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What is L-arginine?

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Quick Answer

L-arginine is an amino acid that is essential for creating proteins in the body, explains WebMD. The body converts it into nitric oxide, a chemical that widens the blood vessels for better blood flow. L-arginine also helps the body release bodily substances such as insulin and growth hormone.

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What is L-arginine?
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Full Answer

Foods rich in L-arginine include dairy products, fish, poultry and red meat, states WebMD. It is also available as a medicine. The amino acid is likely effective for decreasing the symptoms of chest pain or angina. While L-arginine does not treat the disease, it can improve the exercise capability of angina sufferers. Daily oral intake of L-arginine can enhance sexual function in people with erectile dysfunction. Evidence also suggests that L-arginine decreases blood pressure in healthy individuals and those with high blood pressure.

Based on scientific studies, the recommended daily oral dosage of L-arginine is 6 to 20 grams in three separate doses for people with congestive heart failure, says WebMD. Individuals with chest pain caused by coronary artery disease can take 3 to 6 grams of the supplement every day for less than one month.

L-arginine is mostly safe when properly taken by mouth, applied topically or given as a shot, notes WebMD. Possible side effects include stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, allergies, gout and blood abnormalities.

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