food Oct 1, 2021

Twenty percent of the human body is made up of proteins. Protein plays a crucial role in almost all biological processes. Our body cannot function without proteins, and in order to build all these important proteins, our body needs amino acids. . Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different amino acids in nature.
Some are essential amino acids and our body cannot make them on its own. We get them through the food we eat. Others are non-essential amino acids and our body can synthesise them.

Our cells, muscles and tissue are mainly made up of amino acids.  They carry out many important bodily functions, such as giving cells their structure, transport and the storage of nutrients, and influence the functioning of organs, glands, tendons and arteries.
They are furthermore essential for healing wounds and repairing tissue, especially in the muscles, bones, skin and hair as well as for the removal of all kinds of waste deposits produced in connection with the metabolism.
L- Arginine is a nonessential amino acid but may be considered essential or semi essential in stressful situations, including periods of growth (i.e., during childhood or pregnancy) or trauma (e.g., liver disease, severe sepsis, wound healing, cancer).

What does the “L” in L-arginine stand for?
The “L,” stands for “levo,” and means naturally occurring amino acid that distinguishes itself from other synthetic amino acids.

L-arginine makes up protein, helps treat and prevent certain medical conditions, such as kidney function, heart failure, colds, and even a faster recovery from surgeries.
It is most popular for its improvement in heart health and preventing certain heart conditions.
L-arginine is needed by the endothelial cells (the ones lining the inside of all blood vessels) in order to form enough nitric oxide to keep blood flowing freely.
Arginine is found in a wide variety of foods.

Animal sources

Dairy products (e.g., cottage cheese, ricotta, milk, yogurt, whey protein drinks), beef, pork (e.g., bacon, ham), gelatin, poultry (e.g. chicken and turkey light meat), wild game (e.g. pheasant, quail), seafood (e.g., halibut, lobster, salmon, shrimp, snails, tuna)

Plant sources

Wheat germ and flour, lupins, buckwheat, granola, oatmeal, peanuts, nuts (coconut, pecans, cashews, walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pinenuts), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower), chickpeas, cooked soybeans, canary seed.


In people with angina (Chest pain), L-arginine decreases symptoms and improves exercise tolerance.  However, L-arginine does not improve the disease itself.
Reduces blood pressure in healthy people, people with high blood pressure, and people with slightly high blood pressure with or without diabetes,
Prevents inflammation of the digestive tract in premature infants
Increases blood flow in people with leg pain associated with poor blood flow (peripheral arterial disease)
L-arginine improves memory loss related to aging (Dementia).
It improves sexual function in men with Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
It Reduces the recovery time, reduces a number of infections, and improves wound healing after surgery.
Improves kidney function and reverses anaemia in elderly people with kidney disease-associated anaemia.
Reduces the number of cavities in the molars of children. Using a toothpaste containing arginine, calcium, and fluoride reduces tooth sensitivity when used twice daily.
Intake of L-arginine by mouth for one month controls blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. L-arginine also seems to improve insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. When L-arginine is applied daily to the feet of diabetic persons, it can improve circulation and thus helps in preventing diabetic foot ulcers. If a person is already suffering from ulcer, L-arginine is injected under the skin near the ulcer. However, it does not shorten healing time or lower the chance of elimination in the future.
In people with muscle problems in the oesophagus and chest pain that is not related to the heart, Intake of L-arginine reduces the number and intensity of chest pain attacks.
L-arginine increases walking distance and improves breathing in people with a heart transplant.
Improves menstrual function and reduces insulin resistance in people with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Administering L-arginine at the site of stent implantation may reduce artery wall thickening.
Intake of L-arginine by mouth for 60 days prevents the recurrence of respiratory infections in children.

L- Arginine side effects and safety

L-arginine can cause some side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, gout, blood abnormalities, allergies, airway inflammation, worsening of asthma, and low blood pressure.
L-arginine can cause an allergic response or asthma.
People suffering from low blood pressure should not take L-arginine because it lowers blood pressure.
If a person had a heart attack recently, L-arginine should not be given. It may increase the risk of death after a heart attack, especially in older people.
L-arginine increases potassium levels when used by people with kidney disease. In some cases, this may result in a life-threatening irregular heartbeat.
As it affects blood pressure, L-arginine administration should be stopped at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
L-arginine is not recommended in patients following an acute heart attack. Intake of it in higher doses is unsafe and may cause death in children. So it’s best to stick to a low dose.


A. Sandhya

M.Sc Zoology

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