L-arginine is one of 20 amino acids, or building blocks for proteins, in the human body. This means L-arginine is crucial for building muscle and other tissues. Another role that L-arginine plays is in the release of nitric oxide in the bloodstream. Nitric oxide is a chemical that causes blood vessels to widen, improving circulation. L-arginine is found in small amounts in certain foods such as red meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Another portion of your body’s total L-arginine is self-produced.
Where can L-arginine be Found?
Getting plenty of L-arginine in your diet is important for health. Animal products are not the only good source of this crucial amino acid. Any food high in protein is high in L-arginine, so vegans and vegetarians can get their intake through legumes, peanuts and seeds. People can also take extra L-arginine in the form of supplements. There are many medically documented advantages of L-arginine supplementation. Supplements that contain L-arginine are particularly beneficial for older men, especially since L-arginine levels tend to drop as you get older. Some of the benefits of L-arginine for men are listed below.
1. Increases Physical Stamina
L-arginine stimulates the production of growth hormones and insulin, hormones that help transport glucose into cells, increasing energy levels. This means that L-arginine can be useful for promoting healthy physical stamina. Boosted energy combined with better blood flow from L-arginine make for better exercise performance. Taking L-arginine can help make workouts easier and improve recovery. Even outside of exercise, people naturally become more out of shape as they age. Many older men find that they may get winded just from everyday physical tasks such as climbing stairs—L-arginine can help give you the energy and stamina you need to go about your day with ease. It may also reduce minor muscle discomfort.
2. Promotes Heart Health
Because L-arginine has anti-inflammatory properties, influences healthy circulation and promotes healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels within normal ranges, it is an ideal supplement for people who have cardiovascular heart concerns or who have a high risk for developing them. These types of health issues are far more common in older people.
3. Benefits Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory benefits of L-arginine have a wide range of practical effects for aging men. Inflammation in your body could be a contributing cause to a wide range of health concerns, like arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and much more. L-arginine is also a potent antioxidant, protecting against damage on a cellular level. Supplementing with L-arginine has a positive effect on the central nervous system and the immune system, two bodily systems that are prone to age-related health problems.
4. Strengthens the Immune System
Science shows that L-arginine plays an important role in immune function. For example, T-cells, the immune cells that detect and kill infections, are fueled in part by L-arginine. People use L-arginine to help mitigate the risk of infection, speed up recovery from illness and help wounds heal. This makes L-arginine useful for seniors, as many find that their immune system declines with age.
5. Boosts Fertility
Though men can theoretically conceive a child throughout their whole life, fertility does decline a lot the older you get. Since L-arginine is necessary for proper cell production, it is important for fertility because conception depends in part on the male partner having enough sperm cells. According to research, up to 92 percent of cases of male fertility respond well to L-arginine supplementation. This amino acid boosts sperm production as well as sperm motility, or the sperm cells’ ability to travel through the female reproductive tract to meet the egg.
6. Increases Sexual Satisfaction
Another way that L-arginine benefits sexual health is by promoting healthy erectile ability. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to achieve an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse. Though this condition can have psychological causes, it is more common that it has a physical basis. A majority of men lose their erectile ability as the decades pass, largely due to decreased circulation. Since L-arginine promotes healthy circulation, it could offer benefits.
Considerations for Taking L-Arginine
L-arginine is often used in conjunction with other medications and supplements. For example, people who use L-arginine to strengthen their immune system often take it with a fish oil supplement. Many people find that L-arginine combined with ibuprofen is more effective for migraine headaches than ibuprofen alone. Research shows that L-arginine goes well with Pycnogenol, a pine bark extract, in cases of erectile dysfunction.
There are things to keep in mind if you are considering starting an L-arginine supplement. Supplements that contain L-arginine aren’t right for everyone. You should not take it if you are under 18, have herpes, have a history of heart attack, take Viagra or blood pressure medications, have low blood pressure, have kidney disease or if you are going to have surgery within two weeks. Additionally, taking more than 10 grams of L-arginine in one dose can have negative side effects. These can include:
- abdominal pain
- airway inflammation
- blood abnormalities
- low blood pressure
- worsening of asthma