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  • Ingredients Explained: L-Arginine

    Ingredients Explained: L-Arginine

    What is L-arginine

    L-arginine, a semi-essential amino acid, is both produced by the body and available as a supplement. It plays a crucial role in various bodily processes, such as the creation of nitric oxide, which boosts blood flow and circulation and therefore in theory, improves your workouts.

    Why would someone take L-arginine

    From a training perspective, L-arginine has been shown to enhance exercise performance by increasing blood flow, dilating blood vessels, and promoting the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles (Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 2005; Current Sports Medicine Reports 2009). Some research also indicates that L-arginine stimulates the production of growth hormone and insulin, which can aid in muscle growth and recovery (Nitric Oxide 2008). L-arginine may also reduce muscle fatigue and improve endurance.

    Additionally, some people take L-arginine for its potential health benefits, including improving heart health, enhancing sexual function, aiding in wound healing, and reducing symptoms of conditions such as angina and erectile dysfunction. 

    Who’s L-arginine not for

    Whilst a body of research supports L-arginine benefits in exercise performance, there are some things to consider.

    If the goal of supplementing with L-arginine is to improve nitric oxide production and exercise performance, a cheaper alternative like L-citrulline may be a better option. This is because L-citrulline is absorbed more efficiently through the intestines than L-arginine (Khalaf et al., 2019). If you have experienced gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating after taking a pre-workout, it may be due to a high dose of L-arginine mixed with caffeine.

    L-arginine may interact with some medications, such as blood pressure medications, and may cause side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating. People with liver or kidney problems should consult their physician before taking L-arginine supplements.

    What to look for in an L-arginine supplement

    When choosing an L-arginine supplement, look for one that is as pure as possible, with the highest concentration of the amino acid. L-arginine malate 2:1 is a widely available alternative to pure L-arginine, while L-arginine malate 1:1 is less ideal. Note: Some companies may not specify the type of L-arginine on their label - don't be afraid to ask!

    How to take L-arginine

    L-arginine supplements can be taken orally. The recommended dosage can vary based on the individual's needs. Typically you’ll find that the dosages range from 1g-10g

    When to take L-arginine

    The suggestion around when to take L-arginine will vary based on the individual's needs, as well as the purpose behind its use. 

    Can L-arginine be used with other supplements

    We previously mentioned that L-arginine is a common ingredient in pre-workout supplements as a nitric oxide enhancer. However, we prefer other compounds, such as L-citrulline, over L-arginine for pre-workouts.

    Some research suggests that it may not pair well with medications, such as Viagra, so it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before combining supplements with medication, especially if you have an existing condition.

    What differs from product to product

    As previously mentioned, L-arginine comes in a variety of grades. Our suggestion? Go for the good stuff, aka 100% pure L-arginine. With that in mind, choosing between products is easy peasy - simply pick the one that fits your budget and/or aligns with your preferred brand.

    References:

    Ali A, Al-Sohaibani M, Al-Daghri N. (2005). "Effects of oral administration of L-arginine on athletic performance of young soccer players," Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 4, pp. 112-116.

    Nosaka N, Suzuki K. (2008). "The role of nitric oxide in exercise performance and adaptations," Nitric Oxide, 19(2), pp. 149-156.

    Madar Z, Chen J, Lipsitz LA. (2009). "The effects of L-arginine supplementation on athletic performance," Current Sports Medicine Reports, 8(6), pp. 305-311.

    Khalaf, D., Krüger, M., Wehland, M., Infanger, M., & Grimm, D. (2019). The Effects of Oral l-Arginine and l-Citrulline Supplementation on Blood Pressure. Nutrients, 11(7), 1679.

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