Even if L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid, it is conditionally essential, since it is important to several functions and usually present in lower quantities. One of the key advantages of arginine is its potential to boost breathing and blood flow. It is converted into nitric oxide in the body, which causes a widening of blood vessels.
L-arginine has many benefits, such as enhancing immune function, infertility, reducing high blood pressure, detoxification, and brain power. Moreover, It stimulates the development of certain hormones, especially growth hormones and insulin, which contribute to the incorporation of glucose into cells for growth and energy output. It is one of the reasons why physical capacity, stamina and power are assumed to be improved.
To further dive into L-arginine’s capabilities, it helps to understand how nitric oxide (NO) works in the body. Nitric oxide is a type of reactive natural gas produced by plants and animals. It is formed using the L-arginine amino acid and the synthase of nitric oxide (making L-arginine its precursor) and is in a type of by-product arising from many different chemical reactions. The endothelial cells (those lining the inside of all blood vessels) allow L-arginine to produce adequate nitric oxide to keep blood flowing freely.
Nitric oxide improves circulation by dialing blood vessels, so the risk of heart disease is higher when people don’t have enough in their arteries. Research suggests that the ability to produce NO in the artery linings decreases as someone grows older, which can be remedied with additional arginine.
Improves Heart Health. Research shows that L-arginine is effective for reducing inflammation and improving the protection of blood vessels and the cardiovascular system, which is why oral arginine is one of the most common supplements recommended by cardiologists. L-arginine supplements can be an effective measure to prevent a heart attack or stroke for people with high risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Some of the ways L-arginine enhances cardiovascular health include avoiding high blood pressure, increasing blood flow in people with clogged arteries (coronary artery disease), lowering high cholesterol, helping to alleviate congestive heart failure, enhancing stamina, and the symptoms associated with cut-off blood flow from the heart to the limbs (called claudication).
Lowers Inflammation and Fights the Effects of Aging. In addition to cardiac health, one of L-arginine’s primary benefits is the battle against disease-causing inflammation and improved immune function. Due to its effects on the enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD), but also through other antioxidant mechanisms, L-arginine has been found to have substantial free radical-scavenging capabilities. It is commonly used in combination with antioxidants such as supplements for vitamin C and omega-3 fish oil, helping to slow the process of aging and prevent many chronic diseases.
Arginine may even decrease the presence of ammonia in the blood, which is why ammonia is sometimes used to treat people with metabolic problems and urethra damage where ammonia is excreted from the body. Ammonia is a body-based product that breaks down proteins, and a cause of tissue necrosis that can lead to cell destruction and inflammation.
Boosts Exercise Performance. L-arginine is known to enhance blood flow efficiently, thereby helping to bring nutrients and oxygen to the muscle and joint tissues. That means more of the exercise’s many advantages, but with less discomfort. In some cases, broken joints or cold hands and feet are even used to improve heat and circulation, especially for people with complications from other health conditions such as reduced blood flow, arthritis or diabetes.
The body also uses arginine to increase human growth hormone, prolactin, and several amino acids — including creatine, L-proline, and L-glutamate. It even improves insulin sensitivity by allowing more glucose to enter cells, similar to how exercise does. The role of arginines in metabolic health is important to build strong muscle tissue, fight inflammation that causes bone and joint pain, repair injuries, and overall functions of the nervous system. There is also evidence that supplementation with L-arginine increases insulin from plasma and helps build stronger muscles even when you rest due to its effects on the capillaries of the body.
Improves Immunity and Speeds Up Healing from Inflammation. In some patients with diseases, trauma and cancer, low-circulating L-arginine was found. Some immune suppressor cells (MSCs) are believed to cause arginine deficiency or low blood circulation levels.
L-arginine is used with omega-3 fish oils and other supplements to reduce infection risk (especially respiratory infections or lung problems), improve wound healing, and shorten recovery after cancer, illness, or surgery. It is also used in helping to heal burns to improve protein function and may even help fight cavities and decay of the teeth. While more research is still needed due to the immune-enhancing effects of L-arginine, it is commonly given to people undergoing chemotherapy or healing from surgeries, viruses and infections (e.g. HIV).
Treating Erectile Dysfunction and Infertility. A number of studies have shown that L-arginine is involved in the proper cell replication process-in addition to increasing blood circulation-so it can help improve sperm production as well as motility. People who are struggling with cardiovascular problems linked to low NO levels in the blood are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and fertility problems as an erection involves smooth muscle relaxation caused by nitric oxide. A significant percentage of cases of male infertility-one study suggests 92%-may be treated with L-arginine in combination with other dilators, antioxidants, or anti-inflammatory drugs (such as pine bark).
Some research suggests that high stress levels in the sperm development system can reduce the concentration of L-arginine, so excessively stressed men can benefit from supplementation in particular. A combination of L-arginine, L-glutamate, and yohimbine hydrochloride is commonly used in the treatment of ED and appears to work better than L-arginine.
Even women can experience better reproductive help with L-arginine — doctors sometimes prescribe topical creams that contain this amino acid to help heal sexual problems and treat infertility naturally in both sexes as it improves the circulation of genital tissue. However, some research suggests that combined treatment with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and L-arginine may help regulate hormones naturally and restore normal sexual function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome and estrogen imbalances. Many studies suggest that L-arginine used with herbs such as chasteberry, green tea extract and supplements with antioxidants increase pregnancy rates in women trying to conceive.
Even if L-arginine is generally safe, consideration should be given to some potential side effects. If you have a history of heart disease, low blood pressure, diabetes, kidney problems or an infectious infection (such as herpes or shingles), supplementing with L-arginine is not recommended until you first talk to a doctor.
In general, it is still possible to develop short-term side effects, such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, gout, developing allergies or asthma and low blood pressure if you are usually healthy and take the dose around 1 gram daily. L-arginine can cause allergic reactions or increased swelling in the pulmonary and respiratory system to cautiously take L-arginine by people with existing allergies or asthma. Lastly, L-arginine seems safe for pregnant women and even children, although there is not much research on the effects in these populations, so it is best to stick to a low dose or ask your doctor first.