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L-arginine

    L-arginine

    This semi-essential amino acid optimizes blood flow to vital organs, tissues, and muscles by converting into nitric oxide. The “L” in front of the amino acid name denotes the molecule’s form; it means levoratory.

    The body generally produces healthy amounts of arginine, but supplementation may provide additional health and ergogenic benefits.[1]

    Because of its vasodilatory effects, it has caught the attention of several health professionals and body builders alike.

    This chemical building block continues to make waves as more supportive studies are published. Here is a look at some key benefits arginine offers:

    Erectile Dysfunction

    As L-arginine is converted to nitric oxide, vascular smooth muscle relaxes, allowing for enhanced blood flow to important organs like the penis.

    In one study, 50 men suffering from organic erectile dysfunction supplemented L-arginine over a 6-week period. Arginine supplementation resulted in notable improvement in sexual function; specifically, nitrate and nitrite levels doubled by the trial’s end.[2]

    HGH Levels

    Studies surrounding arginine’s ability to increase human growth hormone production are ongoing, but results are promising.

    Researchers note a moderate L-arginine dose increased resting growth hormone levels by 100%.[3]

    Additional studies show synergistic effects of arginine plus lysine on human growth hormone release. Researchers believe this combination influences human growth hormone and also triggers pituitary somatotropin and insulin release.[4]

    Athletic Performance

    Research shows taking arginine influences time to exhaustion and anaerobic threshold, both of which appear interrelated.[5]

    In a double-blind, cross over study, an arginine beverage or a placebo beverage were consumed by 9 male test subjects who underwent moderate and intense exercises 1 hour post ingestion.

    Results show plasma nitrate content was higher in the arginine beverage group when compared to placebo, systolic blood pressure was lowered, and time to exhaustion during intense exercise increased.[6]

    Arginine is generally safe for most users when taken short term and in small doses. Arginine has been shown to cause side effects in some cases. Side effects include:[7]

    • Diarrhea
    • Gout
    • Abdominal pain
    • Allergies
    • Airway inflammation
    • Low blood pressure
    • Blood abnormalities

    Those pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid arginine use to be safe. There isn’t enough information to determine whether long-term supplementation may have adverse side effects in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

    Arginine supplementation may be unsafe in children when used in high doses.

    If you have low blood pressure, taking arginine may be dangerous as it may lower blood pressure even further.

    For combating organic erectile dysfunction, 5 g is a commonly used dose.[7]

    Arginine doses used to increase resting growth hormone levels range between 5-9 g.[3]

    To improve time to exhaustion, researchers found 6 g arginine dose mixed in a 500 ml beverage was effective.[6]

    • [1] “Arginine.” Mayo Clinic.
    • [2] Chen J, et al. “Effect of oral administration of high-dose nitric oxide donor L-arginine in men with organic erectile dysfunction: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.” BJU Int. 1999 Feb; 83(3).269-73.
    • [3] Kanaley Ja. “Growth hormone, arginine and exercise.” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Jan;11(1):50-4.
    • [4] Isidori A, Lo Monaco A, Cappa M. “A study of growth hormone release in man after oral administration of amino acids.” Curr Med Res Opin. 1981; 7(7):475-81.
    • [5] Elizabeth Quinn. “Lactate Threshold Training.” Sports Medicine.
    • [6] Stephen J. Bailey, et al. “Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance.” Journal of Applied Physiology. August 19, 2010. Jap. 00503.2010.
    • [7] “L-Arginine.” WebMD.

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