Arginine is a non-essential amino acid and is abundant in protamines and histones – both proteins associated with nucleic acids and was first isolated in 1895 from animal horn. Newborns may produce this amino acid too slowly and for them arginine should be seen as an essential amino acid. Arginine is used by the body to make nitric oxide, a substance that relaxes blood vessels.
Arginine is vital for the production of protein. Only the L form of amino acids are constituents of protein. Arginine crosses the blood-brain barrier, is a precursor for nitric oxide and is a responsible for the secretion of hormones such as growth hormone, glucagon and insulin. Assists in wound healing, helps remove excess ammonia from the body, stimulates immune function, and promotes secretion of several hormones, including glucagon, insulin, and growth hormone.
For example, some, though not all, studies have found that men with low sperm counts experienced an increase in the number of sperm when they supplemented with arginine.
Functions of Arginine
- Arginine is required in muscle metabolism – maintaining the nitrogen balance, and helping with weight control since it facilitates the increase of muscle mass, while reducing body fat. This amino acid can be produced in the body; however, in newborn infants, production may not occur quickly enough to keep up with requirements. It is therefore deemed essential early in life.
- Arginine retards the growth of tumors and cancer by enhancing immune function. It increases the size and activity of the thymus gland, which manufactures T lymphocytes (T cells), crucial components of the immune system. Arginine may therefore benefit those suffering from AIDS and malignant diseases that suppress the immune system.
- It is essential in the good health of skin, liver, muscle and liver.
- It is also good for liver disorders such as cirrhosis of the liver and fatty liver; it aids in liver detoxification by neutralizing ammonia.
- It is also involved in a variety of enzymes and hormones. It aids in stimulating the pancreas to release insulin, is a component of the pituitary hormone vasopressin, and assists in the release of growth hormones. Because arginine is a component of collagen and aids in building new bone and tendon cells.
- Ornithine: Arginine takes part in the urea cycle and results in formation of urea and ornithine on hydrolysis. Ornithine not only plays role in urea cycle but also has a role in the formation of polyamine.
- Creatine: Arginine also contributes in the formation of creatine which is very important for the muscles as it increases muscle mass and their strength.
- Glutamic acid: This amino acid being glucogenic results in formation of creatine.
- Nitric Oxide: Arginine also gives rise to nitric oxide along with citrulline in the presence of enzyme nitric oxide synthase. This nitric oxide plays very important physiological role. It causes relaxation of the smooth muscles of blood vessels and therefore causes vasodilation. Nitric oxide also inhibits platelet aggregation.
- Studies have shown that it also reduces nitrogen losses in people who have undergone surgery, and improves the function of cells in lymphatic tissue. This amino acid aids in weight loss because it facilitates an increase in muscle mass and a reduction of body fat.
- Animal source: turkey, chicken, meat, milk, cottage, yogurt, cheese, pork, beef and in variety of sea foods.
- Plant source: Granola, wheat, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seed, cashews, almond, walnut, flour, popcorn, brown rice, etc.
- It is found in chocolate as well. In our body it is present abundantly in histones and protamines.
Deficiency Symptoms of Arginine
A variety of functions, including insulin production, glucose tolerance, and liver lipid metabolism, are impaired if the body is deficient in arginine.
- Alanine : The amino acid that helps the body to convert glucose, a simple sugar, into energy and also helps the body to eliminate excess toxins from the liver. (blissreturned.wordpress.com)
- Tyrosine : It aids in the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for skin and hair color) and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands. (blissreturned.wordpress.com)
- Lysine : The essential amino acid that is a basic building block of all protein. (blissreturned.wordpress.com)
- Threonine : The essential amino acid that helps to maintain the proper protein balance in the body. (blissreturned.wordpress.com)