Dairy, meat and poultry and fish are good sources of arginine. Nuts and chocolate also contain significant amounts of this arginine.
Benefits of arginine
This amino acid has several roles in the body, such as helping 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.
Severe burns, infections, and injuries can decrease the body’s supply of arginine. It is used in hospitals as an immune supplement to speed recovery from severe illness.
Arginine can also be used to prevent colds, asthma, kidney failure, and recovery from illness and injury.
This amino acid also helps in the synthesis of proteins synthesis, which can in turn increase cellular replication. Therefore, arginine may help people with inadequate numbers of certain cells. For example, studies have found that men with low sperm counts experienced an increase in the number of sperm when they supplemented with arginine.
Some evidence also suggests that arginine may help to regulate the cholesterol levels. It makes the blood thin by reducing platelet aggregation.
It helps in the wound healing by increasing the protein synthesis in the body.
Arginine can be used to help treat conditions such as congestive heart failure, impotence, sexual dysfunction in women, intermittent claudication and interstitial cystitis.
Nitric oxide a precursor of arginine also plays a role in the brain and nervous system. It acts as a chemical messenger that is essential for good memory and learning, as well as in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, among other functions.
Who need more?
People with angina pectoris, low blood pressure may need higher intakes of arginine. But a person should increase its intake of arginine under medical supervision.
Higher intakes of arginine can also help in people with erectile problems but under the guidance of physician.
Some have also suggested that the supplements can improve the function of blood vessels, enhance coronary blood flow
Higher intakes may also be needed during times of unusual stress including infections, burns, and injury.
Symptoms of higher intake
When taking arginine up to moderate doses of 2 to 3 g per day, arginine appears to be free of side effects, however, minor digestive disturbances can occur.
Higher doses of arginine can increase stomach acid. This can harm people with heartburn, ulcers, or who are already taking drugs that are harmful to the stomach. Arginine increases stomach acid by stimulating production of gastrin, a hormone that increases stomach acid.
It is also studied that higher doses of arginine can also lead to the cancer growth in the body.
It is not recommended for
Arginine may alter potassium levels, especially in people with liver disease. People with kidney disease and those who take ACE inhibitors or potassium sparing diuretics should not use supplemental arginine unless they are under medical supervision.
It is not safe to take higher doses of arginine in pregnant and nursing women and children.
A typical dosage of arginine is 2 to 3 g of arginine per day. In clinical trials, it is used in dosages of 5 to 15 g for congestive heart failure.
While some people with serious infections, burns, or other trauma should take arginine, a physician must determine appropriate amounts.