Arginine is a naturally occurring alpha-amino acid. It is naturally produced in the human body, and any required supplementation can be met by dietary means. However, some people may suffer from certain conditions like malnutrition, excessive ammonia production, or other infections which sometimes require external supplementation. Arginine performs a number of important functions including ridding the body of waste, production of creatinine, and the production of nitric oxide, a blood vessel relaxant.
Use of the dietary supplement, L-arginine has been the subject of numerous studies and debates in recent times, with opinions widely divided for and against its favor.
Apart from the usual functions that it performs, its benefits are numerous. Although the use of these amino acid supplements is still under debate, there are a number of health care professionals who are in support of its prescription, for the following benefits it provides:
Men suffering from erectile dysfunction have been found to have benefited from the use of L-arginine supplements. Much like Viagra, (sildenafil citrate) studies have found that this drug's ability to behave as a precursor to the synthesis of nitric oxide, can help in the relaxation of muscles surrounding the penis, and thereby boost blood flow. While Viagra works by obstructing an enzyme that destroys nitric oxide, L-arginine contributes to the formation of nitric oxide.
Although the jury is still out on this, early evidence suggests that certain cardiovascular diseases which are caused by or linked to clogged arteries, atherosclerosis, and other associated conditions benefit from the use of L-arginine supplements. This is again attributed to the formation of nitric oxide, which helps in the dilation of blood vessels.
Healing of Wounds
L-arginine acts as a trigger for the formation of protein, which can promote healing of wounds. In addition, protein helps in the healing of muscles and tissues and their formation. This is also important for bodybuilding.
Immune System Enhancement
This supplement has also been found to increase the activity of the thymus gland, which is responsible for the formation of T cells. T cells are functional units of the immune system and vital for the body's defense against disease, infections and other medical conditions.
L-Arginine Side Effects
L-arginine's function of nitric oxide production can lead to low blood pressure. Other side effects include indigestion, nausea, and headaches. It is not recommended for people suffering from the following conditions because of possible complications or potential worsening of symptoms:
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers
- Genital herpes
- In addition, it should not be used in conjunction with ACE inhibitors, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or on young children.
Although there are a number of benefits for men, it's important to check with a doctor before choosing to take these supplements, or self medicating. For a safer way to up argenine levels, increase intake of foods like soy products, meat, oats, dairy, chocolate, peanuts, coconuts, and almonds.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.