February 8, 2023

Arginine: What You Need to Know

Major Team

What is Arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid that serves multiple functions in the human body. It is crucial for wound healing, immune function, hormone balance, and blood flow. Because the body cannot always produce enough arginine to compensate for increased arginase, it is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. So, under certain conditions, you need to get some from your diet.

Its highest concentrations in foods are in meat, poultry, dairy, nuts, soy products, and fish.

What Arginine Offers You

L-arginine is an amino acid that plays a role in various physiological processes. Evidence suggests that L-arginine supplements may enhance exercise performance by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body, leading to improved blood flow and oxygenation to muscles. 

Additionally, L-arginine may have beneficial effects on blood pressure, as studies have shown that it may help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. 

Arginine becomes essential during conditions such as infection or trauma, and its depletion can lead to adverse effects like impaired immune function and blood flow. Hence, arginine supplements are frequently used in the clinical setting to treat several conditions. L-arginine may also benefit individuals with diabetes by improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

Other Advantages

L-arginine supplements have additional benefits, such as improving erectile dysfunction in doses ranging from 1.5 to 5 grams daily, according to a 2019 review of 10 studies, and potentially treating and preventing preeclampsia during pregnancy, a dangerous condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine, as demonstrated in studies.

Are There Any Side Effects?

L-arginine, when taken in supplement form, is considered safe and well-tolerated according to research, even when taken daily for long periods of 1 year or more. However, taking daily doses of 9 grams or higher can lead to unpleasant side effects such as bloating, abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. 

It is not advised for individuals who have recently experienced a heart attack (as it might increase the risk of death), have a guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency, are children under 16 years of age, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or are adults over 65 years of age without prior approval from a healthcare provider. Besides, those with allergies or asthma should exercise caution when taking the supplement, as it may worsen these conditions.

Possible Interactions

L-arginine may interact with anticoagulants, antiplatelet drugs, blood pressure drugs, diabetes drugs, isoproterenol, nitrates, potassium-sparing diuretics, and sildenafil, causing an increased risk of bleeding, low blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels, or hyperkalemia. Consult a doctor before using L-arginine.

How Much Arginine Should You Take?

For blood pressure, 6 to 30 grams per day for 2 to 24 weeks has been effective. For erectile dysfunction, 1.5 to 5 grams per day is advised. Three to 4 grams daily for up to 12 weeks is usual for treating preeclampsia. Dosages over 9 grams a day may produce gastrointestinal adverse effects. For optimum absorption, take L-arginine between meals.