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L-Arginine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in many foods, such as milk, meat, chicken, and fish. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, enzymes and hormones, and are now known to play a key role in physiological functions as well. Arginine is important in the process of neurotransmission, immune function, the relaxation of blood vessels and the flow of blood to the male and female sex organs.

Arginine and Nitric Oxide
In the body, L-arginine is required for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), a natural compound that the Journal of Science called the molecule of the year in 1993 because of its numerous health benefits. Nitric oxide enables the arterial system to retain its elasticity and the ability to increase the flow of blood to the tissues of the body. Arginine, via nitric oxide, works by allowing the capillaries to expand and contract, moving blood through the blood vessels.

Arginine and Impotence
At the onset of an erection, Arginine is enzymatically cleaved by the enzyme nitrous oxide synthase (NOS), resulting in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide enables two rods of sponge like tissue, (the corpora caverno-sum & corpus spongiosumin) in the penis to relax, allowing the inflow of blood and causing the penis to become erect. Unless sufficient nitric oxide is produced, a penile erection will not occur. In some men, including those men over the age of 50, arterial disease leads to a reduction in blood flow to the penis. Arterial restriction and impotence is common in patients with heart disease and diabetes.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, have concluded that in some cases of male impotence, a natural enzyme called arge-nase can break down L-arginine before it is able to produce nitric oxide. This research suggests that the addition of large amounts of dietary L-arginine may replace some of the body's own arginine that is being destroyed by this enzyme. Supplementation with dietary L-arginine should help increase the body's supply of nitric oxide, and a man's ability to have a normal erection. More research needs to be carried out with dietary L-arginine.

L-Arginine Improves Circulation:
A research study performed by the Institute of Clinical Pharmacology in Germany demonstrated that the use of L-arginine increased the formation of nitric oxide and vaso-dilatation in atherosclerotic patients. In this double-blind placebo controlled study, thirty-nine patients with intermittent claudication were supplemented with L-arginine for a period of three weeks. Those individuals supplemented with L-arginine showed improved circulation and a corresponding decrease in vascular induced pain.

Arginine and Increased Fertility:
Several studies have examined the use of arginine supplementation in the treatment of male infertility. Schacter et al., found a 100% increase in the sperm counts of forty-two males after supplementation with L-arginine. An increase in sperm mobility was also noted in the study. It is postulated that an arginine deficiency may cause a metabolic disorder in tissues where sperm development is taking place. Other studies have indicated that arginine deficiency appears to have a specific effect on the development of reproductive functions in women, since reduced arginine levels can cause a significant delay in puberty.

Arginine and GH Release:
Arginine has been shown to promote the release of natural growth hormone from the pituitary gland. The amount of growth hormone secreted in response to L-arginine supplementation varies widely among individuals. Arginine in high doses given intravenously, has been shown to release human growth hormone (HGH), glucagon and insulin. Arginine may help play a role as an anti-aging nutrient, since many age related degenerative diseases are associated with a significant reduction in growth hormone levels.

Safety and Use:
L-arginine supplementation is safe when taken in reasonable doses. A range of 3000 mg to 6000 mg per day appears to be the recommended level. L-arginine has been shown to have some toxic effects (liver and kidneys), when taken in levels of over 40 grams per day. Individuals with liver or kidney problems should consult their physician before taking large doses of any amino acids.

Schachter A. et al., "Treatment of oligo- spermia with the amino acid arginine." J. Urol. 110:311-313;1973.
Zorgniotti A.W., and Lizza, E F., "Effect of large doses of the nitric oxide precursor, L-arginine on erectile dysfunction., "Int. Journal of Impotence Research 6:33-36; 1994.
Adaikins P.G. et al., "Pharmacology of penile erection in humans" Cardiovascular Intervent. Radiol.". 11 (4): 191-94; 1988.
B"oger RH et al., " Restoring vascular nitric oxide formation by L-arginine improves the symptoms of intermittent claudication in patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease." Am. Coll; 32 (5): 1336-44, 1998.
Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the PDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have medical problems, consult a professional.

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