Like most amino acids, arginine (ARE-juh-nine) comes in two forms, an L-form and a D-form. These two forms are called isomers, meaning they are mirror images of each other. The L-form rotates light to the left; the D-form rotates light to the right. The L-form is the form compatible with human biochemistry.
Arginine was isolated from a lupin seedling in 1886, but it wasn't until 1932 that scientists linked it to the creation of urea, the waste product necessary to remove toxic ammonia from the body. Several years later, researchers also discovered L-arginine was needed to make creatine the chemical important to muscle contractions and performance during exercise.
Arginine is considered a semi-essential amino acid because the body can produce it but supplementation is sometimes still needed. People with protein malnutrition or other nutrition concerns may not have enough.
A sufficient quantity of arginine from food is especially important in the diets of children, especially those experiencing growth. It is also involved in ammonia removal.
- Arginine plays a role in the chemical signals between cells.
- Arginine plays various roles in protein metabolism.
- Arginine is popular with bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts.
- Arginine supports the effects of exercise.
- Arginine helps maintain coronary blood flow and vascular function.
- Arginine is involved in the formation of nitric oxide a compound involved in circulatory and immune system function.
- During workouts, nitric oxide production can help support circulation and muscles.
- Arginine plays an important role in the formation of protein, creatine and polyamines.
- Arginine increases protein synthesis, which in turn increases cellular replication. Therefore, arginine plays an important role in cell division.
- Arginine contains four nitrogen atoms per molecule, making it the most abundant nitrogen carrier in the body. Although it is not a direct shuttle for nitrogen, it plays a role in nitrogen metabolism because it is essential for ammonia detoxification.
- The body uses arginine to produce nitric oxide, a messenger molecule involved in various functions of the cardiovascular system. Arginine can support the synthesis of nitric oxide in the cells that line the blood vessels. This helps dilate vessel walls and supports blood flow around the heart.
There are two main sources of arginine dietary arginine, and free-form arginine from supplements. Dietary sources can be obtained from animals or plants.
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