’s sources, dose, adverse effects, health benefits, risks, and drug interactions are all covered in this article.
- The body absorbs l-arginine through the small intestine.
- Our body can also produce arginine from citrulline, especially in the kidneys.
- The liver and small intestine both work to break it down.
- L-arginine is utilized by the body to make creatine, ornithine, urea, and nitric oxide.
What does L-arginine do?
L-arginine helps our body to
- Build protein.
- Promotes wound healing.
- Improves immune system performance.
- It enables the kidneys to remove waste.
- Promotes the synthesis of insulin.
- Increases cells’ sensitivity to insulin.
- Increases blood flow.
Sources of L-Arginine
The following are some foods sources that contain L-arginine :
- Animal source – Turkey, pork, chicken.
- Fish – salmon, haddock.
- L-arginine fruits – dried apricots, grape juice, watermelon, Gogi berries dried, bananas, pomegranates.
- Vegetables – onions, spinach, peas, Brussels sprouts
- Legumes – Soybeans, chickpeas, beans.
- Nuts – Peanuts, almonds, cashews.
- Seeds – Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds.
- Dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt.
- Whole grains –brown rice, oats, corn.
- Lentils and spirulina.
Dosage of L-Arginine
L-Arginine supplements are usually available in the form of
- Medical professionals can also provide them as IV injections administered into the veins. One may get these supplements online, at pharmacies, supplement shops, and grocery stores.
L-arginine does not come with a specific dosage guideline. A doctor determines the dosage based on the person’s age, lifestyle, food, body weight, and overall health.
- 4 to 5 grams per day are the usual dietary intake.
- Taking L-arginine between meals will ensure optimum absorption.
- It takes 20 minutes after the intake to start working.
To discover the dosage best suitable for a given issue, consult a healthcare practitioner.
Health Benefits of L-Arginine
L-Arginine health benefits are many and as follows:
- Regulates blood sugar
- Reduces high blood pressure
- Improves heart health
- Helps with migraines
- Manages erectile dysfunction
- Treats and prevents preeclampsia
- Treats peripheral arterial disease
Regulates blood sugar
- L-arginine supplementation can improve glucose levels and regulates insulin production and insulin sensitivity in the cells of type 2 diabetic patients.
Reduces high blood pressure
- L-arginine can reduce blood pressure in both hypertensive patients and healthy individuals. Additionally, it makes blood vessel walls work better.
Improves heart health
- A study demonstrated that l-arginine derived from plant sources could assist in controlling blood pressure and preventing coronary heart diseases (CHD)
- It may also aid those suffering from mild to severe angina in reducing their symptoms and improve their quality of life. ,
Helps with migraines
- L-arginine and aged garlic extract may reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
Manages erectile dysfunction
- Supplementing with L-arginine alone can help with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction
- Daily L-Arginine 2,500 mg, along with Tadalafil 5 mg, was proven beneficial in treating mild to severe erectile dysfunction in research.
Treats and prevents preeclampsia
- Studies have found L-arginine supplements to assist high-risk pregnancies in avoiding preeclampsia.
- Pregnant women with preeclampsia can lower their blood pressure by receiving L-arginine intravenously from a healthcare professional.
Treats peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Supplemental L-arginine may help individuals with impaired blood flow and blood vessel function, benefiting those with peripheral arterial disease.
- However, L-arginine supplementation over an extended period could not help manage PAD.
It is also used to treat a variety of other medical issues, however there are not enough reliable evidence to support them.
Arginine shortage is very rare and often occurs along with other conditions such as protein malnutrition, increased stress levels, enzyme deficiencies, and other health problems and may produce the following symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Hair loss
- Improper wound healing
L-Arginine Side effects
Most study results suggest that up to 9 g/day of arginine for several days or weeks is safe and well tolerated. However, doses beyond that can produce common l-arginine side effects as follows :
- Low blood pressure
- Problems with sleep
- Abdomen pain
More severe side effects may include:
- Allergic reaction – like itching, hives, or rashes.
- A tight feeling in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
Who should avoid taking L-Arginine?
People with the following health conditions should avoid taking l-arginine supplements :
- Low blood pressure
- Liver cirrhosis
- Kidney disease
- Recent heart attack
- Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency
- Hypersensitivity to arginine
- People with herpes infection
Precautions to be taken while taking L-Arginine
- People with asthma or allergies need to take L-arginine dietary supplements carefully because it could aggravate their conditions.
- When using arginine, anyone who has herpes should exercise caution. The virus can be activated, and the sickness can spread at very low dosages.
- L-arginine should not be taken by people who have recently experienced a heart attack since it may raise the chance of death.
- In children – When given orally or inhaled by children, it may be safe.
- Pregnant women – Because there is not enough information on the long-term usage of L-arginine during pregnancy, pregnant women should err on the side of caution and avoid using it unless a doctor advises them to.
- Breastfeeding – L-arginine should be avoided unless specifically advised by a healthcare professional, as there is not enough trustworthy information to determine whether it is safe to take while breastfeeding.
- Scheduled surgery – It is advised to quit taking L-arginine for at least two weeks before an upcoming surgery because it may affect how blood pressure is managed both during and after the procedure.
Interactions of L-Arginine
Arginine supplements may interact with the following medicines
- Medicines to control blood pressure – Because l-arginine is known to relax and expand blood vessels, blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors or beta-blockers may cause blood pressure to drop too low.
- Sildenafil (Viagra) – is a drug taken for erectile dysfunction. Blood pressure can be lowered by sildenafil. Additionally, L-arginine can reduce blood pressure. Combining sildenafil and L-arginine runs the risk of lowering blood pressure too much.
- Blood thinners – L-arginine may reduce blood coagulation; if taken along with blood thinners, the risk of bleeding and bruising may increase.
- Blood sugar-lowering medication – L-arginine may lower blood sugar levels. Combining L-arginine with diabetes drugs may result in alarmingly low blood sugar levels and should be monitored regularly.
- Potassium-sparing diuretics, sometimes known as water pills – When used with arginine, can cause high levels of potassium in the blood, resulting in arrhythmias that could be fatal.
The Bottom Line
As this article may not cover every medication that could interact with l-arginine, it is advised that people discuss all of their current medications, including prescription, over-the-counter, herbal, and dietary supplement medications, before taking L-arginine supplements. The ideal way to obtain arginine is through a healthy diet, as supplements could have harmful side effects. People must check with a doctor to begin using dietary supplements of any kind.