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Wide Ranging Positive Effects of Arginine



Posted in..: Research & Development
By Jeff Volek - Chat with Doug on the ProSource Fitness Forum
Aug 9, 2012
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Arginine is an interesting amino acid that is technically classified as non-essential since our bodies can make it, but because it becomes limiting in many circumstances it is usually referred to as conditionally dispensable.  A wide range of studies have examined the effects of arginine supplementation of various aspects of health and
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performance.  For example, arginine is the rate limiting amino acid in the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), a gaseous substance that causes blood vessels to dilate.  It is well known that increasing the bioavailability of NO improves dilation of blood vessels and blood pressure, but emerging evidence suggests exercise efficiency and performance may benefit as well.  In one study healthy men performed an exercise test on a cycle on two occasions an hour after consuming either 6 grams of arginine or a placebo.  Arginine supplementation reduced the amount of oxygen (i.e., increased efficiency) required to perform exercise.  This means that individuals accomplished the same exercise load but with less energy.  Arginine supplementation also increased time to exhaustion by 26% during high intensity cycling.  Other work has shown that arginine supplementation may increase growth hormone (GH).  When arginine is infused directly into a vein, GH levels increase dramatically.  In fact, arginine infusion is used clinically as a diagnostic test when GH deficiency is suspected.  The dose of oral arginine needed to increase GH levels appears to be at least 5 grams with larger responses shown with 9 grams.  In a different study, a combination formula consisting of 7 g of arginine with 1.5 g HMB, 7 g of glutamine, and 3 g taurine resulted in striking improvements in body composition.  Compared to a control group who received a placebo, healthy young men who supplemented with the arginine formula during 12 weeks of heavy resistance training showed a 10 pound greater increase in lean body mass.   Thus arginine supplementation alone or in conjunction with other nutrients holds promise in a variety of contexts related to health and performance.   Studies in healthy individuals show wide variability in the absorption of arginine after different oral doses suggesting that the ideal dose needs to be customized to each person.  

.   Bailey SJ, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, Dimenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Jones AM. Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol. 2010 Aug 19.    van Vught  .  AJ, Nieuwenhuizen AG, Brummer RJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. Effects of oral ingestion of amino acids and proteins on the somatotropic axis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Feb;93(2):584-90.
.  Collier SR, Casey DP, Kanaley JA. Growth hormone responses to varying doses of oral arginine. Growth Horm IGF Res. 2005 Apr;15(2):136-9. Epub 2005 Jan 26.
.  Collier SR, Collins E, Kanaley JA. Oral arginine attenuates the growth hormone response to resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 2006 Sep;101(3):848-52.
.  Kraemer WJ, Hatfield DL, Volek JS, Fragala MS, Vingren JL, Anderson JM, Spiering BA, Thomas GA, Ho JY, Quann EE, Izquierdo M, Häkkinen K, Maresh CM. Effects of Amino Acids Supplement on Physiological Adaptations to Resistance Training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Apr 3. [Epub ahead of print]




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