Arginine supplements contain L-arginine, which is an amino acid that stimulates the body’s production of nitric oxide, thereby delivering benefits such as lower blood pressure, less muscle fatigue, and more intense activity levels. Nitric oxide is coveted by athletes and others wanting more physical stamina and endurance, because nitric oxide delivers high amounts of oxygen to cells and tissues, resulting in higher performance levels. Blood vessels relax under the influence of nitric oxide in arginine supplements; this benefit alleviates clogged arteries, fights heart disease, and allows greater blood flow to muscles so that they can recover quickly after strenuous exertion. Studies suggest that those using arginine supplements have the vigor to exercise 20 percent to 30 percent longer than normal.
Some medical research shows that arginine supplements can correct male impotence. Arginine’s enhanced circulation not only improves cardiovascular health, but apparently boosts blood supply to the penis to aid erections. Furthermore, the supplements are believed to spur higher sperm counts, which increase sexual health in most males.
Another alleged benefit of arginine supplements is that they can contribute to detoxification by removing ammonia from the body. Research suggests that the amino acid L-arginine is a building block for urea, which rids the body of ammonia. If not secreted, excess ammonia can poison cells and spike the body’s pH levels, possibly leading to infections and diseases like cancer. The ability of arginine supplements to produce creatine, an energy source for muscles, is an additional benefit that is highly coveted by bodybuilders and other active people.
Every human body naturally produces arginine, making supplements unnecessary for most. Faulty diets, high lysine levels, and infections, however, can result in a deficiency of arginine. When this happens, the lack of this amino acid, which is necessary for the body to make protein, can cause hair shedding, rash break-outs, and gaping wounds that refuse to heal.
In these cases, arginine supplements in the amount of 4 g per day can be beneficial. Pills are the most common form for arginine supplements. Many people, however, purchase powder or nutritional drinks with arginine as an ingredient. Under care of a physician, arginine can also be injected intravenously.
Physicians often prescribe arginine supplements for cancer patients because the supplement is believed to boost the immune system and help patients recover from lethargy. Prescriptions for the amino acid also benefit people with anal tears that do not heal and those with diabetes who need the extra protein production from arginine to balance blood sugar. Migraine sufferers occasionally get prescriptions for arginine since the extreme head pain often results from artery pressure and strained circulation. The amino acid is not regulated, however, and aside from injections, it can be taken without prescription.