What is arginine? Why do we need it?
Arginine is an essential amino acid produced naturally by the body. It plays
several roles in the body, including an increase in protein synthesis (which promotes
wound healing); removal of excess ammonia; stimulation of the immune system; and
promoting the secretion of several hormones, including glucagon, insulin and human
growth hormone. Arginine is also a precursor to nitric oxide, which keeps blood
vessels dilated and allows the heart to receive an adequate oxygen supply.
Several tests have been conducted on arginines properties. Large amounts of arginine
help wounds heal faster in both animals and humans. Some studies of men with low
sperm counts have experience an increase in the number of sperm while taking arginine
supplements. There is also preliminary evidence that arginine reduces angina pain
and may help regulate blood cholesterol levels.
much arginine should I take?
Normally, the body makes enough
arginine, even when it is lacking in the diet. Most studies on arginine have used
between 2-30 grams per day. Arginine is also sometimes combined with arginine
prior to physical activity.
What are some good sources
of arginine? What forms are available?
Dairy products, meat, poultry and dish are all excellent sources of arginine. Many nuts and chocolate
also contain significant amounts of arginine. It is available in powder, tablet
or capsule form, and is sold either alone or in conjunction with other amino acids.
can happen if I dont get enough arginine? What can happen if I take too
much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?
arginine is produced naturally by the body, most people do not need to take extra
supplements. However, during times of unusual stress or injury, the body may not
be able to produce the necessary amount of arginine. Patients with such conditions
should consult with a qualified health care practitioner about arginine supplements.
with kidney or liver disease should consult with a health care provider before
taking arginine supplements. Patients with herpes should not take arginine because
it may stimulate replication of the virus.
Large amounts of arginine may both promote and/or interfere with the growth of cancer.
While preliminary research has shown that arginine stimulates the immune system, a high
intake (>30 grams per day) has also bee associated with increased cancer cell growth in
humans. As of this writing, it remains unclear whether arginine is helpful or harmful
for people with cancer.
As of this writing, there are no known drug interactions
Ehrén I, Lundberg JO, Adolfsson J. Effects of L-arginine treatment on symptoms
and bladder nitric oxide levels in patients with interstitial cystitis. Urology
- Korting GE, Smith SD, Wheeler MA, et al. A randomized double-blind trial
of oral L-arginine for treatment of interstitial cystitis. J Urol 1999;161:55865.
- Marcell TJ, Taaffe DR, Hawkins SA, et al. Oral arginine does not
stimulate basal or augment exercise-induced GH secretion in either young or old adults. J Gerontol A Biol
Sci Med Sci 1999;54:M3959.
- Smith SD, Wheeler MA, Foster HE Jr, Weiss RM. Improvement in interstitial
cystitis symptom scores during treatment with oral L-arginine. J Urol 1997;158:7038.
- Wolf A, Zalpour C, Theilmeier G, et al. Dietary L-arginine supplementation
normalizes platelet aggregation in hypercholesterolemic humans. J Am Coll Cardiol