L-Arginine is a form of arginine, and is counted amongst the 20 common amino acids. It is considered nonessential amino acid, since the body can produce it. However, it may be a conditionally essential amino acid, or a semiessential amino acid, based upon the individual patient. In the case of preterm infants, who are not capable of meeting the required amount, arginine is considered nutritionally essential. If a person has poor nutrition including a very low intake of L-Arginine, then the production by the body may not be sufficient to cover its needs.
L-Arginine has many natural sources. Since the body may not produce ample amounts in all cases, individuals whose nutrition is poor may benefit from eating more foods containing L-Arginine. This may be the case for certain other groups as well. Natural sources of this amino acid include both animal and plant-based foods. Read about some of those foods here.
L-Arginine assists the body in cell division, healing wounds, immune function, removal of ammonia, and releasing hormones. It is also used as a method to lower blood pressure. Along with these, it has many other health benefits.
Although there are not many known side effects of L-Arginine, it is good to consider cautions that are based upon research, such as one known clinical trial. Patients may not want to take L-Arginine supplements after a heart attack, as a clinical trial noted that more patients taking the supplements died than those who took the placebo.
Arginine was first isolated by Swiss chemist Ernst Schulze, in 1886. It was found in extract of a lupine seedling.
Arginine along with lysine may be beneficial in treating the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Malate salt from this amino acid has a use as a treatment option for advanced cases of cirrhosis, as well as individuals with alcoholic hepatitis.
The body can synthesize arginine from citrulline, however, this has a high energy cost.