The amino acid arginine has several roles in the body, such as assisting in wound healing, helping remove excess ammonia from the body, stimulating immune function, and promoting secretion of several hormones, including glucagon, insulin, and growth hormone.
Where is it found?
Dairy, meat and poultry, and fish are good sources of arginine. Nuts and chocolate also contain significant amounts of this amino acid.
Who is likely to be deficient?
Normally, the body makes enough arginine, even when it is lacking in the diet. However, during times of unusual stress (including infection, burns, and injury), the body may not be able to keep up with increased requirements.
What is it used for?
Most people do not need to take extra arginine. While some people with serious infections, burns, or other trauma should take arginine, appropriate amounts must be determined by a doctor. Research has shown that arginine might have some benefit on these conditions:
2 to 3 grams three times per day
In one study, taking arginine improved the ability of angina sufferers to exercise. Detailed studies have shown that arginine works by stimulating blood vessel dilation.
• Athletic performance (body composition and strength)
Read label directions
At very high intakes, the amino acid arginine has increased growth hormone levels, which stimulate muscle growth. Trials combining weight training with arginine and ornithine showed decreases in body fat and increases in total strength and lean body mass.
• Erectile dysfunction
1,670 to 2,800 mg daily
Blood vessels need arginine to dilate and allow the penis to form an erection. Supplementing with arginine has been shown to help men with erectile dysfunction in some studies.
• Male infertility
4 grams daily
Arginine is needed to produce sperm. Research shows that several months of L-arginine supplementation increases sperm count, quality, and fertility.
• Pre- and Post-Surgery Health
12.5 to 18.75 grams daily before and after surgery
Arginine has a role in immune function, infection prevention, and tissue repair after injury, including surgery.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
For most people, arginine has so far appeared to be free of obvious side effects. However, longer-term studies are needed to confirm its safety.
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