Tuesday, April 26, 2011

L-Arginine the Amino Acid Supplement

About L-Arginine
L-Arginine is a semi-essential Amino Acids that attract people of all walks of life to supplement it into their diet. L-Arginine is supposed to do a variety of things for the body from dilating the blood vessels to helping the kidneys remove waste. L-Arginine is an A-Amino Acid. The L-form of Arginine is one of the twenty most common natural amino acids. The chemical IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) name is (S)-2-Amino-5-guanidinopentanoic acid. The molecular formula is C6H14N4O2
What it does.
             Many people swear by the benefits of this amino acid. L-Arginine is theoretically supposed to help heal wounds, helping kidneys remove waste products from the body, maintaining immune, hormone function, aid in DNA synthesis, and finally support muscle gain while limiting the storage of fat. L-Arginine makes urea, and urea gets rid of extra nitrogen from protein breakdown and that is how L-Arginine helps the body get rid of toxic waste. L-Arginine removes Urea and Creatinine (which is a byproduct of creatine). People sometimes apply L-Arginine to the skin to speed wound healing and for increased blood flow to cold hands and feet. L-Arginine is a precursor to Nitric Oxide which opens up the blood vessels and makes companies market the supplement as something that can help with Erectile Dysfunction. L-Arginine has been proven effective in use during the recovery phase to reduce recovery time, wounds, and infections. L-Arginine is also used to remove the extra fluids that can be a problem in Congestive Heart Failure. L-Arginine has also been effective in reducing chest pain associated with Coronary Artery Disease. L-Arginine may help regulate certain chemical balances. It helps your body manufacture creatine. It also helps your body get rid of creatinine (which is a waster product associated with urea). In medicine L-Arginine can be used as a vasodilator (dilating the blood vessels) allowing more blood to pass through. This can lower blocked pressure helping the body work around arterial blockages that can come with Atherosclerosis. Dilated blood vessels can lead to lowered blood pressure helping the body work around arterial blockages that can come with Atherosclerosis. So increased blood flow may reduce migraine pain, and work well with other pain medicines such as ibuprofen. Dilating the blood vessels lowers the blood pressure and also reduces the stiffness of the blood vessels from the Nitric Oxide and improves the function. 
Marketing Campaigns
           Some of the claims that companies that use to market L-Arginine on their bottles are things like: L-arginine prevents or treats heart disease and circulatory diseases, combats fatigue, stimulates the immune system, treats impotence, fights cancer, and so on. Many of the studies out there have found out that L-arginine supplements can boost nitric oxide production, which dilates the blood vessels and allows for more blood flow which gives the muscle more oxygen to do work therefore you tend to have increased endurance and strength. Some other tests have also suggested that the supplements can improve the function of blood vessels, enhance coronary blood flow, lower blood pressure, and even reduce angina or other symptoms in people with heart disease and/or vascular disease. Other than L-Arginine boosting Nitric Oxide levels there is insufficient evidence to prove that any of those claims are true. The claims might have some truth to them, but it is just a matter of there being more research to back up those claims and make them more credible.
Companies marketing L-arginine typically do not advertise that you have a deficiency of this amino acid, but they try to let you know what you could be getting if you take more L-arginine. This is because deficiencies are rare and this amino acid is found in red meats, poultry, dairy products and seafood. There are some conditions that might alter the body enough to have a deficiency in L-arginine such as burns, sepsis, jaundice, protein deficiencies, and malnutrition.                                                                                                                           
If you do have one of the rare conditions from above or you  think you might there are some symptoms of a deficiency that you might check for such as constipation, alopecia (hair loss), skin problems, slow healing wounds, and there might be fat that is growing on their liver.

