As a semi-essential amino acid, arginine is present in many food sources of protein, both animal and vegetable. This element plays a number of important roles in the functioning of the body. Wrinkles Center invites you to discover the properties of the amino acid through this article dedicated to arginine.
What is arginine?
Arginine is one of the twenty amino acids that make up proteins. It was first isolated in 1886. It was then understood that arginine plays a very important role in the body’s ammonia removal system. Already in 1939, scientists understood that arginine also played a role in the process of creatine synthesis. Since then, modern science has worked to determine the role of each of the amino acids in the body, as well as their properties and benefits.
Amino acids are involved in the elimination of ammonia, the secretion of certain hormones (including growth hormone) and the proper functioning of the immune system. Thanks to arginine, our body produces creatine, a nutrient considered non-essential but linked to the development and functioning of muscles. Moreover, the amino acid that interests us today enables the body to generate nitric oxide. This is a substance that promotes the dilatation of blood vessels. That is why arginine is often presented as the amino acid of libido.
Since arginine is considered a semi-essential amino acid, there is no recommended dietary intake for it. To make sure you consume enough, all you have to do is follow a balanced and varied diet.
Properties and benefits of arginine
Although arginine is not “essential” to us in the sense that our body produces it, it plays an important role in the overall functioning of our body. Science is now analyzing its properties and benefits. Numerous studies have been carried out on the subject.
Stimulating the immune system
As we said at the beginning of this article, arginine is involved in the proper functioning of our immune system. In any case, this is what a clinical study shows in children with respiratory tract infections. Arginine therefore makes it possible to stimulate the body’s natural defenses and reduce the frequency of infections.
Arginine is also used in hospitals, particularly for the treatment of immunodepression. Although its usefulness is still being discussed in the medical world, doctors use it to reduce the length of stay of patients who have undergone surgery. Arginine works in this context by reducing the risks of nosocomial infections and speeding up the healing process.
Improving physical performance
Researchers believe that arginine can improve athletes’ physical performance. This hypothesis is based on the roles that the amino acid plays in the body, such as participation in creatine production. This substance is involved in muscle contraction, as well as in the relationship between muscle mass and fat mass. This property is also attributed to arginine because of its role in stimulating growth hormone (GH).
Low levels of HGH are associated with weight gain, premature aging and muscle mass loss. For this reason many are using anti aging arginine containing HGH supplements such as Genf20 Plus, Sytropin, Somatropinne and Growth Factor Plus.
At the moment the research does not show any real effect of arginine on the strength or stamina of athletes. However, the amino acid seems to work on less trained individuals. In fact, it improves resistance to exercise in people with moderate or low activity. But that’s not all. Arginine also seems to increase the muscle strength of menopausal women.
In addition, it appears that the amino acid is able to improve resistance to physical exertion in people suffering from congestive heart failure, angina pectoris or people who have had a heart transplant.
The role of arginine in erectile dysfunction
Nitrogen oxide (NO) acts as a vasodilator in the body. It promotes the dilation of blood vessels and the inflow of blood that is essential for an erection. The discovery of this substance has led to the development of drugs for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. These drugs simply block the breakdown of nitric oxide in the body. As a precursor to this substance, arginine can be used to combat erectile dysfunction and improve nitric oxide levels in the body.
In a clinical trial, arginine has been shown to be effective in improving erectile quality in men with daily consumption and low levels of nitric oxide. However, it does not appear to have any effect in men with normal levels.
Arginine and female sexual dysfunction
Menopausal women have a greater physiological response when consuming arginine and yohimbine. When the amino acid is combined with ginseng, vitamins, ginkgo biloba and minerals, it can significantly improve female sexual function. It is therefore a natural remedy for libido disorders.
People with mild hypertension may take arginine supplements to significantly lower their blood pressure (Evaluation of the antihypertensive effect of L-arginine supplementation in patients with mild hypertension, evaluated with outpatient blood pressure monitoring.
