L-arginine changes nothing for fit young men at rest: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Amino acid Metabolism

Arginine is found in a range of foods, including meat, dairy, seafood, nuts, chickpeas, and wheat germ
Arginine is found in a range of foods, including meat, dairy, seafood, nuts, chickpeas, and wheat germ
Supplements of the amino acid L-arginine may not produce metabolic or hormonal enhancement for fit young men at rest, says a new study from Canada.

Scott Forbes and Gordon Bell from the University of Alberta report that while low and high doses of the amino acid did raise blood levels in athletes at rest, neither dose appeared to impact levels of nitric oxide, growth hormone, insulin, or insulin-like growth factor-1.

L-arginine is a precursor for nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator (blood vessel dilator) that improves blood flow. The amino acid has also been reported to raise blood levels of growth hormone.

The new study, which involved 14, active, physically twenty-something men, is reported to be the first to assess the effects of L-arginine on various hormonal and metabolic markers.

“Despite the increase in L-arginine and the absence of side effects, the doses used in our study had little effect on certain metabolites or hormonal concentrations at rest,”​ wrote the researchers.

No surprises

The study’s findings were described as “not surprising”​ by Douglas Kalman PhD, RD, FACN, director, BD - Nutrition & Applied Clinical Trials, Miami Research Associates.

Commenting independently on the results, Dr Kalman told NutraIngredients-USA that previous studies where a ‘blood effect’ of arginine has been reported have, for the most part, been done in people with vascular disease. “Studies in ‘normal healthies’ have not yielded the same,”​ he added.

Study details

Fourteen men described as active and physically fit, but who did not take nutritional supplements were recruited. The men were assigned to receive placebo, or a single low or high dose of L-arginine equivalent to 0.075 and 0.15 grams of L-arginine per kg of body mass, respectively.

Forbes and Bell report that both doses produced similar increases in blood levels of the amino acid, but neither affected the various hormonal and metabolic measures in healthy, young, physically active males at rest.

Next stage

"There's a lot of money in nutritional supplements,"​ said Forbes adds. "The industry might not be too happy when they see the results at rest, but who knows, it may be different with exercise."

Forbes told NutraIngredients-USA that he is just finishing two exercise studies with trained athletes. One study involves L-arginine supplementation prior to resistance exercise and the other study involves L-arginine supplementation prior to 60 minutes of sub-maximal cycling.

“L-arginine seems to be a very popular supplement and little is known about the effects of the supplement alone on exercise performance,” ​said Forbes. “Several studies and supplements combine L-arginine with other ingredients making causal claims difficult.”

Source: Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Volume 36, Issue 3, Pages 405-411
“The acute effects of a low and high dose of oral L-arginine supplementation in young, active males at rest”
Authors: S.C. Forbes, G.J. Bell

Related topics Research

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1 comment


Posted by Anna Jacobs,

I'm a novelist and I find l-arginine enhances my imagination - whether it's increasing blood flow to the brain or what, I don't know. But I'm going to continue taking it.

I'm in too small a segment of the population for this to form the basis for a research study, I know, but I thought someone might be interested.

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