Side Effects
 There are a few things that you might want to know about the side effects of using L-Arginine, such as it should not be used following a heart attack. It may lower blood pressure because it is involved in the formation of nitric oxide. It may result in indigestion, nausea, and headache. Higher doses can increase stomach acid, which can worsen heartburn, ulcers, or digestive upset causes by medications. It increases stomach acid by stimulation the productions of gastrin, which is a hormone that increases stomach acid.  L-Arginine may also alter potassium levels, especially in people with liver disease. L-Arginine may also alter levels of other chemicals and electrolytes in the body such as chloride, sodium, potassium. People with kidney disease and who take ACE inhibitors or potassium sparing diuretics should not supplement with L-Arginine. People with diabetes should not take L-Arginine because it may increase blood sugar levels. It is recommended that people who are nursing or pregnant should not take it, because it has not been deemed safe by the FDA. L-arginine may also aggravate symptoms of herpes. L-Arginine may also have drug reactions that counteract the benefits of lysine to treat herpes. Drugs such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) that are hard on the stomach should not be combines with L-Arginine. L-Arginine may also interact with drugs that alter potassium levels in the body such as ACE inhibitors and potassium sparing diuretics                                                                                                                                         
Some users may experience some side effects (which can be short term and long term problems) with taking L-Arginine such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gout, blood abnormalities, allergies, airway inflammation, worsening of asthma, and low blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure is normally a not major problem, but if somebody already has low blood pressure then there could be complications. According to the research studies done there are not any major long term side effects known as of right now. So far there are no major effects of L-Arginine interacting negatively with any other medications. According to some of the recent research L-Arginine is well tolerated as long as your dosage stays under 30g.

Where to buy L-Arginine
Many companies sell L-Arginine in powders, pills, and in drinks. Some of these stores include GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, and many other drug stores such as CVS, Rite Aid and others.  There are also many online supplement stores that sell this product. The companies that bottle, market and sell L-Arginine are NOW, GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, Spring Valley, and Nature Made. Supplements effectiveness is a concern for athletes and the average person, but so is price. Supplements can drain the consumers pocket and also not be an effective supplement. L-Arginine costs about $10 for 120, 1000mg tablets from a more generic brand and it can also run $30 for 180, 1000mg tablets from a name brand company.
Where it is found
           L-Arginine can be found in meats, poultry, dairy products and seafood. It can be found in pretty much anything with protein, theoretically. According to all the research done on L-Arginine I find that it is unnecessary to buy unless you want to use it as a nitric oxide precursor, which the extent to its effectiveness is really based on how much you take and is not worth it if you have to spend a lot of money. I feel that L-Arginine is not worth supplementing because the research is just not really there to back up what people say it does. All in all nothing beats a good well balanced diet, exercise, and sleep to improve your health.


Arginine (L-arginine). (2010, December). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/l-arginine/NS_patient-arginine.

Böger, R. H. (2001). THE CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY OF L-ARGININE.Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 41: 79-99, doi:10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.41.1.79.

Hobbs, A. J. (1999). INHIBITION OF NITRIC OXIDE SYNTHASE AS A POTENTIAL THERAPEUTIC TARGET. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 39: 191-220, doi:10.1146/annurev.pharmtox.39.1.191.
Corbett, H. (2009, March). Nutrition News. Mens Health Training Guide.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nutrient Needs

