How was The Universe, our very own home, created? A question asked countless times over the ages, with countless answers that range from the practical to the spiritual, from Hinduism’s theory of Brahma creating the world, to the Big-Bang theory. But one factor common among all of them is; it took time and was far from easy.
The World wasn’t formed in a day and the same goes for your ideal healthy body! It demands appropriate nutrition, rigorous training and a considerable amount of time. These factors are interrelated. But nutrition is something that needs to be dug deeper. While you could gain nutrition from the food you eat, you might need supplements as well to fulfill the gap that exists between the demands of your body and the supplies your body gets through food. And that gap is fulfilled through supplements. One such supplement that contributes and aids in a variety of functions in your body is L-Arginine. What is it? How does it benefit your body? We will help you decode!
What is L-Arginine?
Like any other amino acids, L-arginine is a building block of Proteins and as it is well-known, the proteins are the building blocks of muscles and various types of tissues. But do you know this amino acid is one among the conditionally essential amino acids?
L-arginine is generally produced by healthy individuals and also could be obtained by the food they eat. But during chronic illness or when individuals are suffering from genetic disorders, their body might need to be supplemented with external L-Arginine. Apart from being obtained naturally from the diet (that includes plant and animal proteins such as dairy products, poultry, meat, fish and nuts), L-arginine could be taken in the form of dietary supplements.
Majority of L-arginine is used to get rid of ammonia (a waste product), by processing it into a less toxic urea and also to synthesize creatine and ornithine. A small portion of L-arginine is used as a precursor in the production of Nitric Oxide (NO). NO is a compound that dilates the blood vessels, lowers the blood pressure and maintains a healthy cardiovascular system.
Some studies support the amazing benefits of L-arginine to your body whereas the other research advocates that L-arginine may pose harmful effects on some individuals. But before jumping into any conclusion, let’s unravel and know more about the uses, benefits and side effects of L-Arginine.
Uses of L-Arginine:
As mentioned before, L-arginine, being a precursor in the production of NO, could improve blood flow in the body. This, in turn, helps in different heart conditions such as chest pain, high blood pressure, leg cramping, weakness and erectile dysfunction (ED).
L-Arginine could also be used to boost the immune system, improve athletic performance, reduce the recovery time after surgery and promote weight loss. L-arginine could also be used for bodybuilding.
Benefits of L-Arginine:
Being aware of the uses of L-arginine, now, let’s look into the benefits these uses could offer.
Basically, L-arginine offers two effects to your body – It helps in building the body protein and in the production of Nitric Oxide (NO). These effects could offer an array of potential benefits:
Reduces blood pressure:
NO produced by L-arginine plays a crucial role in relaxing and dilating the blood vessels. This prevents the blood clots, reduces the blood pressure and improves the blood flow. With the increase in blood flow, the risk of hypertension and stroke goes down.
Reduces the risk of Heart disease
The dilation of blood vessels due to NO (produced with the help of L-arginine) could reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases.
Increases insulin levels:
Diabetes is caused when there is less amount of insulin to aid in breaking down of glucose molecules and as a result, the blood glucose level is higher. L-arginine supplementation increases insulin levels in the blood and controls the blood glucose levels.
Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes:
According to a study, individuals prone to Type 2 Diabetes, consistently had lower levels of L-arginine because of the disrupted arginine metabolic pathways. Supplementing with L-arginine supplements could restore molecular imbalances and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Reduces fat mass and triglycerides:
L-arginine aids in breaking down of the fatty acids and reducing fat mass. This amino acid is also known for triglyceride levels in diabetics.
Increases immune Response:
NO produced with the help of L-arginine increases the immune response in the body by stimulating the immune system and aiding in combat against pathogens.
Consuming 3 g of Arginine along with 3 g of Lysine on a daily basis could reduce stress and anxiety by releasing stress-relieving hormones.
Maintains memory during aging:
According to a study, with age, L-arginine levels and NO levels are decreased in the section of the brain which is associated with the memory. When supplied with L-arginine supplements, it helped in keeping up the brain functions and maintaining the memory.
Generally, low fertility in women is due to a poor ovarian response to hormones and low fertility in men is due to low sperm count or low sperm motility. Supplementing with L-arginine could increase pregnancy rates in women by increasing the ovarian response to hormones, and in men, it could protect oxidative damage caused to sperm by increasing the NO.
Treats erectile dysfunction (ED):
The increase in NO caused by L-arginine relaxes the muscles and blood vessels in the penis. As a result, the penis dilates and has an increase in blood flow. This could help in maintaining erection.
L-arginine coupled with omega-3 fatty acids and nucleotides are known to reduce the recovery times, promote wound healing and shield against infections. It also increases lean body muscles in people suffering from cancer.
Side-effects of L-Arginine:
Just like any other supplements, even L-arginine has some potential side effects. Some of the common side effects are:
- The laxative effect of L-Arginine
- Bloating, abdominal pain
- Airway inflammation
- Low Blood pressure
- Worsening asthma
- Blood abnormalities
Other serious side effects of L-arginine in a certain group of people are:
- Serious illness or death in children or infants.
- Difficulty in controlling the blood pressure during surgery
- Worsens herpes flares
- Increases the risk of death after heart attack.
Moderation is the mother of good health and your body can take 3 to 6 grams at a time. Arginine could be taken up to 3 times in a day with a combined dose of 15-18 g. But taking more than 10 g of Arginine at a time could lead to gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea. L-Arginine could be found in red meat, dairy products, nuts, fish and poultry. It could also be taken as a supplement in the form of 500 mg capsules.
Food is like a fuel which could help the vehicle to run efficiently but providing supplements to your body is like oiling which could help the vehicles to run smoothly. But before providing an adequate amount of L-arginine supplements, be aware of possible benefits and side effects, exercise some precautions and consult your doctor if you have any doubts.