What is Arginine?

Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid, which means that the body cannot produce it naturally. It is therefore important to consume foods that are rich in Arginine.

Arginine is a known precursor to the gas Nitric Oxide (NO2), which amongst other things is responsible for many anabolic processes and vasodilation (increased diameter of blood vessels, resulting in the pumped up feeling that is felt in the muscles whilst training). As a result, it is often used to treat sexual dysfunction, high blood pressure, heart disease, Angina and male/female infertility.

Arginine Supplementation

L-Arginine is an essential amino acid - it cannot be produced by the body.

Arginine is key in many biological processes, including:

  • The removal of toxic waste products from the body.
  • Hormone secretion.
  • Many functions of the immune system.

Some of the positive effects of Arginine, which have lead to its increasing popularity amongst the bodybuilding community include:

  • Its ability to scavenge and remove free radicals from the body,
  • It increases fat metabolism,
  • It regulates salt levels in the body,
  • It reduces cholesterol,
  • It increase HGH (Human Growth Hormone) levels,
  • Most importantly for its’ Nitric Oxide producing ability.

Substantial amounts of Arginine can be found in seeds, nuts, raisins and chocolate. It is also available relatively cheaply in supplement form.

How Much Arginine Should I Take?

There is no ‘one size fits all’ serving size when it comes to Arginine. Working out what is best for you involves a process known as ‘tolerance mapping‘. This involves taking a small dose, consistently, for a week and noting how it makes you feel along with any benefits you notice, either physiologically or in the gym. Then increase the amount you are taking until you are at a point where you have maximum benefit, with minimal side effects.

An overdose of Arginine can cause nausea, diarrhea and general weakness, so it is important that tolerance mapping is carried out, rather than embarking on a full dose straight away.


Anyone with a heart condition, is pregnant or has any psychological condition, should contact their doctor before beginning Arginine supplementation.

Photo Credit: widdowquinn

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