By: Marlene Affeld ~
L-arginine, the latest “weight-loss miracle” touted by TV celebrity doctors, fitness gurus, bodybuilders and personal trainers is said to help dieters shed unwanted and unhealthy belly fat. Like millions of people across America desiring to shed a few stubborn pounds, I am intrigued, and wonder does it work?
Although some medical research studies suggest that L-arginine may benefit a diverse array of health conditions including weight loss, other research projects show that L-arginine may have harmful effects on some individuals. It may or may not be the diet answer for you.
Healthcare providers recommend that if you are considering L-arginine benefits for any specific health condition including weight loss, that you do so under the guidance of a doctor or other medical professional who can monitor you and your medications and who understands the side effects and possible complications that can happen if L-arginine is used combination with certain other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.
What is L-arginine?
One of 22 chemical building blocks known as amino acids found in the human diet, L-arginine is required for the production of protein, helps rid the body of ammonia and stimulates the release of insulin and growth hormone.
However, the main function of L-arginine in the human body has been shown to be its role in increasing nitric oxide (NO), a compound that relaxes the blood vessels and allows them to open wider for improved blood flow.
Because of this characteristic, L-arginine shows benefit in reducing recurrent foot and leg pain due to poor circulation from blocked arteries. The powerful amino acid is also included in a cream formulation for sexual problems in both men and women.
An amino acid normally produced by the body. Additionally, L-arginine is found in dairy products, red meat, poultry, fish, nuts (especially pumpkin seeds and peanuts) and other foods that contain protein. L-arginine is also produced in medical laboratories for use as medication.
Under medical supervision, L-arginine is used for the treatment of blood vessel and heart conditions including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, chest pain and coronary artery disease.
Your physician may also prescribe L-arginine supplementation to treat recurrent pain in the legs due to block arteries, erectile dysfunction (ED), male infertility, senior dementia or decreased mental capacity in the elderly, peripheral vascular disease, and headaches caused by blood vessel swelling.
L-arginine is frequently used to help improve kidney function after a kidney transplant, boost the immune system, prevent inflammation of the digestive system in premature infants and to treat high blood pressure in women during pregnancy.
Because L-arginine prompts the body to make protein, ongoing research studies show promise in Arginine’s usefulness in building muscle mass in weight lifters, enhancing sperm production and increasing libido.
Test studies also indicate that in combination with conventional chemotherapy drugs, L-arginine has proven beneficial for treating breast cancer and in combination with other amino acids is a effective treatment for weight loss and wasting in persons with AIDS. When paired with fish oil, L-arginine fights infection, speeds healing and reduces recovery time after surgery. Used together with ibuprofen it provides relief of migraine pain.
L-arginine and Weight Loss
Although amino acids have been used for years by body builders to build muscles and mass, a recent pilot study published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements focuses on the benefits of L-arginine for helping the body shed visceral adipose tissue or belly fat. Belly fat is particularly worrisome to doctors as people who carry a large amount of visceral fat in the abdomen have a higher metabolic and cardiovascular risk than those with excess weight from other types of obesity.
Scientific Study L-arginine Weight Loss Claims
The research study, implemented by researchers at the Mayo Clinic, recruited 20 non-diabetic, obese women between the ages of 18-40 with BMI scores ranging from 30 to 40. Participants consumed 3 grams of L-arginine 3 times daily for 12 weeks.
Labdoor.com reports study results noting:
“L-arginine supplementation led to:
• Reduced waist circumference (WC). WC is a good indicator of central obesity, a result of the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue. Waist circumference was recorded at 109 cm after 12 weeks, significantly below the 116cm baseline measurement taken at the study’s start.
• Weight Loss. Participants recorded a 6.5-pound loss, on average, as well as lower BMI scores.
In this study, supplementation seemed to be well tolerated, with no side effects observed. However, some studies have noted side-effects after L-arginine supplementation, including:
1. A risk of reactivating otherwise dormant viruses. Lysine and arginine compete for intracellular transport, with the general idea being that when one is transported inside the cell, the other is not. Some studies suggest that lysine inhibits viral replication while arginine is necessary for some viruses, such as the herpes simplex virus, to thrive
2. A six-month, clinical study evaluating the effect of l-arginine on blood vessel stiffness and improving overall heart function after a myocardial infarction (heart attack) suggested no beneficial effect.
Awareness of potential sides effect should be an essential in supplementing decisions. It should be noted that this study does not irreversibly prove L-arginine’s safety or efficacy; larger scale studies will be needed to more accurately assess these effects. With the current evidence, however, it seems like short-term L-arginine supplementation (up to 12 weeks) is a promising way to increase fat metabolism, lower levels of visceral belly fat, and improve overall cardio-metabolic function.”