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The hidden health benefits of L-arginine

L-arginine, or just arginine, is one of 20 naturally occurring amino acids in the body. Discover the health benefits it could have for your body. It may be hard to pronounce, but L-arginine (which sounds like ar-jen-nen) has a lot going for it. Sometimes just called arginine, it’s one of 20 different amino acids in the body, and a bit of an unsung hero when it comes to health benefits.

The basics

What is L-arginine?

L-arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid. It helps with circulation and creating energy, and is also generally recognised as a powerful aid in healing wounds.

What are amino acids?

Put simply, they’re the building blocks of protein and they’re made from organic compounds. A long chain of amino acids creates a protein, making them very important for good health

What are proteins?

They provide a range of functions in the body, including creating muscles, hormones and antibodies.

Where does L-arginine come from?

Like many other amino acids, L-arginine is found in animal produce including fish, chicken, eggs and dairy. It’s also in grains, beans, corn, and nuts – but not in fruits or veg. However, protein-rich foods only provide relatively small amounts of any given amino acid, so arginine supplements may be useful for some people.

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How does L-arginine work its magic?

Once it’s in your body, arginine is transformed into the hormone nitric oxide. Hormones are chemical ‘messengers’ that trigger key processes and functions in the body.  Nitric oxide is responsible for opening up the blood vessels and encouraging better blood flow to all parts of the body such as the arms, legs, head and genitals.

L-arginine benefits

Because of its supersonic capacity to help with blood flow, L-arginine is sometimes taken to help with migraines and hypertension, and to enhance heart health and immunity. One 2010 study even suggested that L-arginine might have anti-ageing benefits. This is largely thanks to its relationship to an increase in human growth hormone (the production of which drops off as we age), which helps us recover from workouts, improves strength, and enhances libido and muscle growth. It also pumps more blood to your muscles, increasing that full look known as ‘the pump’, so it’s commonly found in pre-workout powders. It’s used by sports people to aid performance too, because it helps with the production of creatine, a naturally occurring acid that enhances power output.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

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Sources

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2090123210000573
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18090659
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217020/

Arginine