L-arginine is an amino acid commonly sold in supplement form and obtained naturally in the diet. L-arginine-rich foods include plant and animal proteins, such as dairy products, meat, poultry, fish and nuts.
In the body L-arginine is converted in nitric oxide (a compound that relaxes the blood vessels). L-arginine is also necessary for the production of protein and helps rid the body of ammonia (a waste product). This amino acid also stimulates the release of insulin.
Dietary supplementation with L-arginine has shown to be beneficial in many studies. The most prominent clinical trial took place in The High Desert Heart Institute, one of the most prestigious heart institutes in the United States. Each patient received extensive diagnostic testing which generated approximately 7,000 points of data.
Health Benefits of L-Arginine Supplements:
Stress, poor diet and high level of LDL cholesterol promote inflammations in your arteries that leads to arterial plaque formation increasing blood pressure and homocysteine levels. Researchers at the University of Penn State and Stanford University
Medical Center found and cardiologists at The High Desert Heart Institute confirmed that oral supplementation of L-Arginine decreases blood pressure and homocysteine levels in patients who are exposed to stress. Supplementation with L-arginine is therefore advisable, as it is helpful in reducing high blood pressure and inflammation in the cell walls of the blood circulation. Many studies also indicate that L-arginine may help with the following conditions:
Several small studies show that increasing intake of foods high in L-arginine may help ease symptoms, increase exercise tolerance, and improve blood vessel function in people with angina. Learn about other natural approaches to angina treatment.
Congestive Heart Failure
L-arginine may improve cardiac performance in people with congestive heart failure, according to a 2000 study published in Clinical Cardiology. However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) caution that L-arginine should not be used in place of standard treatments prescribed by a healthcare provider.
There’s some evidence that L-arginine may benefit men with erectile dysfunction. In a 1999 study published in the journal BJU International, for instance, 50 men with erectile dysfunction took either 5 grams of L-arginine per day or a placebo. After six weeks, more men in the L-arginine group showed improvement compared to those taking the placebo.
Like the drug sildenafil citrate (Viagra), L-arginine is thought to enhance the action of nitric oxide and—in turn—relax the muscles surrounding blood vessels supplying the penis. As a result, blood vessels in the penis dilate, increasing blood flow, which may help maintain an erection. The difference in how they work is that Viagra blocks an enzyme called PDE5, which destroys nitric oxide, and L-arginine is used to make nitric oxide. Unlike Viagra, L-arginine is taken on a daily basis for erectile dysfunction. Also read Natural Remedies for Erectile Dysfunction.
Other Common Uses for L-Arginine:
- high blood pressure
- intermittent claudication
- interstitial cystitis
- male infertility
- sexual dysfunction (in both men and women)
Some people also use L-arginine to boost the immune system, improve athletic performance, and shorten recovery time after surgery. Studies show that L-arginine can be effective for managing inflammation of the bladder, relieving leg cramping and weakness caused by blocked arteries (a condition known as intermittent claudication), and improving kidney function in kidney transplant patients taking cyclosporine. What’s more, taking L-arginine in combination with ribonucleic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) may reduce recovery time, protect against infection, and promote wound healing after surgery.