Athletes and health specialists have long known the benefits of increasing their amino acid intake to get a boost in stamina and strength.

After all, amino acids play a vital role in our immune system, fertility, and all other metabolic processes.

With that in mind, it’s important to understand what amino acids are and which are of importance and value to our body and health.

What are amino acids?

To put it in simple terms, amino acids are organic compounds made up of 4 key elements: nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon.

There are more than 400 amino acids that have biological functions. Of those, there are 23 proteinogenic amino acids, which have a different role in our body, like creating protein and body tissue (such as skin, hair, etc.), transporting nutrients, and building enzymes, hormones and neurotransmitters.

Any deficiency of amino acids affects the body’s functions, which is why it’s important to keep levels balanced. Of course, each amino acid has its benefits and influences our metabolic process differently.

This time, we’re focusing on one of the most important and widely-used amino acids, L-arginine.

What is L-arginine?

L-Arginine Amino Acid

L-arginine is an amino acid, or a ‘chemical building block’ that is necessary for the body to make proteins. In the body, it converts into a chemical called nitric oxide, which is vital to blood flow as it opens blood vessels.

Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid, meaning that during certain phases in life (such as sickness, growth spurt or old age) the body may not be producing enough from other vitamins and amino acids.

It’s popular among athletes and bodybuilders as it’s required in muscle metabolism.

Why is L-arginine important to your body?

L-arginine has many important functions in your body. Among its many roles:

  • It forms nitric oxide, which has an important role in regulating blood circulation and pressure. Nitric oxide is vital in decreasing high blood pressure and helps increase potency.
  • It works with the body’s hormone synthesis, playing an important role in the production of insulin and the release of growth hormones.
  • L-arginine strengthens the immune system. It is an element of white blood cells and helps the body’s defense against viruses.
  • It also stimulates collagen synthesis, improving wound healing.
  • For men, L-arginine is vital in the development of sperm as it forms spermine and spermidine.
  • L-arginine helps build protein and collagen in the body.
  • Finally, it helps detox the body through the urea cycle by helping the kidneys remove waste products from our body.

Where can you find L-arginine?

L-arginine can be obtained through diet by eating read meat, poultry, dairy products and fish. The content in these foods is between 3-7%.

Nuts and seeds such as walnuts, pumpkin seeds and pine nuts contain about 10-15% of this amino acid.

It’s also created in laboratories for easier consumption and is usually made from plant-based raw materials.

Daily requirements of Arginine

A balanced diet will usually provide sufficient arginine, at about 1000-5000mg.

However, for intensely active lifestyles, that may not be enough. The amount may be insufficient for those suffering from a disease or recovering from injury as well.

Athletes may need to increase their daily consumption temporarily to 30,000mg.