Citrulline Food Sources and Recommended Dietary Intake
What you will learn...
Citrulline is one of the several ingredients common to most popular pre-workout supplements. Watermelon is a natural source of it, and other citrulline food sources include peanuts, soybeans, and kidney beans.
Citrulline-rich foods also include squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc…
Its name comes from Citrullus, the Latin word for watermelon, and it is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body can produce it as needed, and you don’t necessarily have to get it from foods.
Physiologically, citrulline plays a key role in a process called the Urea cycle, which is the process whereby the body eliminates toxic byproducts of digesting protein and generating cellular energy.
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These waste products are converted into a substance called urea, which is expelled from the body through the urine and sweat.
Eating more foods rich in Citrulline can boost levels of L-arginine and L-ornithine in the body.
Uses of citrulline
The main reasons why people supplement with citrulline are improving heart health, blood flow, endurance, and boosting muscle growth and recovery.
Citrulline is primarily consumed as an athletic performance supplement. It is used by bodybuilders to improve their workout efficacy and energy levels.
Citrulline has been shown to boost Nitric Oxide levels in the blood, which some believe it can stimulate increased gains in muscle mass.
Furthermore, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database states that L-citrulline is used as a natural treatment for a number of different conditions that include:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- erectile dysfunction (ED)
- heart failure
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
- lysinuric protein intolerance
- vascular disease
- cardiovascular disease
- diabetes mellitus
- Poor immune system functioning and more.
This does not mean that citrulline has been approved for the treatment of these diseases, but some naturopathic doctors may recommend this supplement as an assistant therapy.
citrulline plays important roles in your body’s production and metabolism of nitric oxide, a chemical that helps keep your blood vessels healthy by regulating blood flow and the function of platelets.
Supplementation with citrulline may help improve heart health by offering protection against the buildup of plaque along artery walls. It may also help those new to work out by improving tolerance to exercise.
Arteries are blood vessels that deliver oxygenated blood throughout the body. Arteries naturally contract and expand to control blood pressure.
This is vital that arteries retain their ability to do this because if they get too stiff and rigid or blocked, it can result in a heart attack or stroke.
As nitric oxide plays a key role in maintaining arterial health and function, anything that boosts nitric oxide levels can help keep our arteries working the way that they should.
Consumption of watermelon intensely increases plasma levels of citrullines.
Consumption between 780 and 1560 grams of watermelon daily has been shown to increase arginine and ornithine levels between 12 and 22%.
Drinking about 12 ounces of watermelon juice three times in a day can provide about 1 ½ gram of citrulline each day.
Grains, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are also sources of protein and sources of citrullines. However, these foods are a better source of arginine than citrulline.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is not a concentrated citrulline food like watermelon, but, they do contain small amounts of L-citrulline.
Cucumbers are known to be advantageous to human health in several ways since they are about 90% water and can be used as culinary staples.
citrulline is found in very small amounts in food types that include dairy foods such as milk and yogurt, poultry, beef, pork, and seafood.
Some of the other citrulline foods that can help to raise levels of L-citrulline include almonds, cocoa, cantaloupe, chickpeas, red meats, certain fish (including salmon), muskmelons, squash, bitter melons, pumpkins, gourds, walnuts, peanuts dark chocolate, etc…
Safety of Citrulline containing Foods
Increasing your consumption of L-citrulline-rich foods can increase L-arginine levels in the blood.
The only known danger of increasing your consumption of citrulline foods is the potential for hypotension, also known as low blood pressure.
Also, citrulline supplementation can cause blood pressure-based interactions with nitrates for heart disease, PDE-5 inhibitors for erectile dysfunction, blood pressure medications and other drugs or supplements with antihypertensive potentials.
In conclusion, there are no reported side effects associated with appropriate oral administration of L-citrulline supplements or eating foods that contain this natural amino acid.