L-arginine is an amino acid, sometimes referred to as ‘the building blocks of life’. It is needed for a variety of functions in the body, including dispensing with unwanted substances such as ammonia, as well as in the synthesis of creatine and other amino acids. In times of energy deficit, L-arginine can also be converted into glycogen to help supply fuel for a short period of time.
L-arginine is also key to the process that creates nitric oxide, which has an important role in relaxing blood vessels and ensuring good circulation. Some studies have shown that supplementing with L-arginine can improve medical conditions where blood flow is lessened, or where there may be benefit to be derived from widening blood vessels, creating vasodilation. Conditions which may fall under this umbrella are erectile dysfunction and atherosclerosis.
Protein synthesis involves L-arginine, which also plays a role in stimulating vertain hormone production, including human growth hormone (HGH) and prolactin. L-arginine is variously deployed to treat conditions such as heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, and to help recovery after cardiac surgery, due to it’s beneficial effect relaxing blood vessels and thus easing pressure on the heart. This role of Al-arginine may also be effective in the case of conditions such as atherosclerosis, angina and coronary artery disease.
L-arginine is also believed to have a similar effect to the notorious erection treatment sildenafil citrate, commonly marketed as Viagra. Studies showed that L-arginine can increase the body’s supply of nitric oxide, which is a natural muscle relaxant. This in turn causes the muscles that surround certain blood vessels which supply the penis to become relaxed, allowing increased bloodflow to the organ and promoting a strong, long-lasting erection. The differing function of L-arginine compared to sildenafil citrate is that sildenafil citrate blocks chemicals that inhibit the muscle relaxing nitric oxide, whereas L-arginine simply helps the body to produce more nitric oxide to compensate.
L-arginine is particularly favored as a supplement by athletes and bodybuilders due to its ability to help produce creatine. Creatine occurs naturally in the body, but it also degrades gradually and so supplies must be constantly replenished. Creatine is essential for maintaining healthy muscles and is known to be able to increase athlete’s levels of performance, making muscles bigger and stronger. It is also known to have a positive mental component, with users claiming improved levels of concentration and alertness when creatine supplements are used as part of training programs. L-arginine is a safe and effective way to boost your body’s natural creatine supply.
L-arginine has been proven in studies to help stimulate production of human growth hormone, or HGH, in the body, which makes it an effective treatment for conditions in which this hormone may be lacking, such as growth abnormalities, or pituitary adenoma.
L-arginine is usually considered a non-essential amino acid, which means that it can be synthesized by the body given the right conditions and resources. However, sometimes levels of L-arginine can run dry, as in the case of some diseases such as malnutrition, infections and sepsis. In these cases, L-arginine supplementation is essential to prevent the symptoms of deficiency, which can be quite nasty and include hair loss and skin rashes, as well as constipation.
Research into other functions of L-arginine show that it plays a role in the stimulation of protein synthesis, and is effective in speeding up the regenerative process following either injury or substantial levels of exertion (for example an athlete after an intensive training session.) Some studies have also shown evidence of improved sperm production, which means that supplementing with L-arginine may be an effective treatment for some forms of male infertility. L-arginine has also been shown to help prevent degeneration in cases of chronic fatal illnesses, and to slow the degeneration of mental capacity in the very elderly.
There is also evidence that supplementing with a combination of L-arginine and omega 3 fatty acids can help to significantly shorten the recovery times of patients following surgery to remove some forms of cancer. This is probably related to its ability to boost immune system response.
Because of its healing and supplemental energy benefits, L-arginine is recommended as a supplement particularly for athletes and those undergoing high levels of physical exertion and stress on a daily basis, perhaps those who have especially physical jobs. It is also helpful for people who are recovering after an illness or following surgery, for whom it can help to speed their recovery and reduce any lingering exhaustion or fatigue, either physical or mental.