Arginine is a shortened name for L-arginine. This is an amino acid in the body that performs many essential functions. Arginine benefits the body in many ways as it produces creatine and urea, and can be transformed into nitric oxide, glycogen, or glucose.
The production of urea is one of many arginine benefits. Urea helps the body to remove ammonia. Ammonia is a waste product that occurs in the body and must be removed on a consistent basis.
Arginine can be transformed into nitric acid, which is essential for cardiovascular health. Nitric acid helps dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow. Individuals who suffer from heart disease may be able to benefit from increased doses of arginine in the body. Those considering this type of treatment should consult a doctor, however, as a dose of arginine after a heart attack can be dangerous.
Other arginine benefits include its role in vasodilation (the relaxation of blood vessels), which makes it beneficial for many other ailments as well. Erectile dysfunction can be treated with daily doses of L-arginine. Vascular headaches, caused by swollen blood vessels, can also be eased with this amino acid.
The production of protein and L-proline is triggered by arginine. These elements aid in the healing process. Though there is no conclusive evidence, it is suspected that another of the many arginine benefits may be its ability to speed the healing process.
Despite these myriad benefits of arginine, this amino acid can have some negative side effects if produced in excess. Too much arginine will increase the amount of stomach acids present. This can cause nausea, heartburn, and other digestive ailments. Although headaches can be treated with arginine, too much of this amino acid can cause a headache as well.
Blood sugar levels can be affected by arginine, making this a problematic supplement for those with diabetes. Individuals who are watching their blood sugar for any reason should take care to consult a doctor before increasing this amino acid. Potassium levels are increased by arginine as well, which can be dangerous for those with any form of liver disease.
Arginine is naturally produced by the body and most people have enough of this essential amino acid without the use of supplements. Some ailments can result in an arginine deficiency, such as infections, injuries, burns, or excessive production of ammonia. Those who need additional arginine can obtain it through a supplement. It is also present naturally in many food products including soy, dairy, fish, poultry, and nuts.