L-arginine is an amino acid used by our bodies in the biosynthesis of proteins essential to health. It is a semi-essential, or conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that, while it s normally synthesized in the human body, this process is impeded in the case of preterm infants or people with certain health conditions. Arginine was first isolated from lupin seed in 1886 by German scientist Ernst Schultze.
Certain amounts of arginine are readily synthesized in the body, but usually not enough to satisfy our daily needs. For this reason, it is important to maintain a healthy diet, consuming foods which contain a supply of this important amino acid. Arginine can be found in a variety of animal sources, such as dairy products such as cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt, whey product drinks, and milk, and such meat products as beef, pork, gelatin, poultry (especially chicken and light meat turkey), wild game, including pheasant and quail, and seafood, including halibut, lobster, shrimp, and tuna, and snails. Plant sources of arginine include flour, buckwheat, lupins, granola, oatmeal, a wide variety of nuts, and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. It can also be found in chickpeas and cooked soybeans.
Arginine plays an important role in cell division. It speeds up the wound healing process, helps to remove ammonia from the body, aids in the immune function and the release of hormones. It can reduce healing time for injuries, especially injuries to the bone. It can also provide some help for those with sensitive teeth, by depositing a dentin-like substance in dental tubules within the teeth as well as depositing a thin, protective layer over the teeth.
There have been a number of clinical studies involving experimental animals as well as humans which seem to indicate that supplemental doses of L-arginine may be beneficial for all these reasons. In 1999, one study found that L-arginine is useful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In 2000 another indicated that the amino acid can improve cardiac function in cases of congestive heart failure. Another concluded that chronic angina symptoms are eased by arginine, providing the patient with improved blood vessel function and an increase in their tolerance for healthy exercise. Proponents also claim that L-arginine helps mitigate the symptoms of colds, dementia, migraines, and sexual dysfunction in women. There is also some evidence that L-arginine can be helpful in the treatment of MELAS syndrome, a mitochondrial disease which can lead to a whole array of symptoms affecting especially the brain and nervous system and the muscles.
One of the most important characteristics of L-arginine may be its ability to reduce blood pressure. This is especially important for those who suffer from chronic hypertension, or those pregnant women who are at risk for a condition known as pre-eclampsia. These women include those of a more mature age, those who suffer from obesity, or high blood pressure, or diabetes. Unrecognized and untreated, pre-eclampsia can lead to a fatal outcome.
L Arginine Benefits Human Performance