L-Arginine: Dosage, and When to Use
Table of Contents
When considering L-arginine dosage, it is important to know that it is classified as an essential amino acid. This means that our body cannot produce it on its own.
L-arginine and arginine are substitutable terms, and our body uses this amino acid for a variety of purposes, including boosting immune system function and improving blood flow.
You can obtain this amino acid through diet, but supplementation is sometimes beneficial for athletes and bodybuilders.
Arginine can be obtained from food sources such as whole wheat, nuts, seeds, dairy products, poultry, red meat and fish etc….
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The benefits of L-arginine are derived from its roles in protein synthesis and serves as a precursor to nitric oxide, which is a strong vasodilator.
Arginine is important for cellular functions, muscle mass development, the treatment of erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.
How Much L-Arginine Should You Take for Optimal Health Benefits?
When determining how much L-arginine to use and when to take L-arginine, it is important to consider the various reasons for which it is being taken.
Recommended dosages for oral L-arginine range from 400 mg to 6,000 mg per day, depending on the reason it is being taken.
Dosages are typically split into two or three administrations per day, and the compound can also be used as a pre- or post-workout supplement.
L-Arginine products can also be used in topical formulations to promote skin health and to improve sexual performance.
Benefits of L-Arginine
L-Arginine medicines and supplements may be effective for treating several health conditions and for improving exercise capacity.
It has been noted that arginine is possibly effective for congestive heart failure, bladder inflammation, erectile dysfunction and improving recovery following a surgical procedure.
There is proof that consuming 6 g of arginine before a workout increases exercise capacity by as much as 26%.
How it Works
When you consume arginine from food sources or supplements, it gets converted to a chemical called nitric oxide, (NO).
When you find nitric oxide supplements at fitness stores, they are essentially L-arginine supplements marketed as nitric oxide supplements.
The nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open, allowing increased blood flow through the body.
There are further reports that it increases the release in the body of human growth hormone, or HGH, which plays a major role in muscle development.
Thus, by consuming too much arginine, you may be putting yourself at a higher risk for bleeding.
Supplementing with L-Arginine
L-Arginine supplements are now used for varying purposes, including weight loss, erectile dysfunction and to improve muscle development among bodybuilders.
In general, more studies are needed before these supplemental uses of L-arginine can be certified.
However, many of the supplemental uses of L-arginine relate to the belief that it increases both nitric oxide synthesis and levels of human growth hormone (HGH).
Bodybuilders, athletes and individuals looking to lose weight sometimes take L-arginine in the hopes of increasing their HGH levels, and research has indicated that how much L-arginine you take plays an important role in determining whether or not HGH levels will be affected.
Only very high levels of supplemental L-arginine (250 mg per 2.2 lbs. of body weight) have been observed to increase HGH levels.
Unfortunately, supplementing L-arginine at such high intensities generally causes stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
Taking L-arginine at the recommended dosages (often 5 g/day) has not been observed to increase HGH levels.
However, taking L-arginine and ornithine (500 mg/day each) in combination with a weight training routine has been observed to decrease fat levels and increase lean muscle mass.
The recommended dosage of arginine varies depending on the reasons or treatment in view. For congestive heart failure, the recommended doses range from 6 g to 20 g per day, which varies on a case-by-case basis.
For relieving chest pain caused by clogged arteries, 9 g to 28 g of arginine is taken in equal increments 3 or 4 times per day.
Men suffering from erectile dysfunction may benefit from 5 g of L-arginine per day, and a Dr Volek mentions 6 g per day as an effective dosage for improving physical performance.
When to Take L-Arginine
This supplement can be taken with meals or approximately 30 minutes before exercise when being used for athletic performance.
For general health and immune system maintenance, dosages are generally split into 2 or 3 administrations per day.
Taking too much L-Arginine at once can result in side effects such as gastrointestinal discomfort, loose stools (diarrhoea). If you experience these adverse effects, try using a smaller dosage or splitting your doses into smaller units.
Some experts caution against using arginine for certain heart conditions, as well as with medications that act as blood thinners.
Anticoagulants (blood thinner) medications can include anything from aspirin to warfarin (Coumadin), heparin, as well as commonly used over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
L-Arginine supplements are not recommended for some people because arginine relaxes the blood vessels. Thus, experts advised that it not be used in conjunction with prescribed medications that lower blood pressure or are used to treat heart conditions.
Arginine supplementation may cause adverse reactions in some people, such as those with herpes, young children, patients with low blood pressure, or individuals about to have a surgical procedure.
Common side effects of arginine supplements include stomach distress, diarrhoea, worsening of asthma and low blood pressure. Arginine can be lethal in children when consumed in excess.
But on a final note, it is necessary to note that L-arginine supplements are generally safe for most people when consumed as directed by a doctor and according to the proper dosage recommended.