L-arginine is one of the most common natural amino acids. It is usually produced by the human body in the sufficient amounts, but it has to be supplemented to preterm babies and people suffering from different medical problems. This amino acid is necessary for children that have genetic problems with the enzymes responsible for arginine production, and also in people who suffered serious injuries, infections or burns.
In the body, L-arginine is responsible for excretion of waste products (ammonia), used for synthesis of other amino acids (L-glutamate, L-proline) and also for creatine production. L-arginine is important for release of different hormones in the body, including prolactin and growth hormone. Because it produces nitric oxide, this amino acid is used to help patients suffering from intermittent claudication (limping), erectile dysfunction and atherosclerosis.
L-arginine is produced in the kidneys and liver, but some foods are also relevant sources of it. Plant and animal products can be rich in arginine, especially: meat, poultry, fish, milk and dairy products. Soy products, nuts and other plant proteins contain even more L-arginine than animal proteins.
Where to Use L-arginine
L-arginine is used in the therapy of heart-related problems, healing of wounds, erectile dysfunction, hypertension, migraines and interstitial cystitis.
This amino acid makes nitric oxide in the body and potentiates its action, leading to vasodilatation (relaxing of the blood vessels muscles) and increased blood flow. Because of that fact, many people suffering from heart diseases and erectile dysfunction use L-arginine.
However, some people should be careful when using these supplements. Studies have revealed that L-arginine might cause lethal consequences in patients who had heart attack, and worsening of cardiac shock symptoms.
Sometimes, L-arginine is used instead of the sildenafil (Viagra) to treat erectile dysfunction. There is a difference in the mechanism of their actions, but both medications produce the same effect – erection. For this indication, L-arginine should be taken every day. Women are also encouraged to use this amino acid to improve their sexual function.
People suffering from severe wounds are also patients that can be treated with L-arginine supplements. L-arginine is enhancing synthesis of L-proline and in that way causing better collagen production.
L-arginine Adverse Effects
Some of the L-arginine sides effects include: nausea, headaches and also digestion problems, heartburn and ulcers. It might be responsible for low blood pressure, because of its way of action.
It is not recommended for the treatment of people with the history of heart attacks, genital herpes, diabetes mellitus, and liver or kidney problems. Patients using, NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, painkillers), ACEI (angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors), lysine or diuretic medications that spare potassium should be always supervised by their doctors.
Do not use L-arginine in children or in pregnant women.