L-Arginine, often referred to simply as arginine, is an amino acid which the body uses to make protein. Most people get enough arginine from their diet, as it is found in common foods like fish, dairy products, poultry, beans, nuts, leafy vegetables and red meat. Pumpkin seeds and peanuts also contain it. Arginine is used by the body for various purposes, including our immune and hormone functions, healing wounds, supporting the kidneys, and dilating the arteries.
Arginine is used as a supplement for various conditions, but for only a few of these conditions is there good evidence that it can help. This is because people are rarely found to be deficient.
But this supplement is thought to benefit some conditions by relaxing and opening arteries. Medline has published effectiveness ratings for this supplement, based on scientific studies, and has found that arginine is possibly effective for relief from the symptoms of angina. It is also possibly effective for erectile dysfuntion (a 5g dose daily) as it helps the body’s blood flow. There is also evidence that arginine can reduce hypertension / high blood pressure, and reduce pain and cramping in people suffering from leg pain also caused by poor blood flow. (1)
Examine.com summarises the significance of L-Arginine this way:
“L-Arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid found in the diet. It is a dietary supplement used mostly by athletic people … It’s particularly important during periods of illness and chronic conditions like hypertension and type II diabetes, as these states tend to be characterized by an increase in the enzyme that degrades L-arginine … resulting in a transient deficiency; this precedes an increase in blood pressure in these states, and can be partially remedied by an increase in L-arginine intake or resolution of the illness/disease state.” (2)
In addition, Healthline reports that a recent study has concluded that arginine supplements may help to support the immune system. (3)
Arginine is not a prescription medication and can be bought over the counter and online.
As it is such a commonly used supplement there is a huge amount of discussion online about the efficacy and the usefulness of arginine. This covers its use by bodybuilders, by those with mild or severe hypertension, by those attending gymns and who like to work out, by those who have heard about its usefulness for erectile disfunction, and by those who like to ‘stack’ supplements for optimum effect. A common question concerns the good reasons (or not) for taking arginine separately when you can just take a whey-based protein powder every day instead. To explore subjects like this further, you could check Reddit. (4)