L-arginine is an amino acid that helps the body build protein. Your body usually makes all the L-arginine it needs. L-arginine is also found in most protein-rich foods, including fish, red meat, poultry, soy, whole grains, beans, and dairy products. As a supplement, L-arginine can be used orally and topically. It can also be administered intravenously (IV). Because L-arginine acts as a vasodilator, opening (dilating) blood vessels, many people take oral L-arginine to treat heart conditions and erectile dysfunction.
Arginine, also known as L-arginine, is involved in a number of different functions in the body. They include: Wound healing, Helping the kidneys remove waste products from the body, Maintaining immune and hormone function, Dilates and relaxes the arteries. As a natural dietary supplement, arginine has garnered particular attention for its possible heart benefits.
L-arginine is considered to be generally safe. It might be effective at lowering blood pressure, reducing the symptoms of angina and PAD, and treating erectile dysfunction due to a physical cause. However, if you take a blood pressure drug, talk to your doctor before using L-arginine.
Research on the use of L-arginine for specific conditions shows Angina. Studies suggest that L-arginine might decrease symptoms and improve quality of life in people with a mild to severe form of this type of chest pain. High blood pressure (hypertension). Some research has shown that oral L-arginine can lower blood pressure in healthy people, people with mild blood pressure elevation and diabetes, and in people with a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart (pulmonary hypertension).
Infusions of L-arginine also appear to lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. High blood pressure during pregnancy. Some studies show that L-arginine infusions may lower blood pressure in pregnant women who develop high blood pressure. Preeclampsia. L-arginine infusions may lower blood pressure in women with this pregnancy complication.
Some research shows that taking oral L-arginine might help prevent preeclampsia in pregnant women. Erectile dysfunction. Taking oral L-arginine might improve sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction due to a physical cause. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD). When taken orally or by infusion for a short period of time, L-arginine may improve symptoms and blood flow in people with this circulatory condition.
Nitric Oxide and Arginine
In the body, the amino acid arginine changes into nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is a powerful neurotransmitter that helps blood vessels relax and also improves circulation. Some evidence shows that arginine may help improve blood flow in the arteries of the heart. That may improve symptoms of clogged arteries, chest pain or angina, and coronary artery disease. However, there currently is no data on how the long-term use of arginine affects cholesterol or heart health. Since arginine may help arteries relax and improve blood flow, it may also help with erectile dysfunction.
There are other potential health benefits with arginine, such as possible reduction of blood pressure in some people and improved walking distance in patients with intermittent leg cramping and weakness known as intermittent claudication. However, the scientific studies are not conclusive enough for experts to make any firm recommendations. Not all studies on arginine have been positive. A 2006 study showed that arginine was not helpful — and may have been harmful — for treating heart attacks in combination with standard treatment.
According to the Mayo Clinic, arginine supplements may have benefits for people with certain cardiovascular conditions. For example, they may help treat: coronary artery disease clogged arteries
Arginine supplements may also have perks for people with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). This condition develops when your arteries narrow and reduce blood flow to your limbs. Most people with PVD develop it in their legs.
L-arginine also helps rid the body of ammonia (a waste product) and stimulates the release of insulin. In addition, your body uses arginine to make nitric oxide (a compound that relaxes the blood vessels). Although some studies suggest that L-arginine may benefit certain health conditions, other research shows that L-arginine may have harmful effects on some individuals.
Taking L-arginine in combination with an omega-3 fatty acid and nucleotides have been explored to reduce recovery time, protect against infection, and promote wound healing after surgery. The supplement in combination with other supplements has also been used to increase lean body mass in people with cancer. Both Cardio Cocktail and Cardio for Life have 5 grams of Arginine in each serving.