L -arginine is classed as a semi essential amino acid because the body can synthesize it in small quantities but the rate of L-arginine synthesis does not increase to compensate for depletion therefore when high amounts are needed by the body for its use in many different functions it is necessary to attain it from our diet or as a supplement. As we age arginine also decreases in the body.
Functions of L- arginine in the body
As said before arginine is involved in many different functions in the body from hormone secretion, immunity building and aids detoxification of ammonia from the body. One of its most well researched functions in the body is its ability to be metabolised into Nitric oxide, which has been know to cause relaxation of the blood vessels. It is due to this vasodilation effect that arginine has been studied for its benefit to cardiovascular health.
Health benefits of L-arginine
Aid in Lowering Blood Pressure = High blood pressure can be caused by a number of different reasons but ultimately its due to the narrowing of the blood vessels that carry the blood, this puts excess strain on the heart to circulate the blood. Due to L-arginines ability to help produce an effective vasodilator (nitric oxide) which helps expand the blood vessels allowing the blood to circulate easier thus reducing strain on the heart.
Erectile dysfunction = Insufficient blood flow is a major cause of incomplete erection in men. But studies have demonstrated that arginine has been used to increase the flow of nitrous oxide to the area, which in turn results in improving sexual response.“L-Arginine may be effective only in those men whose erectile dysfunction is due to low levels of nitric oxide”.
Athletic performance = Arginine has been used by athletes to increase their performance. In the body arginine may increase production of several amino acids such as creatine, L-proline and L-glutamate while also increasing human growth hormone. Which all help repair and grow muscle while the nitric oxide boost helps widen the blood vessels to deliver more nutrients to the muscles also known as the (pump).
There is no established daily requirement for arginine, but Mayo Clinic cites a maximum safe dosage of 6 grams per day for adults who take it as a supplement.
Keep in mind that if you have low blood pressure or are suffering from an active virus like herpes (cold sore) or shingles L-arginine may not be the best supplement to use.