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.
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.
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.