Arginine

03-07-2015
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What you can achieve by taking it

Muscle mass building and fat burning

It enhances lean muscle building and fat burning by supporting growth hormone and insulin secretion.

Anticatabolic effect

It prevents tissue breakdown and supports muscle regeneration by breaking down by-products of protein metabolism.

Increasing energy and endurance

It is a precursor of nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator) therefore it may increase the amount of oxygen transported to the heart.

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Review

The Arginine - Non-essential micronutrient

Short overview

Summary

Physical and mental stress (quite common for many of us) as well as intensive training may both cause a significant decrease in arginine level. Furthermore it is known as a substance increasing the level of the growth hormone due to its effect of enhancing protein synthesis and immune and nervous system so it became popular among those who set themselves the objective of lean muscle building and fat burning.

Other names

L-arginine

Natural sources

Arginine is produced in the hypophysis and high amounts of it can be found in meat, seafood, poultry and dairy products. It can also be found in nuts and peanut butter. (Arginine rich foods)

HEALTH BENEFITS

Why athletes use arginine

Arginine is used by athletes who want to increase their growth hormone, insulin and creatine phosphate production that favours lean muscle building and fat burning and at the same time enhances immune function and mental concentration.

How arginine enhances muscle building and regeneration:

  • It enhances lean muscle building and fat burning by supporting growth hormone and insulin secretion.
  • It prevents tissue breakdown and supports muscle regeneration by breaking down by-products of protein metabolism.

How it increase energy and endurance:

  • It is a precursor of nitric oxide (a potent vasodilator) therefore it may increase the amount of oxygen transported to the heart.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Arginine deficiency symptoms

It hasn’t got any known deficiency symptom.

Possible use

According to the studies arginine may be beneficial in the treatment of the following symptoms:

  • Cardio-vascular disorders
  • Problems of mental concentration
  • Infertility
  • Wounds/injuries
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Effects of a previous anabolic steroid use

Detailed review

Further information

As well as supporting protein synthesis and enhancing immune and nervous system, arginine increases the production of the body’s own growth hormone (GH) - that is the most important for athletes.

GH and insulin production

Arginine is one of the few edible nutrients that increase the level of GH, insulin and muscle creatine effectively. These properties are the reason why it is so popular among athletes who want to build lean muscle mass by stimulating fat burning. Natural GH production often declines with age; it may be associated with the muscle loss and fat gain in the body. Arginine stimulates the GH production in the pituitary gland allowing protein synthesis to remain “young” and increasing muscle build metabolism. Another potential benefits: accelerating regeneration and improved memory.

Insulin secretion caused by the presence of arginine may assist the more effective transportation of essential nutrients (e.g. glucose and different amino acids) into the cells, where they are used as fuel to provide better energy supply and muscle build. Although it seems that arginine increase GH and insulin level, the duration of this effect on muscle size and fat burning is not yet established. Several studies had apparently satisfactory result, nevertheless many scientists wait for more evidence. At the same time most of the scientists are convinced that arginine assists muscle regeneration by supporting collagen production and eliminating the toxins produced by muscle breakdown (the amount of these substances increases during high insensitivity training); all in all beneficial effects are guaranteed.

Synergy with creatine

Arginine as a precursor of creatine phosphate (an essential source of energy) may increase performance during anaerob trainings (e.g. body building); furthermore it may increase the efficiency of the muscles and the efforts. Researches have shown that arginine supplementation significantly increases the level of creatine in muscle cells.

Nitric-oxide production

Originally arginine is some sort of blood thinner and also plays a part in the body’s nitric-oxide production, allowing the vessels to remain dilated. Nitric-oxide and arginine together improve blood circulation by dilating the vessels (and by removing this obstacle they may decrease blood pressure); and it may lead to better mental concentration, healthy heart and improvement in sexual activity. Nitric-oxide and arginine together relax the cavernous tissue and thus enhance erection. Another benefit for some men: higher doses of arginine may increase sperm count.

Effect of supporting the immune system

Moreover, by stimulating the thymus gland, where T-cells are produced against the infections, it is suspected that arginine may influence the immune system as well and may increase the resistance of the body to some diseases.

Conclusions

Although the body is able to produce arginine naturally, in case of physical or mental stress (quite common for many of us) this production may slow down. As a matter of fact even high intensity training may result in significant slowing down. These periods or arginine deficiency may lead to complications obviously; the supplementation has tangible results. Arginine is considered conditionally essential, meaning that it should be supplemented in certain circumstances.

INDICATIONS FOR USE

Quantity

Quantities may vary significantly; recommended dose is between 3 and 20 grams depending on the individual and the objective. Remember, that manufacturers usually recommend a smaller dose than the most effective dose shown by the studies.

  • A dose of 3 grams is recommended 1 hour before training and at bedtime to increase growth hormone production.
  • 15-18 g/day is recommended to enhance wound healing.
  • 6-13 g/day is recommended to improve heart health.
  • 2 g 3 times a day is recommended to treat high blood pressure.
  • 4 g/day for a few months may increase sperm count.
  • 6 and 18 g 45 minutes before sexual intercourse may increase endurance.

Timing

It seems arginine is most effective when taken on an empty stomach five times a week. Some researchers suggest that it should be taken for 2-3 weeks than stop taking it for at least 1-2 weeks.

Synergists of arginine

In combination with ornithine a more significant GH level increase may be achieved.

In combination with glycine it was demonstrated to increase the creatine level of muscles.

In combination with omega-3 fatty acids and ribonucleic acid it may enhance the immune system.

In combination with yohimbine (active material of yohimbe tree) arginine may decrease erectile dysfunction symptoms. According to a new study published in European Urology it is a fact, even if this combination is still on a “waiting list” (a single administration is required before application).

Safety information

Be careful in case of herpes infection. It should be used only with lysine supplementation in these cases (lysine/arginine ratio: 4:1). Otherwise, it may stimulate the multiplication of herpes infected cells.

It is not recommended for diabetic patients since it influences blood glucose level.

Toxic effects of arginine

Unknown. The maximum dose of 25 g/day is generally considered to be safe.

Prohibitions and restrictions

Undocumented.

Links

Internet articles

Bibliography

* Evoy, D., et al., "Immunonutrition: The Role of Arginine," Nutrition 14.7-8 (1998) : 611-7.

* Lebret, T., "Efficacy and Safety of a Novel Combination of L-Arginine Glutamate and Yohimbine Hydrochloride: A New Oral Therapy for Erectile Dysfunction," European Urology 41 (2002) : 608-13.

* Schachter, A., et al., "Treatment of Oligospermia with the Amino Acid Arginine," J Urol 110.3 (1973) : 311-3.

* Suminski, R.R., et al., "Acute Effect of Amino Acid Ingestion and Resistance Exercise on Plasma Growth Hormone Concentration in Young Men," Int J Sport Nutr 7.1 (1997) : 48-60.

* Tenenbaum, et al., "L-Arginine: Rediscovery in Progress," Cardiology 90.3 (1998) : 153-9.


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