This is what is known as a “conditionally non essential amino acid”. This means that most of the time it can be made in the body from the amino acid citrulline, however arginine production from citrulline alone can be insufficient for daily needs, especially when bodily demand is increased. It is found in chicken, pork and dairy products, being concentrated in whey protein powders. It is also found in nuts such as hazelnuts, pecans and walnuts, as well as grains such as barley, oats and brown rice. Citrulline is produced from glutamine and glutamate in the cells lining the small intestine. It is absorbed in the blood and transported to the kidneys where it is converted to arginine and returned to the blood.
Arginine is not only needed to synthesise protein in the body but is the immediate precursor for the creation of nitric oxide. It is also necessary for the synthesis of creatine, which is a protein that contributes to muscle mass and power. This process produces creatinine as a waste product and arginine is also involved in the elimination of this. Nitric oxide is a molecule that helps the cells transmit signals through the body. Amongst other functions, nitric oxide is known to reduce inflammation and increase strength and endurance. Decreased nitric oxide production is associated with increased body fat deposition and increased nitric oxide production is associated with fat lipolysis. Nitric oxide stimulates the uptake of glucose and fatty acid oxidation in skeletal muscle, heart, liver and adipose tissue and inhibits the synthesis of glucose, glycogen and fat in the liver and adipose.
Recommended dose: MedlinePlus states “an ordinary dose of arginine for a mature person is 2-3gm”, research suggests up to 16gm a day can be utilized for 6 months.