Arginine (sometimes called L-Arginine) is one of the 20 amino acids that form proteins in the body. The human body (except in the case of pre-term infants) manufactures arginine to a certain extent. This means the ideal recommended amount for all body functions should be obtained from another source.
Some of the arginine must be supplied from whole foods. It is found naturally in meat, some dairy products, gelatine, seafood ,wheat germ and wheat flour, buckwheat, oatmeal, all nuts and beans, garlic, chocolate and raw onions.
Arginine is most popular for its role in stimulating the release of HGH or Human Growth Hormone (somatotropin) and related Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF) levels.
Several studies have measured the ability of supplemental L-arginine, both alone and in combination with other amino acids, to increase the GH level in athletic and non-athletic individuals. Potential benefits of an increased GH level include reduction in body fat, improved healing and recovery and increased growth rate and muscle mass.
The Nitric Oxide (NO) boosting effects of arginine seem to be one of its most popular benefits. Nitric oxide in the blood stream causes relaxation of the vascular tissues and vasodilation, resulting in better blood flow.
Other listed benefits of arginine supplementation include the following:
- Improved immune system function
- Protein synthesis
- Nitrogen detoxification which reduces ammonia levels
- Creatine synthesis
- Reduces healing time of injuries
- Plays a role in the formation of bones and tendons
- Supports male fertility, including sperm production
- Reduces risks of blood clots and stroke
- Supports normal blood pressure
- Improves vascular function for patients with angina
- Helps recovery after heart attack
- Helps prevent and treat cardiovascular disease
- Helps reduce growth of cancerous tumors
Ideally, take three to five grams of arginine in the morning, before workouts and at bedtime. It works best when taken on an empty stomach so try to take it an hour before a meal or a pre-workout protein shake.