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Arginine is an amino acid with a direct link to performance and exercise.
Arginine was first isolated in 1886 from a plant in the pea family, but it took another 46 years before scientists discovered that arginine (pronounced ARE-juh-nine) was involved in the production of human urea. Urea is a component of urine, bile and blood which helps the body dispose of toxic ammonia.
Later, it was learned the L-form of arginine was needed to produce creatine—a compound important to muscle contractions, therefore to exercise. Amino acids generally exist in two forms—an L-form (which is compatible with human biochemistry), and a D-form. The two forms are referred to as isomers, meaning they exist as mirror images of each other. The L-form literally spirals one way; the D-form spirals the other.
Arginine is classified as semi-essential because the body can produce it in small quantities. Even so, growing children or others with nutritional concerns like protein malnutrition may need additional supplementation.
Arginine is also involved with ammonia detoxification and the immune function.
- Arginine plays an important—but somewhat roundabout—role in cell division and replication. As an amino acid, arginine promotes protein synthesis, which in turn stimulates cell division.
- Research indicates that arginine may help promote the size and effectiveness of the thymus gland, which typically decreases in size following puberty.
- Arginine is known to stimulate the production of white blood cells.
- Arginine is not considered a direct “shuttle” for nitrogen, but it does contain four nitrogen atoms in each molecule which makes it the most prolific nitrogen carrier we have. It also plays a role in metabolizing nitrogen, which is significant to health because nitrogen is essential for ammonia detoxification.
- The human cardiovascular system uses so-called messenger molecules to support various functions it needs to perform. One of those messenger molecules—nitric oxide—is produced with the help of arginine. The nitric oxide is synthesized in the cells surrounding blood vessels, thereby dilating the vessel walls and improving blood flow near the heart.
There are two sources of arginine: free-form arginine obtained from supplements, and dietary arginine obtained from plants and animals. Common plant sources include oatmeal, soybeans, granola, seeds, wheat germ, nuts, and flour. Rich animal sources include beef, seafood, yogurt, poultry, milk, pork, and whey protein drinks.
The structure function claims made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These dietary supplement products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.