Q: What is L-arginine?
A: Before we discuss the benefits and functions of L-arginine, it’s important to understand the basics of amino acids (for our expert readers out there, feel free to skip ahead). Amino acids bond together to form proteins. They are the second largest component of human muscles, cells and various other tissues (main component being water). Each amino acid has a unique function on its own or in its “free-form.”
The ‘L’ prefix on amino acids tends to cause a lot of confusion. In the case of all amino acids, the ‘L’ stands for laevorotatory. Without going into too much detail, ‘L’ amino acids are most similar to those we produce in our own body. In addition, ‘L’ amino acids indicate that the amino acids are in their free form and are not bonded to a protein molecule.
Q: What function does L-arginine play?
A: L-Arginine is a nonessential amino acid. This means that it’s mostly manufactured by the human body and does not need to be obtained through dieting. However, there are certain situations when our bodies may not produce adequate amounts of L-arginine to reap its benefits. On a normal basis, our bodies convert L-arginine into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes our blood vessels to open wider and allow for improved blood flow. This process is known as vasodilation. L-arginine has become a staple supplement for athletes due to its ability to support healthy circulation and its impact on cardiovascular health.* This amino acid may be a valuable nutrient for men’s sexual health, as well, due to its ability to help relax blood vessels and support healthy circulation.* And in high doses, L-arginine may help to maintain blood pressure levels already within normal range.*
Q: How do I take L-arginine?
A: L-arginine comes in various forms and is most commonly taken as a capsule or powder. L-arginine is often included in pre-workout energy supplements to help offset the vasoconstriction effects of caffeine. It’s worth nothing that L-arginine and L-lysine have an antagonistic relationship and should not be taken together. On the other hand, L-arginine and L-ornithine work well together, because L-ornithine is involved in the synthesis of L-arginine. Another good pairing is L-arginine and L-citrulline. L-citrulline helps rid the body of ammonia, a by-product of exercise. This can result in an easier recovery time after a tough workout.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.