The risks of L-arginine supplements are attributed to high intake doses and prolonged usage. Some of the commonly reported side effects are allergies, digestive problems, stomach pain, gout, and hypotension.
Arginine is a type of bitter-tasting, semi-essential amino acid, and a building block of proteins. L-arginine is included in the 20 natural amino acids, meaning it is naturally produced by the body. Also, there are foods high in arginine that serve as good sources for this amino acid. While external supply of this natural amino acid is not always necessary, supplementation may be required for some individuals.
L-Arginine Supplement at a Glance
In the body, L-arginine amino acid acts as a precursor for nitric oxide (NO), urea, and other amino acids. It is required for expelling ammonia, and for the production of creatine, glutamate, and citrulline. Studies reveal that this natural amino acid stimulates the secretion of growth hormone and insulin hormone. Taking all these into consideration, it is concluded that it plays a major role in the normal functioning of bodily metabolism. L-arginine supplements are administered to those with infections, burns, sepsis, urea synthesis disorders, sexual problems, and peritoneal dialysis.
The ingested amino acid gets converted into nitric oxide, which brings about widening and relaxation of the blood vessels (vasodilation effect). It also enhances the production of some hormones in the body. In general, supplementation of L-arginine is considered safe, provided that correct dose is taken orally, and for a short-term period. But increased dosage and using for an extended period are linked to several adverse effects. It is shown to exacerbate allergies, asthma and herpes. Since L-arginine cause fluctuations in blood pressure, this amino acid supplement is strictly not recommended for people, who have recently undergone surgery, or are diagnosed with heart attacks. The same is for patients with low blood pressure. In children, overdose of this supplement may cause life-threatening medical complications.
- Nauseated feeling
- Abdominal pain
- Digestive problems
- Abnormal swelling of legs
- Chest pain
- Low blood pressure
- Airway inflammation
- Difficultly in breathing
- Blood abnormalities
- Elevated blood sugar
- Worsening asthma
- Worsening of cold sores
- Worsening of sickle cell disease
This supplement should not be taken in conjunction with some therapeutic drugs (particularly drugs for high blood pressure and medications containing nitrates). Say for instance, taking it with antihypertensive medication may result in drastic reduction of blood pressure, which can be fatal. In the same way, L-arginine is shown to stimulate blood flow in the arteries. So, administering the supplement with vasodilation medication, or those formulated with nitric oxide may lead to adverse bodily reactions.
The appropriate dosage depends upon the purpose for which this supplement is taken. While safe oral concentration for patients diagnosed with congestive heart failure is between 6 – 20 g per day (divided in three doses), the dosage for treating erectile dysfunction in men is 5 g per day.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.