L-arginine is a nutraceutical that can be used by both men and women; however, there are certain opportunities that it offers men and not women. L-arginine has a special role in growth hormones and circulatory health.
Keep reading to learn more about oral L-arginine supplementation, what it is, the uses and benefits, side effects, dosing, and administration.
What Is L-Arginine?
L-arginine is an amino acid, which are the building blocks of proteins in the body. Each amino acid plays a different role in the body and L-arginine is no different. L-arginine actually plays multiple roles in the body by interacting in a variety of pathways.
The two main pathways that L-arginine plays a role in are the production of growth hormone and its ability to vasodilate, or allow the vessels such as the arteries and veins to expand in diameter.
L-arginine is also an amino acid that helps build up proteins in areas such as the muscles. Some amino acids need to be taken in from outside sources like foods or supplements, but L-arginine is actually made in substantial amounts in the body. It can still be found in foods that have a lot of protein like meats, beans, dairy, and whole grains.
Foods that contain L-arginine include:
- Red meat, such as beef
- Dairy products
- Poultry, such as turkey or chicken
- Plant-based proteins like pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and lentils
Even though you already have L-arginine in the body, an L-arginine supplement may still help to provide health benefits.
What Are the Uses and Benefits of L-Arginine?
L-arginine is a very diverse amino acid that can be used therapeutically in several ways. Because of its ability to target different pathways in the body, it can help to address various issues.
Some of the ways L-arginine can be used are for growth hormone deficiency, erectile dysfunction, and circulatory health.
Growth Hormone Deficiency
A growth hormone deficiency can occur when you have lower levels than normal of human growth hormone. This is a hormone that is made in the pituitary gland of the body.
The release of growth hormone supports the development and maintenance of body tissues.
Growth hormone deficiency can happen in both childhood and adulthood. When seen in childhood, there is a failure to grow, which is usually very recognizable. In adulthood, the deficiency may not be as recognizable and instead may present as a decrease in muscle mass, low energy, sexual dysfunction, and changes in the thought process.
The levels of growth hormone in the body will determine the route of treatment for adult GH deficiency. If your levels are extremely low, hormone replacement therapy will likely be initiated. On top of that therapy, an adjunctive therapy like L-arginine may be added to support the body in making endogenous growth hormone. Another option is to simply use the L-arginine independently to boost the levels if they are not too low.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is something that happens to many men. In fact, at age 40 about 40 percent of men will experience some form of erectile dysfunction and at age 70 about 70 percent are affected.
Erectile dysfunction can happen due to a variety of causes but the main thing to consider is that an erection is all about blood flow. When arousal begins it sends blood into the corpus cavernosum of the penis and engorges it to form an erection. When something is blocking the blood flow is when a problem may be seen.
One effect of L-arginine supplementation can be to help dilate the blood vessels, which in turn increases the blood flow to the penis.
Due to this mechanism, L-arginine may help with erectile dysfunction. It may also aid sperm motility.
Nitroglycerin tablets are a commonly used medication for people with chest pain. The main ingredient in nitroglycerin tablets is a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is capable of vasodilating the vessels to expand their diameter.
This sounds a lot like L-arginine, and that is because L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide and can be turned into it through a chemical reaction.
Healthy circulation in your body ensures that blood is able to flow from your heart to the rest of the body and back. The arteries and veins are responsible for transporting the blood, but if the blood vessel walls have begun to harden due to high fat and cholesterol levels, blood may not be able to travel as easily and cause some problems.
That is where L-arginine may be able to help expand the vessels to allow blood flow more easily and support circulatory health.
Blood pressure is a measure of the pressure when your heart is relaxing and contracting. If you have low blood pressure (hypotension) or high blood pressure (hypertension), serious health concerns may arise.
Keeping your blood pressure in a well-balanced range is an important step in preventing cardiovascular problems from occurring.
If your healthcare provider notices that your blood pressure is too high, they will likely start you on a blood pressure medication to lower it if lifestyle changes aren’t enough to bring them to a more normal level.
L-arginine’s ability to vasodilate not only improves blood flow but may also lower blood pressure as well. When the vessel gets larger, there is less pressure on the blood vessel walls and improved blood flow. This effect may lower blood pressure.
What Are the Side Effects of L-Arginine?
L-arginine may have some side effects that you should be aware of in case they happen to you. L-arginine may be a nutraceutical, but it has direct roles on the body that could cause side effects.
Side effects from L-arginine are rare, but include experienced numbness, flushing, headache, nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. Some other rare side effects include a severe allergic reaction, low blood pressure, metabolic acidosis, and hyperventilation.
If any of these rare but serious side effects occur you should immediately report it to your health care provider.
What Is the Most Common Dose of L-Arginine?
The dose recommendations for L-arginine are different based on the indication it is being used for.
For example, the dose for someone taking L-arginine for erectile dysfunction will likely have a lower dose than for someone with a growth hormone deficiency.
However, there are some general guidelines.
For the use of growth hormone deficiency, the common dose for adults is 30 grams of L-arginine in an IV over 30 minutes. The maximum dose for adults is 600 mg per kilogram per day.
Keep in mind L-arginine may also be taken as an oral supplement or intramuscular injection and the dosing would be different. L-arginine is often supplemented alongside omega-3 fatty acids or vitamin C for increased efficacy.
For details regarding your specific dose, you should always follow the instructions of your healthcare provider.
How Do You Take L-Arginine?
L-arginine can be taken in two different ways: IV or IM.
One way is intravenously (IV), where an IV line is placed in the vein of your arm. This offers a direct entry into your blood supply and can more quickly make the L-arginine available to your body.
The downside to this is if side effects do occur it may happen more rapidly. There is also an increased risk of infection as compared to injection since there is a direct entry for infections to enter the bloodstream.
However, in some situations, the IV route is the best choice for administration.
The other option for taking L-arginine is through an intramuscular injection. This is a type of injection that you may have gotten before with a vaccine. An intramuscular injection does not allow as much medication to be administered at once, but in some cases that is not necessary. An IM injection also is easier to administer and is used in certain situations such as as a nutraceutical.
There are also some oral options for L-arginine such as pills or tablets.
L-arginine is a powerful amino acid that has so much potential for therapeutic use. Between supporting the cardiovascular system, endocrine system, and more the therapeutic uses feel endless.
L-arginine may be a nutraceutical but it is something that should only be taken under the guidance of a licensed healthcare professional. After a thorough exam, laboratory studies, and consultation should L-arginine be used.
Elite HRT offers the opportunity to explore treatments like L-arginine and more to address your concerns and symptoms.