What is Arginine?

Arginine or L-arginine is an amino acid that is obtained by the hydrolysis of several common proteins, but specifically proteins associated with histones and protamines as they are associated with nucleic acids. The amino acid was first isolated in 1895 from an animal horn, and since then, extensive studies have shown its importance in living organisms. Arginine plays a critical role in all mammals for the synthesis of urea, it is the form in which mammals excrete nitrogen from their body. It is one of the many nonessential amino acids found in adult mammals.


Basic Introduction of Arginine

Arginine is synthesized in these species from glutamic acid without the supplement of any additional dietary sources. It is also found in poultry, red meat, fish, and other dairy products. Upon further studies, it is found that arginine also stimulates the release of insulin, growth hormone, and other important substances in the body. It breaks down during a chemical reaction and is converted into nitric oxide, which causes the blood vessels to open up broader for better blood circulation. 


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Uses of Arginine

Due to this exceeding importance, arginine supplements are used for various medical treatments. Heart and blood vessel medical conditions like congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, chest pain, and coronary artery disease are treated with the help of arginine. 

It is also used to treat the recurrent pain in the legs, which is caused due to blocked arteries, erectile dysfunction, decreased mental capacity usually found in elderly people, and male infertility. Doctors also use arginine supplement to treat and improve kidney function after kidney transplant surgery is performed. The kidney is particularly vulnerable and needs an extra boost to settle in and function in the new body. 

Arginine also prevents the common cold and greatly improves the athletic performance of an individual. Furthermore, arginine can also be used to boost the immunity of a person and prevent digestive tract inflammation in premature individuals. Naturally, it can be concluded that L-Arginine is vital for the growth of T-cells, which are also known as white blood cells, and they play an important role in the immune response. As these amino acids play such a critical role, the lack of them in the body will disrupt organ and cellular function, leading to serious health complications.


Benefits of L-Arginine Supplements

Some of the benefits and uses of the L-Arginine supplement were briefly mentioned above. Below given is more information on the same and additional benefits of arginine amino acid.


1. Regulation of Blood Pressure

Scientific studies have shown that by taking L-arginine supplements, one can lower one diastolic and systolic blood pressure. As mentioned above, L-arginine is important for the production of nitric oxide, which is required for the blood vessels to relax. Thus regulates the blood pressure in the human body.


2. Treating Erectile Dysfunction

A 2019 review of a total of 10 studies found that taking L-arginine supplements in 1.5-5 grams of daily dosage range can considerably improve erectile dysfunction as compared to other or no treatment.


3. Preventing and Treating Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure condition found in women during pregnancy. It is also characterized by high levels of protein in their urine. Studies have proven that intake of arginine in regulated dosages can treat and possibly prevent preeclampsia in pregnant women.


4. Managing Critical illness

Infections and trauma drastically affect your body and make it vulnerable. Therefore, the Arginine need in your body considerably increases because of physiologic demands. When the body cannot internally meet arginine demands, it needs to be fulfilled externally. Oral or IV arginine amino acid is usually administered to treat grave infections, such as necrotizing enterocolitis in babies, chronic diseases, sepsis, serious wounds, and burns.


Enhancement of Athletic Performance

Although the evidence is limited, it suggests that arginine supplements can improve the exercise capacity by elevating nitric oxide in the human body, enhancing blood circulation and oxygenation to the muscles. However, the intake of L-arginine to enhance athletic performance is controversial as many studies have shown that arginine supplements are not beneficial for the same.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can the Intake of L-Arginine Cause Any Side Effects?

Ans: Although L-arginine supplements are considered to be generally reliable and safe for intake, it is strongly advised to consult a doctor before it is administered. L-arginine is known to cause numerous side effects. These side effects are minor and last for a maximum of three months. Oral intake of these supplements may cause:

  • Headache

  • Bloating

  • Allergic response

  • Diarrhoea

  • Abdominal pain

  • Nausea 

  • Worsening of pre-existing asthma symptoms

  • Airway inflammation 

There is no such generalized recommended daily dose of arginine amino acids established because the body internally fulfils the need. One can also try food items like red meat and dairy products for additional L-arginine supplements. 

2. Can L-Arginine Supplements Enhance Sexual Performance?

Ans: L-arginine supplements are one of the best-selling sexual performance enhancers in the market. It is a form of amino acid that contains the raw materials needed by the body to synthesize nitric oxide. This helps the blood vessels to relax by opening them wider and ensuring stronger blood flow. It is an important step needed for the penis to achieve an erection. However, the true effectiveness of the same is unknown. People suffering from any existing or pre-existing heart conditions should avoid taking L-arginine pills as they can cause life-threatening complications.

3. Are L-Arginine Supplements Safe For Children?

Ans: Firstly, it is always recommended to consult the nearest doctor before taking L-arginine supplements. It is considered safe for children when they orally intake the supplements, for example, toothpaste. Injections (IV) and inhaling L-arginine is also possible safe if the dosage is low, monitored, and the doctor recommended. High dosage injections are possibly unsafe as it causes grab side effects, which includes possible death in children. The safety of using L-arginine regardless of age is unclear, and that's why it is important to ask doctors for their professional medical advice before using it.