There is a key amino acid that is absolutely critical to human performance, no matter your age, it’s the semi-essential amino acid called L-Arginine. Most of the L-Arginine benefits you see today center on your cardiovascular system and sexual function. While these are critical, and we’ll discuss them, L-Arginine benefits you buy fueling multiple metabolic pathways that are essential for optimum human performance.
Before we get started, I want to address a statement that is being made by several nitric oxide supplement manufacturers that use a nitrite pathway. It uses these centers around the general statement “L-Arginine is nearly useless for people over 40”. Do not fall for this marketing trick to get you to buy a product that tells you an L-Arginine is bad for you if you’re over the age of 40. It is a misrepresentation of the facts, and this article will help you understand how L-Arginine benefits everyone, especially those over the age of 40.
Let’s start out by looking at L-Arginine’s main claim to fame, which is its ability to be converted to nitric oxide, the master signaling molecule of your entire cardiovascular system. In 1998 the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to 3 explorers who found how the endothelium, which is a tissue that lines all of your cardiovascular systems, converts the semi-essential amino acid L-Arginine into nitric oxide.
Your endothelium is only one cell thick, and it lines all of your vascular systems. The inside of your heart is lined by the endothelium, all your arteries and veins, arterioles and venules are lined by this one cell thick tissue. One of endothelium functions is to convert L-Arginine into nitric oxide.
Before we look at the importance of L-Arginine, let’s first understand nitric oxide. Outside your body, it’s considered a pollutant, but inside your body nitric oxide acts as a signaling molecule. All this means is that it causes something else to occur. For example, in the bloodstream nitric oxide has three specific properties.
First, it causes a smooth muscle to relax. This results in vasodilation allowing for greater blood flow into a tissue or organ. This typically helps bring blood pressure back into a normal range. For those with high blood pressure, this can be a natural way to address this cardiovascular concern. Second, nitric oxide helps keep blood platelet cells from sticking together to prevent heart attacks and strokes naturally. Third, nitric oxide starts reparative mechanisms that help heal the harm done to the endothelium to help maintain its capability to make nitric oxide. This repetitive process also prevents plaque formations and calcification, which accounts for approximately 74% of all cardiovascular disease.
The following picture will help you better understand this disease process. As you can see in our twenties and thirties, we typically have a healthy endothelium, which produces a beneficial amount of nitric oxide. But as we age, damage occurs to the endothelium, resulting in inflammation leading to plaque formation and calcification. High blood pressure, high sugar levels, LDL or bad cholesterol, and nicotine – all directly damage the endothelium. As this picture shows, this damage has the detrimental effect on your vascular system, leading to significantly less nitric oxide production, while increasing your risk of strokes and heart attacks as well as other cardiovascular health concerns. Unless you’re actively nourishing the endothelium to enhance its ability to properly produce nitric oxide, this damage will continue to occur.
So the real question is, how can you best nourish the endothelium so that nitric oxide can initiate the reparative mechanisms needed to help maintain a healthy vascular system? This is where L-Arginine comes in. L-Arginine is now classified as a semi-essential amino acid. What this means is that your body can produce its own L-Arginine but not in high enough quantities to maintain optimal health, especially for the vascular system. Even the Mayo Clinic recognizes the importance of L-Arginine for improved cardiovascular health.
With one out of every three Americans having some form of cardiovascular disease, you can begin to see how a natural ingredient like L-Arginine can provide huge benefits and reducing a person’s risk for diseases associated with the cardiovascular system.
The next big claim to fame is how L-Arginine can be used to improve sexual function. While there is a lot that can be said in this area, the bottom line for men is this, “no nitric oxide no sex!”. Nitric oxide is needed to cause vasodilation, which relaxes the blood vessels, allowing the male organ to completely fill with blood, resulting in an erection.
Where does this nitric oxide come from? When a man is stimulated either by thought or touch or a combination of both, the best and most effective means for the creation of nitric oxide is through the enzymes of the endothelium converting L-Arginine into the signaling molecule. The ability of the endothelium to continue to convert L-Arginine into nitric oxide over a long period of time provides the stain power to maintain an erection. And while female anatomy is different, the sexual arousal and enlargement are also dependent upon nitric oxide causing vasodilation for greater blood flow, leading to a more satisfying experience. As you can see nitric oxide is critical to human health and performance. However, the production of nitric oxide is only one metabolic pathway that is fueled by an L-Arginine.