64 million people in the U.S. suffer from heart disease. With heart disease a major killer in the United States, there are hundreds of supplements competing for consumer attention. Individuals looking to improve their heart health or merely prevent heart problems are often overwhelmed with all the options. One supplement that has recently gained a good deal of attention is arginine.
Arginine, or L-Arginine, is the precursor to nitric oxide, a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that travel from neuron to neuron throughout the nervous system in a complex system of communication that plays a major part in running all the body systems.
Nitric oxide in particular is used by the body to trigger wound healing, maintain hormone function, manage the immune system, and assisting the kidney’s cleansing functions. It also assists blood vessel relaxation and blood circulation. Some studies have demonstrated an increase in blood flow to the arteries of the heart with arginine supplementation.
Arginine deficiencies are very uncommon, although many people choose to supplement with it. Foods that normally provide enough arginine in the average diet include whole grains, dairy, seeds, nuts, poultry, red meat, fish, and wheat germ.
Currently, there are no studies that examine long-term arginine use for cholesterol or heart health. But at least clinical trials indicate minimal side effects in use of arginine for a period of up to three months. However, in people with asthma it may worsen symptoms. Other possible side effects include bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gout. But most people experience no side effects and many report benefits from using arginine.