Ingredient Spotlight: L-Arginine for Libido and More
L-arginine is an important amino acid, a building block that your body uses to create proteins. It was discovered by Sven Gustaf Hedin, a Swedish chemist and physiologist, in 1895. Although L-arginine is produced by the body, it's still necessary that we get more of it through our diets. L-arginine comprises approximately five to seven percent of the amino acids that you eat every day. Good food sources of this amino acid include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and nuts.
What is L-Arginine?
L-arginine is a precursor for the synthesis of various other compounds that the body needs, including agmatine, creatine, glutamate, polyamines, proline and urea. Because L-arginine is used to make urea, it is an essential component of the urea cycle, the body's only way of eliminating toxic ammonia from the body. L-arginine is also the only precursor for nitric oxide (NO).
Nitric oxide is important for healthy and efficient function of the cardiovascular system. It helps to dilate blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow. This can have a wide range of positive effects on the whole body. Nitric oxide is also important for the central nervous system and the immune system, cell renewal, and the release of growth hormone insulin and other substances.
Why Take L-Arginine for Libido?
Because this amino acid is crucial for blood flow and cell renewal, L-arginine for libido is an effective choice for supporting optimal sexual function. L-arginine's positive effects on blood flow mean that it promotes healthy circulation to the sex organs, supporting healthy erections. Studies confirm this use of L-arginine, with one study showing significant improvement in for a large portion of volunteers after just six weeks of L-arginine supplementation.
The cell renewal aspect of L-arginine means that it can help support healthy fertility. Taking an L-arginine supplement can directly improve a man's sperm volume, sperm count and sperm motility. This amino acid's role in spermatogenesis has been known for decades. Over 50 years ago, researchers showed that an arginine-deficient diet would decrease a man's sperm count by 90 percent in just nine days, and increase the percentage of non-motile sperm by 10 times. By contrast, more recent research has found that taking an arginine supplement daily for six to eight weeks results in noticeably healthier sperm count and sperm motility, contributing to successful pregnancies in the volunteers' partners.
L-arginine for libido seems to work for women, too. One study examined women between the ages of 22 and 73 who reported having low libido and found that giving the women L-arginine supplements resulted in a more satisfying sex life. After supplementation, the women experienced greater sexual desire, more frequent sex and higher overall sexual satisfaction. Because L-arginine helps cellular health, it could also support optimal fertility in women by helping eggs mature properly.
L-Arginine also Helps With Other Diseases
Aside from taking L-arginine for libido, it's great for other health concerns. Supplementation with L-arginine may help support cardiovascular health and could be helpful for people with cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease, clogged arteries, angina, peripheral vascular disease and cerebrovascular disease. Of course, if you have a medical condition or are taking any medications, consult your physician before taking L-arginine or any other supplement. L-arginine can boost your health and healing, but if you have a serious health condition you also need treatment from a medical professional.
Considerations When Using L-Arginine
As with virtually any dietary supplement, there are important things to keep in mind regarding safety. Although L-arginine is a nutrient that occurs naturally in your body, taking an L-arginine supplement can cause negative effects for some people. Nausea and diarrhea can occur at doses higher than 15 grams. However, most people don't take L-arginine in doses that large. The greater concern is interactions that the amino acid has with certain medical conditions and situations.
Because L-arginine may make respiratory swelling worse, you should use L-arginine with caution if you have asthma. Some evidence suggests that L-arginine is used for reproduction by the herpes virus, so you may want to avoid this supplement if you have herpes of any kind, even small cold sores. Because L-arginine can reduce blood pressure, you shouldn't use it if you already suffer from low blood pressure. L-arginine should be used with caution and under the care of a doctor by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.