L-arginine is an amino acid which the body needs in order to make proteins, as well as providing a number of other benefits. It is commonly found in poultry, red meat, dairy products and fish. It can also be made in a laboratory in the form of supplements which are then sold to athletes as a performance enhancer and can additionally be used as a medicine.

Arginine is an important factor in the division of cells, healing of wounds, hormonal secretion, and the boosting of one’s immune system. In 1998, three American scientists had won the Nobel Prize after discovering that L-Arginine played a role in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is important because it helps the arteries relax, allowing better flow of blood, and thus less strain on the heart.

Medical research has shown evidence that L-arginine is an important factor for the treatment of a variety of human ailments.

Why is it important?

L-Arginine provides a number of benefits to the human body. One of the most important roles that it plays is in the production of the previously mentioned nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is used to help the body’s cells communicate with each other. It has also been shown to be important in a number of bodily activities:

  • Regulation of blood pressure by dilating arteries
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improving sleep quality
  • Assist the immune system

…to name a few.

In addition to the production of nitric oxide, L-arginine has been proven to decrease the symptoms of chest pain, improve sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction, prevent inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants, prevent nitrate tolerance and increase blood flow in the legs of those who have poor blood flow.

What is the history of L-Arginine?

Arginine was first discovered in 1895. From that point, its role as an amino acid was beginning to be understood by researchers determined to figure out its role in the human body. In 1988, three American scientists had discovered the role in which L-Arginine plays in production of nitric oxide – a molecule used by the body to help cells communicate with each other. Because of their discovery, the team of scientists had received the Nobel Prize for their contribution.

Beginning in the early 1990’s, experimentation of cardiovascular health improvement with L-Arginine had started to be more prominent amongst researchers and medical professionals. In fact, scientists and doctors were so impressed with the results of L-Arginine, that they had begun to use the supplement themselves. Today, it is given to patients in an effort to increase the rate of recovery after infectious wounds, reducing the risk of further infection.

It is predicted that L-Arginine supplementation can begin to reverse some of the side effects of heart disease, such as hardening of the arteries and buildup of the arterial lining. For those who are in this particular situation, L-Arginine is no longer a need for prescription blood pressure medication, or a lower dose. As the need for blood pressure medication decreases, the physical and mental side effects of the medicine in patients decrease as well.

How does it help the body function?

Arginine is necessary for the process of many physiological tasks. Some of these tasks include hormone secretion, increased growth hormone output, removal of toxic waste products from the body, and the support of immune system defenses. Due to its nitric oxide producing abilities, it is able to signal muscle cells, release growth hormones, remove bad cholesterol, enhance fat metabolism, and regulate levels of salt in the body.

As previously mentioned, the releasing of nitric oxide in the body helps in a number of ways; by reducing chest pain, blood pressure, heart disease and even male/female infertility. For bodybuilders, arginine is believed to be crucial for muscle growth due to its vasodilating abilities, as well as its ability to participate in protein synthesis.

What are symptoms of deficiency?

Arginine deficiency can cause a number of problems, such as skin rash, hair loss, poor wound healing, and in rare cases, fatty liver may develop, leading to problems with liver functionality. Those with inadequate protein intake are very common reasons of deficiency. Those with previous medical conditions, such as burns and infections, may require additional arginine supplementation.

Additional sources of arginine can be found in a range of foods, including both animal and plant sources. Dairy sources such as milk, and products made from milk, poultry, beef, pork and seafood all have adequate amounts of arginine. Whole grains and nuts including wheat, peanuts, soybeans and tree nuts like walnuts are great sources as well.

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