L-arginine is an amino acid found in foods – such as meat and dairy products — some whey protein supplements and l-arginine isolated supplements. When ingested, arginine converts to nitric oxide, which has many health benefits that include sexual well-being and issues that involve blood flow, such as leg swelling.
Arginine has promising results in helping with athletic performances, bodybuilding and growing muscles in general. These l-arginine benefits are based on clinical research, some studies are based on small samples. Others have larger samples with double-blind placebo trails that produce more efficient results.
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L-arginine is more effective when paired with L-citrulline or pycnogenol to combat erectile dysfunction and improve exercise performance.
Helps Treat Erectile Dysfunction
There are several causes for erectile dysfunction, such as neurological and psychological issues. However, nitric oxide (NO) plays an important role in a man’s ability to achieve an erection. NO helps trigger the relaxation of smooth muscles in the corpus cavernosum, which improve an erection. Sexual arousal in women also go through a similar process.
The Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy published a study, involving 40 men between the ages of 25 and 45 to investigate the effects of l-arginine on achieving an erection. After 30 days, only 2 out of 40 men experienced a normal erection with 1.7 grams of l-arginine. However, when paired with 40 milligrams of pycnogenol two to three times a day, over 90 percent of the men achieved a normal erection with three months.
The researchers did not report any side effects and this study suggest l-arginine is only effective when combined with pycnogenol. People with mild erectile dysfunction may benefit from taking these supplements. Also, eating beets and moderate exercise will improve erections.
L-arginine Can Boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH) Release
Boosting your HGH levels is effective for growing muscles and losing fat. It also helps improve your energy levels, well-being and cognitive abilities. HGH is not a well-understood hormone and taking synthetic versions of it is somewhat controversial.
Arginine is one of the natural ways you can boost your growth hormone secretion. The “Current Opinion In Clinical Nutrition And Metabolic Care” note that an oral supplementation of arginine increases HGH levels by about 100 percent. However, l-arginine inhibits the growth of HGH when combined with exercise.
Exercise can boost HGH levels up to 500 percent, while it only increases by 200 percent with l-arginine combined with exercise. This study suggest that you should skip the arginine in your pre-workout supplementation for bodybuilding. However, it could aid in exercise recovery or for cardiovascular workouts.
Help Improve Therapy for Heart-related Issues
Medline Plus warns that l-arginine is not effective for preventing a heart attack and can be dangerous for those who have had a recent heart attack. Therefore, consult a doctor before using l-arginine if you have suffered from a heart attack or heart-related diseases.
The journal of “Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity” notes that l-arginine can help treat heart issues related to restricted blood flow by producing nitric oxide, which relaxes the blood vessels. Due to it’s antioxidant properties, taking 3 grams of l-arginine daily (15 days) helped increase the level of free radical fighting enzymes, which was found to be beneficial to those in therapy for chest pain or myocardial ischemia.
Aid in Lowering Blood Pressure
A study published in the “Alternative Medicine Review” analysed the effects of l-arginine on the blood pressure of healthy volunteers. The 29 volunteers were given about 1 gram of l-arginine, two times per day (about 2 grams daily); after 7 days, researchers found a small decreases in diastolic and systolic blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure was non-significant; however, in combination with other blood pressure therapies or a higher arginine dose, it could be more effective.
Boost Nitric Oxide Levels Naturally
It’s been established that l-arginine boost nitric oxide production, which is the effect responsible for it’s blood and heart circulatory benefits. As mentioned in the introduction, l-arginine appears to be more effective when combined with other amino acids or antioxidants.
In 2008, the “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” published a study on the effects on an oral supplementation of L-citrulline and L-arginine on nitric oxide. L-citruline is more absorbable and increases the concentration of arginine in the blood – this boosted nitric oxide release. The effects are dose dependant and the highest amount used in the study was 3 grams.
In theory, combining citruline and arginine should improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction – similar to l-arginine and pycnogenol as discussed in the first.
Improves Exercise Tolerance
Supplementing arginine can improve your muscle recovery and exercise tolerance. A study published in the “Journal of Applied Physiology” note that healthy volunteers who consumed a drink containing 6 grams of l-arginine could exercise longer and use oxygen more efficiently than those on placebo.
The subject in the study exercised an hour after taking an l-arginine supplement. The subjects used less oxygen than those on placebo to complete the exercise. This suggest l-arginine can be an effective natural performance enhancing supplement.
L-arginine Can Aid in Weight Loss (Burn Belly Fat)
The “Journal of Dietary Supplements” conducted a study with non-diabetic, obese female volunteers. They received 3 grams of l-arginine three times per day and were advised on lifestyle changes. After 12 weeks, some volunteers had a significantly lower waist circumference (from about 46 inches to 42 inches) and overall weight loss of about 6 pounds.
Furthermore, l-arginine weight loss benefits is linked to it’s effects on exercise tolerance. Those who exercise to lose weight will also benefit from being able to workout for longer and thus lose more calories.
Can Aid in Diabetes Treatment
Long-term use of arginine helps diabetics regress to a more normal glucose tolerance level, according to a study published in the “Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism” journal. In other words, arginine helped improve the way the participants break down sugars. The participants in the study suffered from impaired glucose tolerance and they also experienced improved white blood cell count and insulin sensitivity.
However, the study concludes that arginine did not reduce the risk of diabetes in those who have pre-diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.
Another study, published in the “The American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism” looked at the effect of arginine in obese participants. The subjects took about 8 grams of arginine daily along with a weight-loss diet and exercise.
Supplementing with l-arginine improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism more than exercising and dieting alone. Arginine also improved blood flow and increase antioxidants in the blood that combat oxidative stress.
People with diabetes may benefit from taking an l-arginine supplement when combined with moderate exercise and a balanced diet.