I’m being followed! Everyday while I’m on the Internet, I’m being followed. No, it isn’t another person, it’s a banner ad featuring a supplement containing arginine. The ad touts the supplement’s ability to fight bad things like high cholesterol and heart attacks. Since my curiosity was aroused, I decided to dig deeper. Can arginine protect you from heart disease?
Arginine (also called L-arginine) is considered an essential amino acid, or building block of protein, produced in your body. Additionally, many of the foods you eat are rich in protein, such as dairy products and meats. Arginine is known for its role in producing an important chemical messenger in your body called nitric oxide, which is vital to the proper function of your cardiovascular system. Nitric oxide keeps blood vessels flexible and helps boost blood flow, both of which benefit your heart.
The latest preliminary research indicates arginine as benefiting:
- lower blood pressure;
- improved function in blood vessels; and
- better coronary blood flow.
On the flip side, two studies found concerns about arginine supplements and their effectiveness on heart health. A 2006 study at John Hopkins Hospital was halted by researchers, leading them to warn against using arginine in heart attack patients. A 2007 Stanford University study, concluded that arginine supplements were “not useful” in people suffering from peripheral artery disease.
The uncertain performance of arginine for heart health, hasn’t stopped some marketers from claiming it helps with low sex drive, muscle building, and diabetes. However, research has found little or no evidence supporting the effectiveness of arginine supplements for these issues.
The Bottom Line: Human studies have found no evidence that arginine supplements prevent heart disease. Arginine shows some promise, but only preliminary hope for now. I’ll probably have more interest in them, when research conclusively shows significant health benefits.
What’s your take on arginine?
It’s your life, live well.