Football currently is a male only sport. The average age for a player in the NFL is 25-28 years old. For linebackers the average age is 25 years old. Linebackers in the NFL typically weight 247lbs on average, which is 30lbs more than the running backs that they tend to tackle the most. Linebackers need the body mass to stop the offense with force. Linebackers also cannot be overweight or else they will never catch up to and tackle the ball carrier that they are trying to stop. Most teams in the NFL practice twice a day for about two hours each time so the nutrient requirements for the players will be even higher than the normal mildly active person that weighs the same. For a linebacker the average caloric intake is around 3800-5700kcals a day and that is based on the player’s weight. Football players used to be able to get whatever without getting in trouble, but that is no longer the case. Now in this day and age athletes and teams have somewhat of a better understanding on how nutrition affects performance. Athletes are monitored closely to see what they eat. A few years back football players and other athletes would run to a fast food burger joint and get lunch, but we now know that eating like that is not conducive to performance. Carbohydrate intake need to make up about 60 percent of a player’s total intake of calories, which on an average diet of 4000 calories totals out to be about 2400 calories of carbohydrates alone. To estimate the carbohydrates in the diet you can add up 10-12 grams per kilogram of body weight. For fat to be determined you use 1.8g/kg of body weight, while protein is 1.2-1.7g/kg of body weight. In a diet of about 4000 calories a day the fat intake should roughly be around 133g which is a caloric intake of 1200kcals. Most of the fat intake should be healthy intake of fat such as olive oil, polyunsaturated fats and others while limiting saturated fats. The daily intake for protein in a 4000 calorie diet 134-190g a day, with a caloric intake of 400-500kcals. Fats should make up 20-30% of the total calories and protein should make up 15-20% of the total calories. Players should try to eat a meal 2-4 hours before their competition or practice and limit themselves on sugar, fat and focus on carbohydrates, which is what they need to provide the energy their body will demand from them for their competition When a player is prepping for a competition or practice that player needs to make sure that they have eaten enough calories to supply their energy needs. It is well known that a high-carbohydrate mean prior to team practice or a competitive event helps “top-off” glycogen stores and ensures adequate blood glucose levels at practice or game time (Fink et al., 2009).  Pre-game meals need to focus on carbohydrates and be about 1-4.5g of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight. The foods the players eat also should be foods that they are familiar with. A player also needs to make sure that they drink enough water throughout the day. After practice an athlete needs to drink 3 cups for every pound lost during exercise to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration and the problems that come with it. Also football players need to watch their sodium intake, because it can lead to other heart problems such as hypertension. Alcohol can also be a problem with players, because their college habits of binge drinking could carry over and they could party a little too hard after a win. High sodium chloride intake strongly predisposes to hypertension. Increased alcohol consumption may acutely elevate blood pressure. High intakes of potassium, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and protein, along with exercise and possibly vitamin D, may reduce blood pressure (Savica et al., 2010). When prepping for the day an athlete should take advantage of a meal plan that they can follow easily and this eat healthy throughout the day. Below is a meal plan that would be a good starting point. An athlete must remember that pre-game meals and snacks must be limited on the fat, sugar, sodium, and fiber for various reasons. Fiber might cause GI discomfort, while fat will make you feel full and sluggish. If a player takes in too much sodium it can make a player thirsty and dehydrate faster. Some good options for a pre-game meal would be something along the lines of waffles and eggs, a turkey or ham sub with little to no mayo, or even some pasta with grilled chicken. After a workout, practice, or competition what an athlete can eat is much more lenient such as steak with rice or pasta, Salmon with potato and vegetables. The athlete can also eat more of what he wants

Sample Meals

8 oz. Orange Juice
10 oz. Milk
1 piece toast with PB&J
1 Banana
1c. of Oatmeal
6oz. Turkey slices
1 Slice of Cheese
½ cup of lettuce
¼ cup tomato
6 Sub sandwich
1 c. mixed berries
4 oz. Milk
 4 cups of milk
Grilled Chicken
Baked Potato w/ Butter
1 c. Steamed Broccoli/Cauliflower
1 PB&J           

Athletes should remember to keep in mind that eating healthy will make the difference when it comes to their performance. Football players in general should try to stay as healthy as possible and keep excess weight off. They need to keep their hearts healthy because statistics have shown that football players do not typically live as long as other athletes and they typically die from some kind of heart problem. Football players need to remember that they are not gods and that steroids (and other types of ergogenics along that line) hurt them in the long run.

References Used in the Football Posts

Haupt  HA, Rovere  GD. (1984)  Anabolic steroids: a review of the literature.  Am J Sports Med.  1984;12:69–84.

Fink, H. H., Burgoon, L. A., Mikesky, A. E.  (2009).  Practical applications in sports nutrition        (2nd ed.).  Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, LLC.

