Arginine, also called L-arginine, is a semi-essential amino acid. It plays an important role for us as it is involved in many crucial processes in the body. Among other things, arginine has an influence on our hormone balance as well as on our immune system. Most of the amino acid is produced by our body, but under certain circumstances, the need may exceed the body's own production. If this is the case, arginine can either be supplied via certain foods or via dietary supplements. Dietary supplements with arginine are also used in bodybuilding and as a sexual enhancer for men. Here it is particularly popular, since so far hardly any side effects of arginine are known.
Food with arginine
Semi-essential amino acids such as arginine are normally produced by the body in sufficient quantities. In special situations, however, they must be supplied from outside. This is the case, for example, during periods of growth, which is why arginine is essential for children.
In adults, the need for arginine exceeds the amount of self-produced arginine in particularly stressful life stages, certain diseases or accidents. Then this amino acid must be supplied either from the outside by the consumption of food containing particularly arginine or by special dietary supplements.
Arginine is found mainly in foods such as meat, various kernels and nuts, and cereal products. Foods that have the highest percentage of arginine are:
- Pumpkin seeds (17.7 percent)
- Pine nuts (17.6 percent)
- Walnuts (15.0 percent)
- roasted peanuts (11.9 percent)
Also large amounts are in dried peas (8.9 percent), unpeeled rice (7.6 percent) and raw pork (6.7 percent), raw chicken breast fillet (6.8 percent) and raw salmon (6.0 percent). available. In addition, chicken eggs and cow's milk also contain a lot of L-arginine.
Effect: Arginine dilates the blood vessels
Arginine contains a lot of nitrogen and can react with oxygen to form nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes the heart muscle and smooth muscle. This leads to an expansion of the blood vessels. Thus, nitric oxide provides for improved blood flow and oxygenation of the blood vessels.
Because arginine affects blood vessel dilation, it can be beneficial for conditions such as atherosclerosis. This happens not only by the vasodilation, but also by the fact that the deposits on the walls of the blood vessels regress. In addition to arteriosclerosis, arginine may also have a positive effect on high blood pressure.
Arginine stimulates the release of insulin
Arginine also has an effect on our hormone balance. Arginine, for example, together with ornithine, is expected to influence the secretion of growth hormone. With the help of an arginine test, it is possible to check whether there is a lack of growth hormone, which can lead to growth disorders, especially in children. By taking arginine in such a case, the release of the existing growth hormone reserves can be stimulated.
Growth hormones also promote muscle growth and fat loss. That's why arginine is often used in bodybuilding. Here it is also used because the veins are particularly prominent due to the vasodilator effect. Dietary supplements such as arginine, which lead to increased blood flow to the musculature, are also referred to as 'pump supplement'. In addition to growth hormones, this amino acid can also affect the hormone insulin: Arginine is said to help with diabetes by increasing insulin secretion in the body.
Arginine strengthens the immune system
Arginine is also said to boost the immune system. This is done by arginine stimulating the production of white blood cells. That is why it is also taken preventively, for example against impending colds. During acute infections and hard sports training, the immune system is particularly stressed and the need for arginine is therefore particularly high. Even after surgery, a lot of arginine is needed because it can positively influence wound healing. In addition, the amino acid is also said to have a cancer-inhibiting effect. For example, the administration is intended to address more tumor cells for chemotherapy in breast cancer.
However, many of the effects attributed to arginine have not yet been scientifically confirmed. Therefore, it is important to talk to a doctor before taking it. He can also give tips on the right dosage of arginine. In addition, it should also be noted that there are differences in efficacy depending on whether the amino acid is administered orally or intravenously.
Increased potency as a side effect of arginine?
So far, only a few side effects of arginine are known. Among them is the lowering of blood pressure, which can lead to problems, especially in people with low blood pressure. Since arginine improves blood circulation, it should also increase the ability to erect by taking the amino acid. However, this effect is controversial just like the dose needed. In addition, although arginine is less dangerous than chemical power, the amino acid should not be consumed in too large quantities through dietary supplements. Because an overdose of arginine can lead to diarrhea and nausea.
In addition to potency, arginine should also be able to positively influence male fertility. The amino acid is said to improve sperm quality by increasing the sperm count and increasing their motility. Just like potency, this effect of arginine has not been confirmed scientifically.