Articles

Arginine

Introduction

Although it is not an essential amino acid, arginine may actually be necessary for people who have difficulty producing enough to meet their body’s demands. Also, the body requires substantially greater amounts of arginine during times of trauma and wound healing.

The best dietary sources of arginine are meat, nuts, eggs, milk, and cheese.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

From 500mg – 6 grams daily.

Most Common Dosage

3 grams, 2 times daily.

Dosage Forms

Capsules, tablets, and powder.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Reported Uses

Arginine’s primary function involves the metabolism of protein and nitrogen, (1) as well as the production of a number of important compounds. It also plays a role in maintaining health of the circulatory system.

Arginine has a number of clinical applications. Studies suggest that high doses of arginine can reduce LDL, the so-called "bad" cholesterol. (2) Arginine may play a role in enhancing the production of hormones that stimulate growth and development. (3) , (4) Related studies suggest that arginine may increase lean muscle mass and total strength. (5) It may also increase the mobility of sperm and help counteract male infertility. (6) Arginine may also accelerate wound healing. (7) , (8) , (9)

Arginine seems to enhance the immune system in children with recurrent infections. A placebo-controlled trial was conducted in children ranging in age from 2 to 13 years old who suffered from recurrent infections. Fifteen of 20 children treated with arginine remained infection-free whereas only 5 of 20 placebo-treated children remained free of infections. (10)

A trial involving thirty-six stable outpatients with coronary artery disease and class II or III angina was designed to determine if supplementation with L-arginine may benefit the patients. L-arginine enriched medical food bars or placebo bars were consumed two times a day for two weeks. The arginine rich medical food used with traditional medical therapy improved blood vessel dilation, treadmill exercise time, and scores measuring quality-of-life. (11) Patients with stable congestive heart failure when supplemented with L-arginine seemed to be able to exercise for a longer time. (12)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Health Conditions

If you have kidney disease, liver disease, (13) or herpes talk to your doctor before taking this dietary supplement.

Side Effects

Occasional side effects reported with large doses of this dietary supplement include diarrhea. (14) It may be necessary to reduce the dose of this dietary supplement. Tell your doctor if these side effects become severe or do not go away.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Arias A, Garcia-Villoria J, Ribes A. Guanidinoacetate and creatine/creatinine levels in controls and patients with urea cycle defects. Mol Genet Metab. Jul2004;82(3):220-3.
  2. View Abstract: Hurson M, et al. Metabolic Effects of Arginine in a Healthy Elderly Population. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. May1995;19(3):227-30.
  3. View Abstract: Ghigo E, et al. Arginine Abolishes the Inhibitory Effect of Glucose on the Growth Hormone Response to Growth Hormone-releasing Hormone in Man. Metabolism. Sep1992;41(9):1000-03.
  4. View Abstract: Coiro V, Volpi R, Capretti L, et al. Inhibition of Growth Hormone Secretion in Mild Primary Hyperparathyroidism. Horm Res. Jul2004;62(2):88-91.
  5. View Abstract: Elam RP, et al. Effects of Arginine and Ornithine on Strength, Lean Body Mass and Urinary Hydroxyproline in Adult Males. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. Mar1989;29(1):52-56.
  6. View Abstract: Scibona M, et al. L-arginine and Male Infertility. Minerva Urol Nefrol. Dec1994;46(4):251-53.
  7. View Abstract: Barbul A, et al. Arginine Enhances Wound Healing and Lymphocyte Immune Responses in Humans. Surgery. Aug1990;108(2):331-36.
  8. View Abstract: Williams JZ. Nutrition and wound healing. Surg Clin North Am. 2003 Jun;83(3):571-96.
  9. View Abstract: De Luis DA, Izaola O, Cuellar L, Terroba MC, Aller R. Randomized clinical trial with an enteral arginine-enhanced formula in early postsurgical head and neck cancer patients. Eur J Clin Nutr. May2004.
  10. View Abstract: Baligan M, Giardina A, Giovannini G, et al. L-arginine and immunity. Study of pediatric subjects. Minerva Pediatr. Nov1997;49(11):537-42.
  11. View Abstract: Maxwell AJ, Zapien MP, Pearce GL, MacCallum G, Stone PH. Randomized trial of a medical food for the dietary management of chronic, stable angina. J Am Coll Cardiol. Jan2002;39(1):37-45.
  12. View Abstract: Bednarz B, Jaxa-Chamiec T, Gebalska J, Herbaczynska-Cedro K, Ceremuzynski L. L-arginine supplementation prolongs duration of exercise in congestive heart failure. Kardiol Pol. Apr2004;60(4):348-53.
  13. View Abstract: Saibara T, et al. Effects of ethanol on L-arginine transport in rat Ito cells in relation to nitric oxide production. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. Jun2001;25(6 Suppl):39S-45S.
  14. View Abstract: Langkamp-Henken B, et al. Arginine supplementation is well tolerated but does not enhance mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation in elderly nursing home residents with pressure ulcers. J Parenter Enteral Nutr. Sep2000;24(5):280-7.