The Sources and Benefits of the Amino Acid Arginine

The amino acid arginine is very essential and provides various health benefits to humans. They are among the few amino acids that the human body is able to produce by itself and there are also food sources for arginine.

A bowl of nuts

The amino acid arginine can be found in different foods like dairy, poultry, and fish. Arginine is part of the protein building blocks in the human body. There are a total of twenty amino acids that the body needs. These are categorized into three different groups based on their functionality, we have the essential, conditionally essential, and nonessential amino acids. Each one has its specific function and can be gotten through our meals. However, your body can produce some of the amino acids but we must make up for the one which it can’t produce through our diet. 

Arginine is one of the twenty useful amino acids and research suggests this particular amino acid to have health benefits such as easing chest pain, decreasing blood pressure, and enhancing erectile dysfunction. Our body produces arginine for its use but there are still some few people who are arginine deficient due to certain reasons. These categories of people usually make up the insufficient arginine with supplements or food items that can supply your body with this amino acid. It is also recommended for children to eat food that contains arginine as they need it for their growth.  

Arginine Food Sources 

The following food have high arginine content;

1. Seeds and Nuts

These are significant arginine sources. The seed with the highest amount of this amino acid is pumpkin, one cup of squash or dried pumpkins supplies 6.1 arginines in grams. Another good seed source is watermelon seeds. Americans often spit out these seeds but one cup of it contains 5.3 grams. The seeds obtained from sesame is the next good arginine source. It supplies 4.9 grams per serving or cup. 

Nuts which contains arginine includes; 

  • Dried walnuts, each cup has 4.5 grams
  • Almonds, each cup has 3.5 grams
  • Pine nuts, each cup has 3.3 grams 

The process involved in preparing nuts affects its arginine concentration slightly. But varieties of this nut with no added salt or oil are usually more healthy. 

2. Meat Products

Meat is listed amongst the complete protein sources because it contains all the required amino acids including arginine. White meat, particularly turkey breasts are a very good sources of arginine. These are some of the meat products with their high arginine concentration;

  • Turkey breast has 16.2 grams 
  • Chicken provides 2.7grmas per cup. It also has a low-fat content
  • Pork loin has about 2.7grams of this amino acid
  • Cooked beef provides 4.1 grams. Although beef is protein-rich, it has a higher amount of fat than most protein food. 

3. Legumes

  • Legumes are a family name for peas, pulses, and beans. They are great to plant obtained protein sources. Examples of these legumes are;
    • Soybeans serve as an arginine source option to meat. There are 5,9 grams of this essential amino acid in one serving of soybeans. That makes it a healthy meat alternative.
    • Raw peanuts: it offers 4.6 grams per cup. They are an excellent source of arginine because of their healthy unsaturated fat content. 
    • Garbanzo beans or chickpeas has about 3.9 gram in a cup. Healthy fats are also found in chickpeas and they are popularly added to salads. 

4. Seaweed 

This is a well known healthy food. Seaweed offers very high arginine levels, 4.6grams can be found per dried seaweed cup. This is a good one to include in your diet if you desire to increase your arginine intake. 

Amino Acid Arginine Food Sources

The Amino Acid Arginine Benefits 

Arginine is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid because it is produced in the body and also obtained from outside food sources. Children need this amino acid for their growth that is why parents are encouraged to give their children arginine-rich foods. As for adults, they only need the arginine produced in their bodies. However, there are some adults whose bodies do not make enough of this nutrient and need to get it from their diet or they might be at high risk of a deficiency. 

There are available arginine supplements that can enhance human health in several ways. In 2013 a study was carried out and it was suggested that supplements of arginine may improve the flow of blood in uncomplicated diabetes patients. An improved flow of blood will, in turn, reduce cardiovascular conditions effect like angina and disease of the coronary artery. 

Arginine can not, however, be used as a treatment for all diseases of the heart. There are instances when doctors instruct a patient who is just recovering from a heart attack to avoid taking arginine.

Cardiac issues induced erectile dysfunction can be treated with arginine. For instance, if an erection cannot be sustained due to some blood vessel issue then the doctor may recommend the patient to take arginine supplements which would improve the flow of blood. 

Other Medical Uses of Arginine

Helping the kidneys to function more effectively

Arginine Risks 

There is evidence that suggests that increased arginine levels can worsen herpes symptoms, potentially causing cold sores or outbreaks. That is because of the herpes virus multiples in the presence of arginine. Also, when you absorb more arginine, it may disrupt the arginine and lysine balance in the body indirectly, resulting in cold sores. 

Lysine is also an amino acid, and one of its functions is to prevent and treat cold sores. Both arginine and lysine share the same absorption pathway, so if excess arginine is present, lysine would not be digested as the pathway will be filled with arginine. 

People living with decreased blood pressure or liver cirrhosis usually avoid using supplements of the amino acid arginine. 

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