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Benefits of Arginine

Arginine (sometimes known as L-arginine) is a popular supplement, often used by the fitness industry to improve performance. However this benefit is not the only one it has. As an amino acid, arginine is responsible for a host of bodily functions which make it essential.

Arginine is one of the amino acids which the body regards as semi-essential. This means that the body can produce some of its own arginine, but the rest needs to come from other sources such as food or supplements. In most cases the amount we get from food is more than enough. However for some people who suffer from certain complaints or who want particular health benefits it is a good idea to supplement with extra arginine.

The three main functions of arginine are as a way of helping the body eliminate waste such as ammonia, helping the body to produce proteins for muscle building and growth and in the production of nitric oxide in blood vessels which helps them to open wider for increased blood flow.

Arginine is thought to be effective for the following health issues:

  • Post surgery recovery: Due to the fact that arginine is useful for protein building, it is also known to improve healing time and limits the number of infections which occur after surgery.
  • Congestive Heart failure: Arginine helps the body to eliminate waste products and therefore can help to reduce the amount of extra fluid held after heart problems. It is should only be used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Angina or chest pain: While it does not improve the condition, arginine does seem to reduce the pain and improve quality of life for people with chronic chest pain.
  • Kidney function
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Digestive tract inflammation in premature babies
  • The cramping associated with blocked arteries

Other benefits have also been suggested for arginine, but many of these are yet to be proven. However some studies do indicate that the following health related issues could be benefited from an extra dose of arginine.

  • Migraines
  • Dementia
  • The healing of diabetic foot ulcers when applied directly as an injection in the site of the infection.
  • High blood pressure
  • Infertility in men
  • Improve or prevent the common cold
  • Improve athletic performance due to the muscle building potential.
  • Improve the outcome with a number of cancers including breast cancer when used in conjunction with chemotherapy.

The amount of arginine you should take for each ailment or use depends entirely on what benefit you want. However it is thought that a dose of between 6 grams and 20 grams per day is sufficient for most people.

It is important to check with your doctor if you are considering supplementing with arginine as it can interact with some medicines. It can also be unwise to take arginine if you are going to have an operation as it can change blood pressure readings.

If you wish to add more arginine to your diet you can find it in most protein based foods such as meat, dairy, fish, nuts, beans and some grains.


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