L-arginine is most commonly known and used in the fitness industry for its ability to stimulate the release of growth hormone, hence its use in the body building world for enhancing stamina, strength, and performance. In this post we will discuss in more detail what are L-Arginine benefits and side effects so you can make a more informed decision about whether this is a supplement that is right for you.
What Exactly is L-Arginine?
L-arginine is an amino acid used by the body in the biosynthesis of proteins and is found naturally in dairy products, red meat, fish, poultry, and eggs. It is converted in the body to nitric oxide: a chemical that opens blood vessels wider, which in turn improves the flow of blood around the body.
It is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that it is not always essential except maybe in times of illness and stress, such as the stress put on the body due to hard training or lifting weights. These conditions will cause catabolic stress and injury, and under these circumstances the body requirements for L-arginine will be much higher.
It also has many other uses as well as just stimulating your growth hormone, so let’s dive right in and take a look!
WHAT ARE L-ARGININE BENEFITS AND SIDE EFFECTS?
1. ANTI AGING
One of the most powerful effects of L-arginine is its ability to boost immune function and fight the inflammation that causes diseases in the first place. Out of control chronic inflammation is now thought to be the root cause of almost every disease and illness of our time, and reducing it as much as possible is literally one of the BEST things we can do for our health.
It works like this: its antioxidant mechanisms help it to scavenge free radicals in the body; these free radicals accelerate telomere aging, and with the shortening of telomeres comes faster aging and increased susceptibility to age related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, alzeimer’s, dementia, and heart disease.
Eat as many antioxidants as possible:-
Not a pretty list, and the very reason why it is SO important to have a regular high intake of antioxidants be they from l-arginine and from other sources such as those found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Please read this list of the highest antioxidant rich foods to find out more.
Supplementing l-arginine with a combination of vitamin C and Omega 3 fatty acids will make for an effective all round anti aging combination. And taking l-arginine along with regular exercise (which is vital for heart health AND to keep muscle mass up, especially as you age), will bring on hormonal changes that will help build a more powerful, youthful, and toned body.
The role of collagen
L-arginine also helps improve collagen synthesis in the skin. We’ve all heard of the importance of collagen in the aging process, it declines as we get older giving the appearance of thinner, less plump skin. Taking supplements that help synthesise this precious collagen from the inside (such as l-arginine) is a very important part of negating this; most so called collagen infused face creams and beauty products are NOT able to cross through the skin barrier to be of any use, and are therefore an expensive waste of money.
2. BOOSTS PERFORMANCE WHILST EXERCISING
L-arginine improves the flow of blood, making it easier for the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to muscle and joint tissues. This will have the effect of giving you less pain both during and AFTER exercise of any kind (especially weight bearing exercise where muscles are more easily torn).
The main reason l-arginine is so commonly used in the body building and fitness industry is because of its ability to naturally increase the production of HGH (human growth hormone), and other amino acids such as L-glutamate, L Proline, and creatine.
L-arginine improves insulin sensitivity, which makes its part in metabolic health important as it will help build lean muscle, fight joint inflammation and pain, repair injured tissue, and is also a great soother for the central nervous system.
How Much Do I Need To Feel the Benefits?
The most powerful muscle building effects from l-arginine come when combined with exercise, especially weight bearing, gym, circuit training, and boxing. Doses of 5-9 grams per day will increase resting growth levels by a minimum of 100%, and when exercising by up to 500%.
3. FERTILITY TREATMENT
L-arginine helps blood circulation and the replication of cells, thus helping to improve sperm production and motility. Some studies show that combined with other anti inflammatory’s and antioxidants, l-arginine supplements can significantly improve up to 92% of male infertility cases.
This proves even more true for highly stressed men, as stress lowers l-arginine in the sperm production paths. Supplementation has also been proven to work more effectively when combined with l-glutamate and Yohimbine Hydrochloride.
L-arginine can also be beneficial in the treatment of female infertility as it actually increases the circulation to the genital tissue in both sexes.
Research suggests that L-arginine and NAC together may help to naturally balance hormones, playing a role in helping to alleviate imbalances of estrogen, and PCOS.
4. STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
Not only does l-arginine supplementation support cardiovascular and kidney health, but it also regulates the immune system by positively affecting immune responses and inflammation.
I found during my research many studies to support these findings, especially when supplemented along with omega 3 fatty acids and other antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and C.
As a popular supplement recommended by cardiologists, l-arginine improves heart health by lowering inflammation, boosting the health of blood vessels and the health of the whole cardiovascular system, lowers high blood pressure, and improves stamina.
And for those at high risk of heart disease, then supplementation of l-arginine may act as a powerful and preventative measure against stroke and heart attack.
WHO SHOULD TAKE L ARGININE?
L-arginine is already made in adequate amounts by the body in a person who eats a healthy diet, and therefore no supplementation is required. However, in those partaking in high amounts of physical activity and looking to cut fat and build muscle then this could be a helpful supplement in that process, and may give you that extra edge you need.
I must reiterate again that I can only find evidence of l-arginine’s usefulness when used either for medical reasons, OR in combination with physical exercise when the body has a higher demand for amino acids in the rebuilding torn muscle tissue. In most other cases you should simply get enough from your diet alone.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I SUPPLEMENT?
2-3 grams up to 3 times daily is the adequate amount that has been studied in trials, but ALWAYS buy from reputable companies, and always read labels carefully. The last thing you want to do is load your body up with synthetic chemicals, fillers, and preservatives. Definitely do not exceed recommended doses.
I have found some good quality supplements on Amazon that have all the above requirements:- —>Pure Science L Arginine Capsules<—
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS:
L-arginine is safe for most people when either taken in capsules, powder, administered in a shot, or applied to the skin in appropriate doses.
In clinical settings l-arginine has been trialed safely with only minor side effects, and has been proven to be beneficial in those who need it for medical reasons (in which case consult with your doctor first), OR for those who are doing a lot of physical activity and are looking to get into shape, cut fat, and build muscle.
Possible side effects may include:-
Bloating, diarrhea, gout, allergies, inflammation of airways, asthma may worsen, may interact with medications that lower blood pressure.