In addition, the results of a preliminary study also show that the amino acid improves the pain-free walking distance of people with intermittent claudication. The results of arginine in this context are also convincing when administered by injection.
Consumption of arginine
Where do you find arginine? What food is rich in it? Who are the supplements for? Here’s some information about our consumption of amino acids, and arginine in particular.
Dietary sources of arginine
Arginine is considered a “semi-essential” amino acid. In general, the body is able to synthesize enough to meet your needs. However, under certain conditions, the endogenous contribution may be insufficient and a supplement of arginine may be necessary. This may be the case, for example, after a serious infection or trauma. But also in the context of a major operation.
Because it is a component of protein, arginine occurs in various foods. These include grains (oats, brown rice, buckwheat), legumes and nuts. These are the main vegetable sources of arginine. But the semi-essential amino acid also occurs in protein sources of animal origin such as fish, red meat, dairy products and poultry. Arginine is also found in chocolate, spirulina and soy.
Today, food supplements with a high concentration of arginine are available on the market. These are mostly synthetic products, although some can be made from natural ingredients. Before purchasing such a product, inquire about its composition, origin, method of production, and arginine content.
An arginine deficiency, is it possible?
An arginine deficiency is quite rare, but it is still possible. Usually it is characterized by hair loss, poor wound healing and skin rashes. This deficiency can also manifest itself in liver steatosis (fatty liver degeneration or hepatitis) and constipation.
Possible causes of arginine deficiency can be: excessive lysine use, serious infections or injuries, and conditions that cause the body to overproduce ammonia. Other causes include chronic malnutrition and congenital diseases that prevent normal urea synthesis. To reduce the risk of deficiency or malnutrition, it is usually sufficient to maintain a balanced diet all year round and ensure adequate protein intake, regardless of its origin.
In what cases do they complement each other in arginine?
Arginine products are usually intended for bodybuilders, athletes, victims of muscle injuries or people with heart problems. The dosage then depends on the person’s diet. In most cases they are between three and ten grams per day, to be taken between thirty and sixty minutes before training or before going to sleep.
There are food supplements with arginine, which are usually prescribed by doctors when needed. It is relatively rare to take these supplements because our body can usually synthesize enough arginine. If you suspect that this amino acid (or any other food) is missing, don’t hesitate to talk to your health professional.
Contraindications, side effects and interactions
Some contraindications and side effects are related to supplementation with arginine. The amino acid also interacts with drugs and other elements (food and plants).
Contraindications for supplementation
As a general rule, people who have already had a heart attack or are at high risk of having a heart attack should not take supplements containing arginine. This amino acid only increases the risk of heart disease and therefore the risk of death from heart disease. In addition, in the absence of complete toxicological information on the amino acid, pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised not to take it. Finally, arginine dietary supplements are not recommended for people with asthma, allergies, herpes, kidney failure and liver cirrhosis.
Adverse effects of arginine
As you will have understood, these contraindications refer to supplementation with arginine, not to normal consumption as part of a balanced diet. It should also be noted that supplementation with arginine has few side effects. They are therefore usually benign and relatively rare. They include headaches, gastrointestinal complaints and diarrhea.
The vasodilatory and hypotensive effects of arginine are likely to be added to two of the plants, foods and drugs with the same properties. Supplements containing arginine may reverse the effects of lysine treatments. Lysine treatments are most commonly used to treat herpes simplex virus.
Things to remember
Arginine is an amino acid that is semi-essential to the body and plays a number of important roles. But this element also has some interesting properties and benefits for our body. In order to benefit from this, we only need a healthy, balanced and varied diet, including different sources of plant and animal protein.
- L-arginine supplementation and risk factors of cardiovascular diseases in healthy men: a double-blind randomized clinical trial
- Growth hormone, arginine and exercise.
- Therapeutic Benefits of l-Arginine: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses
- Adverse gastrointestinal effects of arginine and related amino acids.