While not exactly an “essential” amino acid — meaning an amino acid that the body cannot make on its own and, therefore, must get from outside sources — L-arginine is considered somewhat essential because it’s highly important for many functions yet usually present in low quantities, especially as someone gets older. One of the biggest benefits of taking arginine is its ability to improve blood flow and circulation. In the body, it is converted into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to open wider.
–Boosts Exercise Performance: is known to effectively improve blood flow, which means it helps bring nutrients and oxygen to muscle and joint tissues. This means with L-arginine’s help, you can enjoy more of the many benefits of exercise but with less pain. It’s even used in some cases for increasing heat and circulation to damaged joints or cold hands and feet, especially in people with complications from other health conditions like poor blood flow, arthritis or diabetes.
– Increases production of human growth hormone: some studies have found that growth hormone levels can significantly increase with L-arginine supplementation in doses between five to nine grams a day. In most cases, arginine increases resting growth hormone levels at least 100 percent (in comparison, regular exercise can increase growth hormone levels by 300 percent to 500 percent). Even more powerful is the combination of L-arginine plus exercise.
– Helps Treat Erectile Dysfunction and Infertility: L-arginine is involved in the process of proper cell replication in addition to enhancing blood circulation, so it can help improve both sperm production and motility. Men who deal with cardiovascular problems tied to low levels of NO in the blood are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and fertility issues, since an erection requires the relaxation of smooth muscles triggered by nitric oxide.
– Aids in people with heart disease: 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 its 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” analyzed 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 decrease 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.
Main sources of L-arginine:
– Turkey breast: one cooked breast has 16 grams!
– Pork loin: has a content of 14 grams per rib.
– Chiken: one chicken breast has 70 percent of your daily recommended protein and almost 9 grams of arginine.
– Pumpkin seeds: one cup of pumpkin seeds has almost 7 grams. Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of the minerals iron and zinc.
– Soyabeans: one cup of roasted soybeans has 4.6 grams of arginine. Soybeans are also a great source of the minerals potassium and magnesium.
– Peanuts: a cup of peanuts contains 4.6 grams of arginine.
– Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans: contain 3.878 g per cup. Chickpeas are a good source of healthful fats and protein.
The dosage of L-arginine depends a lot on the condition it’s being used to treat. For example, with help treating heart conditions or erectile dysfunction, three to six grams daily (divided into two doses) might be taken, while for enhancing exercise performance, doses up to nine grams a day are not uncommon. For generally healthy adults who are looking to prevent inflammation and benefit from better circulation, about one gram daily (1,000 milligrams) is usually the recommended dose.