With heart-related problems on the rise with each passing year, more people than ever before are looking for preventative supplements and solutions for these issues. Heart disease is one of the most prevalent, yet preventable, health problems despite the continuation of countless prescription medications. This has led people to seek out alternatives and natural supplements that can protect, repair and restore their heart health. Arginine, also known as L-arginine, is one such remedy that has enjoyed an increase in popularity.
What is L-arginine?
It is an amino acid, which is known as a chemical building block for protein production in the body. It is obtained through the diet and can be found in sources of food such as dairy, eggs, fish, poultry and red meat. However, L-arginine can also be created in a laboratory and made into supplements. The ‘L’ in front of the name of any amino acid simply means it is in its free-form state, or in other words, regarded as food. As it is in a form the body can recognize, unlike prescription medications, the body can assimilate it properly and use the supplement as intended.
How does Arginine Work?
When L-arginine is taken, either through food or supplements, the body’s endothelial cells use it to create nitric oxide. Once that conversion is complete, nitric oxide has a wide range of positive effects on the heart such as increasing the blood flow as a result of widening of blood vessels which prevents narrowing, it prevents plaque, fatty deposits, from sticking to the lining of the blood vessels and it keeps the endothelium healthy and elastic.
The Nitric Oxide Boost
Furthermore, nitric oxide works as a smooth muscle relaxant on the vascular wall, which aids in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, it repairs any damage already done to the endothelium, which reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. It also prevents blood platelets from clumping together and causing clots.
What are the Benefits?
One of its biggest benefits is its ability to improve circulation and blood flow. In a randomized, double-blind, controlled study L-arginine was given to patients with heart failure as an oral supplement. The results were considered extremely promising as the patients receiving the supplement had significantly increased blood flow compared to those who were given the placebo. Additionally, the patients who were given the supplement were able to increase the distance they walked within six minutes than those who had the placebo. Other benefits include lowering high blood pressure, repairing blood vessels, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack, improving overall immune system function and fighting inflammation among many others.
Should You Supplement with L-arginine?
Everybody produces some L-arginine, how much and if their body can convert it to nitric oxide properly depends on several factors like age, genetics, quality of the diet, environmental issues, current condition of the arteries and the heart, gender and inflammation levels present.
Someone may not produce adequate amounts of L-arginine to maintain optimal nitric oxide levels if they have a poor diet, a vegan or vegetarian diet without complete protein sources, certain genetic factors, poor digestive health or if they smoke.
With the number of free radicals present in today’s time, access to clean meats, dairy or eggs without added hormones and other detrimental components and environmental pollutants, nearly everyone can benefit from this supplementation.
Any Concerns with L-arginine?
In controlled studies, there were a few mild short-term side effects such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea experienced by some participants. It is also not recommended for people with asthma, on medications to lower blood pressure or kidney problems.
L-arginine is also contraindicated for those who have already had a heart attack. It is always recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting any new supplement, especially if you are already taking medication.
Adding supplemental L-Arginine into a clean and healthy diet, can prevent heart-related problems, increase circulation and blood flow, boost the immune system and prevent inflammation.