Ekblom, B. (1986). "Applied physiology of football." Sports Medicine, 3, 50-60

Bobb, A., D. Pringle and A. J. Ryan. A brief study of the diet of athletes. J. Sports Med. 9:255, 1969

Carl Prine, Jan. 9, 2005, “Reportedly, the 2003 NFL injury rate was nearly eight times higher than that of any other commercial sports league, according to the U.S. Department of Labor..” “Bloody Sundays,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, available at [http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/ 

specialreports/specialnfl/s_291033.html].  CRS Report p. 8 racing.”

Savica, V, Bellinghieri, G, & Kopple, J (2010). The Effect of Nutrition on Blood Pressure. Annual Review of Nutrition, 30: 365-401(10.1146/annurev-nutr-010510-103954),

Inline Citation -- (Savica, Bellinghieri & Kopple, 2010)

Williams MH. Rating the sports ergogenics. In: Williams MH. The ergogenics edge: pushing the limits of sports performance. Champaign, Ill Human Kinetics, 1998:115–278.

Ergogenics Used

There are many athletes looking for an edge on their competition so they turn to ergogenics. Approximately 50 percent of the general population have reported taking some form of dietary supplements, while 76 to 100 percent of athletes in some sports are reported to use them (Ahrendt, 2001). Some of the most popular ergogenics include steroids, human growth hormone, stimulates (which can be illegal when athlete goes over a certain limit), blood doping, creatine, Androstenodione. Creatine is not one of the banned substances, but the others are. Amphetamines are also banned. There are three main reasons people take steroids, which are “First, anticatabolic effects reverse the actions of glucocorticoids and help metabolize ingested proteins, converting a negative nitrogen balance into a positive one. Second, anabolic effects directly induce skeletal muscle synthesis. Third, there is a “steroid rush”—a state of euphoria and decreased fatigue that allows the athlete to train harder and longer.” (Haupt, 1984).  These reasons are enough to get a player to use them whether they are banned or not.

Health Concerns and Risks

In football there are many health risks to consider. One very important health implication is that football players tend to have heart problems due to steroid use. Many football players use steroids, human growth hormone and other banned ergogenics. The heavier football players were twice as likely to die before the age of 50 due to heart disease, which raises another problem among some NFL players which is obesity or just being overweight. The lineman tend to weight more so that it is harder for people to move them around on the field and they can have more body mass. Many NFL players try to weigh more on purpose because it also helps with tackling. Football players that weight in between the range of 260-300lbs can tackle with a force of 2600-3000lb when running full speed. Besides the organ problems with the heart football players including the ones that don’t take banned substances can still be at high risk of becoming injured when tackling people and being tackled. The injury rate for NFL players was nearly eight times higher than that of any other commercial sports league, including hockey and auto racing (Carl Prine, 2005). Playing football in general opens you up to becoming injured and getting concussions. Older football players can have increased risk of dementia and memory loss as well as aching body parts. There was a former Baylor player that became paralyzed from a hit in practice. In 1979 Kyle Woods was hit by a teammate during practice and he had become paralyzed. Another health concern is dehydration. If a football player does not drink enough water before, during, and after practice or competition then they could suffer from a heat stroke, cramps, heat exhaustion, overheating, and even death. 

Energy System

Most of all the positions on the football team use anaerobic energy systems. Although there is some use of aerobic energy systems (about 20 percent), anaerobic energy system makes up the main energy system used (roughly 80 percent) to fuel the football player. The anaerobic system is exercise in the form of short burst with a short resting period afterwards that tends to be typically longer than the exercise period. The aerobic system is more for endurance running. In football plays can last an average of anywhere from 10-15 seconds and sometimes less. The resting period that follows can last from 30-45 seconds.

Mechanics of the Sport

The mechanics for linebackers mostly include tackling and running. Tackling is the most important thing the linebacker does. When tackling a football player uses mostly leg power that comes from the quadriceps, hamstrings, and some of the other leg muscles. When tackling a player usually has his feet firmly planted and when right about to hit the linebacker will half-way squat down lunge forward and will attempt to “run through” his opponent and take him to the ground.

L-Arginine the Amino Acid Supplement

About L-Arginine L-Arginine is a semi-essential Amino Acids that attract people of all walks of life to supplement it into their d...