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Arginine and Its Benefits

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The benefits of L-arginine are plenty. Scientific research has proven some of those benefits of L-arginine to be lowered blood pressure, improved immune system, decreased arrhythmia symptoms, lowered cholesterol, memory function improvements, and enhanced cardiovascular health. This amazing little amino acid has the ability to improve so many aspects of your heart health, and through many years of research and study has become one of the most important elements to improving circulation and producing nitric oxide.

What is L-Arginine?

L-arginine is an amino acid that aids in the production of nitric oxide. You cannot understand L-arginine without first understanding nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, or NO, has the tall task of facilitating blood flow and circulation throughout the body, delivering oxygen and vital nutrients to every tissue within the body, dilating blood vessels, and keeping blood pressure under control. When any tissue within the body needs a greater supply of blood for warmth, movement or wound healing, the brain signals the blood vessels in that affected area to release nitric oxide, which increases circulation and thus delivers vital oxygen and nutrients. L-arginine is the chemical precursor to nitric oxide. Technically speaking, the ‘nitric oxide synthases’ formula that uses L-arginine and citrulline to produce nitric oxide looks like this:

L-arginine + 3/2 NADPH + H+ + 2 O2 = citrulline + nitric oxide + 3/2 NADP+

L-arginine also plays an extremely important role in cell division, removing ammonia from the body, the release of hormones, and the many, many heart benefits that we will mention as we move forward.

L-Arginine and Vasodilation

One absolutely amazing benefit of L-arginine is its ability to ‘vasodilate’ the blood vessels. Plainly speaking, vasodilation is the widening of the blood vessels and arteries. This is a direct response to a localized need for oxygen and nutrients. When a part of the body is in need of oxygen or nutrients, those specific tissues will not only release nitric oxide it will increase vasodilation, allowing improved circulation to these areas. When circulation improves, oxygen and nutrients are delivered quickly and efficiently to the body’s tissues.

L-Arginine and High Cholesterol

In 1999, researchers successfully found that by adding L-arginine to specific diets, cholesterol levels could be lowered. There are two types of cholesterol, low density and high density lipoprotein. Simply speaking, cholesterol is the ‘plaque,’ or fat-like substance, that can build up within the artery walls. The body needs cholesterol to function, however too much ‘bad,’ or low density (LDL), cholesterol can slowly pile up within the artery walls, leading to many cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke. By its very nature, L-arginine and nitric oxide are the body’s most potent blood vessel expanders and thus main blood pressure regulator. As L-arginine vasodilates, or widens, the blood vessels, it increases circulation and removes those fatty deposits left behind within the artery walls. High cholesterol, or too much ‘bad’ cholesterol, restricts the production of nitric oxide through the endothelial cells. These cells are located within the walls of the arteries. When the walls of the arteries are clogged with plaque build-up, these vital cells cannot product nitric oxide, and the body loses its ability to control circulation and keep blood pressure low. Dr. John Cooke of Stanford University conducted research into L-arginine’s ability to lower cholesterol levels by including an L-arginine supplement in the diets of 43 patients with high cholesterol. Within one week, the study participants noticed significant improvement in levels of peripheral blood flow.

L-Arginine for High Blood Pressure

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 percent of the US population suffers from high blood pressure, or hypertension. By increasing vasodilation and widening the blood vessels, L-arginine benefits the heart to beat more efficiently simply due to the increased blood flow throughout the body, and specifically to each chamber of the heart. Blood pressure is the measurement of the amount of blood your heart pumps vs the amount of resistance to that blood flow within the arteries. The higher your cholesterol levels, the greater chance that you’re arteries are blocked with plaque build-up, the greater chance that you have high blood pressure. Recent studies have examined blood pressure in healthy adults, as well as diabetics, and have shown decrease in systolic blood pressure.

L-Arginine and Arrhythmia

In 2009, a study into the affect of L-arginine on arrhythmia was conducted at the George Eby Research Institutes in Austin, Texas. By reviewing the historical evidence of patients with ‘frequent irregular heartbeats’ they found a direct link between adding L-arginine supplements to a patient’s diet and decreased arrhythmia.

L-Arginine and the Immune System

While the heart benefits of L-arginine are numerous, L-arginine has also been scientifically proven to improve the body’s immune system by increasing the size and strength of the thymus. The thymus is the endocrine system gland the produces T cells, also known as ‘fighting cells,’ responsible for fighting off infection. Research has shown the L-arginine ‘can increase the weight of the thymus, an effect that is directly correlated with an increase in the number of thymic T-lymphcytes.’

L-Arginine and Brain Function

In 2009, a Harvard Medical School Review published a report on the direct correlation between decreased nitric oxide and L-arginine levels and an increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Since then, many studies have been conducted on the benefits of L-arginine for brain function. Oxygen flow to the brain decreases with age, as does the production of l-arginine and nitric oxide. With this decrease is oxygen flow to the brain comes decreased brain function. L-arginine benefits healthy blood flow to areas of the brain, and because the cells in the brain are constantly working, optimal brain function requires optimal blood flow.

L-Arginine and Erectile Dysfunction

The many benefits of L-arginine are pretty well known, especially its positive effect on erectile dysfunction. Many studies have gone to show improvement in sexual function for men with erectile dysfunction who take L-arginine supplements. L-arginine’s ability to increase blood flow and relax the artery walls also makes it very effective at relaxing the smooth muscle within the penis, improving blood flow and decreasing symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Arginine and Body Builders

Arginine is very important to body builders and as such they take large quantities of Arginine supplements. As Arginine aids the synthesis of proteins it increases the total body mass, by way of muscle growth, especially after strenuous exercise. Also it is a vasodilator so aids the rapid growth of muscle, as does its role in the retention of nitrogen in the body. As it also boosts the immune system it keeps the body builder fit, especially if they are over-training. It also helps control salt levels so reduces bloating, which is important when flexing and showing off muscles.

L-Arginine Supplement Dosage

As you can see, the benefits of L-arginine numerous and all scientifically proven through tireless research, studies, and reviews. However, in order to receive the maximum benefits of L-arginine you’ll want to combine this element with an L-citrulline supplement. L-citrulline helps to maintain optimal levels of L-arginine and nitric oxide. You should be taking 5,000mg of L-arginine along with 1,000mg of L-citrulline. To add greater heart benefits, consider L-carnitine to increase fat-burning metabolism and energy.

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