The effects of arginine: the most important questions and answers

Die Wirkung von Arginin: Die wichtigsten Fragen und Antworten

The effects of arginine are largely confirmed and actually find some applications in various diseases or physical problems. Nevertheless, the effect of arginine is controversial in some areas of application and needs further research.

This article confirms the benefits of arginine, but also addresses doubts in other areas and is based on well-recognized clinical studies. This article is intended to provide the reader with clarity about the various effects of arginine and ensures neutral reporting.

the essentials in brief

Arginine is an amino acid and, like all others, contributes to a functioning organism. The most important property of arginine is its synthesis into nitric oxide, which is essential for health.

The most important questions about the topic "effect of arginine" are answered in detail in this article and should clear up any doubts. You will find out whether arginine has side effects, what arginine has to do with citrulline and for whom it makes sense to take it.

Due to the special nature of arginine, in principle no alternatives to other substances or amino acids can be found. Nevertheless, you can take arginine in different forms and choose an alternative.

The effects of arginine: what you should know

Arginine is a proteinogenic amino acid and is naturally produced in the body through ingestion of food. Arginine is also often referred to as L-arginine because the molecules of this amino acid arrange themselves in an L-shape.(1)

Essentially, the metabolism of arginine produces nitrogen monoxide (NO), which performs many useful functions in the human body. The following table shows how the effect of arginine can have a positive effect:

Application Effect
high blood pressure Arginine not only promotes blood circulation, but also dilates the vessels. This leads to a natural reduction in blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attacks or strokes.(2)
wound healing Arginine not only moisturizes the skin, but also makes it more resilient and can even lead to the regeneration of skin damage.(3)
type 2 diabetes Excessive intake of arginine has been shown to improve insulin levels and prevent excessive blood sugar levels.(4,5)
hair loss The metabolized NO stimulates blood flow to the hair roots, increases hair growth and can thus prevent hair loss.(6)
periodontitis Arginine can destroy dental biofilm. The influence on the cells causes bacteria to no longer be able to adhere to the tooth surface.(7)
erectile dysfunction L-arginine intake may help increase both male and female libido and affect reproductive health.(8)
muscle building Arginine may be responsible for improving l function that promotes muscle fiber formation.(9)

Obviously, arginine and the resulting nitric oxide are used in many different areas of our body and have positive effects on various ailments and complaints.

How long does it take for arginine to work?

Since the body absorbs arginine naturally from food, it's hard to tell when arginine will take effect. In any case, the metabolization of arginine into nitric oxide must be complete for the NO to have its full effect.

According to some reports, this happens about 20 minutes after ingestion. However, this is not scientifically supported. If you eat foods that contain L-arginine daily, or at least regularly, arginine will work consistently like all other amino acids.(10)

If you use arginine as a dietary supplement for sports activities, you should take the capsules or powder about 20-30 minutes beforehand so that it works during physical activity.

What do manufacturers say about the effects of arginine?

Relevant statements about the effect of arginine are made by various manufacturers such as bulk, Avitale, pro medico, Vitamaze, Quiris Healthcare, Queisser Pharma or Zein Pharma. According to pharmaceutical manufacturers who market L-arginine primarily in powder or capsule form, supplementing with arginine brings the following benefits:

  • Strengthening of the muscles
  • Treatment of vascular dysfunction
  • provides energy for sport
  • lowering blood pressure
  • fat loss
  • balanced homocysteine ​​metabolism
  • Formation of red blood cells
  • normal heart function
  • promotes cell division and growth

There are many different manufacturers of dietary supplements with high or pure arginine on the market. Almost all package inserts indicate that arginine is a very important amino acid, as it forms nitric oxide and thereby has a positive effect on our immune and circulatory systems.

What do studies say about the effects of arginine?

There are numerous studies about arginine that either clearly prove or refute an effect of arginine. In some cases even both. Using a few examples, we want to show how studies deal with the topic of arginine, how the studies are carried out and what was researched:

  1. Some studies have shown that insufficient production of nitric oxide leads to increased blood pressure in both humans and animals. A review of various studies that have studied this issue found that oral L-arginine supplementation has been shown to lower blood pressure. An average of 5.39/2.66 millimeters on the mercury column (sphygmomanometer).(11)
  2. Basically, some studies have shown that arginine improves wound strength and collagen deposition in lacerations in rodents and humans. Nevertheless, arginine supplementation for wound healing is discussed by some scientists, since further clinical studies are needed to support this hypothesis and to prove the effect.(12)
  3. L-arginine has important antimycobacterial effects in humans. Based on this fact, a study was conducted examining the effect of arginine on tuberculosis in Indonesia. However, after no positive effects could be determined after supplementation (including placebos) in 200 study participants on the tuberculosis disease, this thesis was dropped.(13)
  4. In several controlled clinical studies, long-term administration of L-arginine has been shown to have positive effects on and improve cardiovascular disease. However, in other studies, arginine was not beneficial, and in a specific 2014 study, administration of arginine versus placebo resulted in increased mortality in study participants.(14)

The first example shows that many studies that support the same thesis or come to the same conclusions and few or no studies exist that claim the opposite, with a high degree of probability that they can and prove the positive effects of arginine.

The second example shows that a positive effect of arginine can only actually be proven if there are enough clinical studies to support these results. However, a good approach exists and there is a possibility that arginine could lead to the improvement of various diseases after further investigation.


There are many clinical studies on arginine. It is important to weigh up how serious these studies have been raised and how meaningful they are. (Image source: Ousa Chea/unsplash)

In the third example, one can see that studies that involve a large number of study participants can quickly disprove that arginine has no effect on diseases or conditions. Thus, one can be sure that arginine, as in the tuberculosis example, is of no help and is ineffective.

And then there are cases where some studies claim or even prove the effect of arginine and others prove exactly the opposite. In such cases, it is important to weigh up very carefully whether taking arginine is actually helpful or not. Here it depends above all on the individual circumstances of the disease or the arginine intake and cannot generally confirm the positive or negative effect of arginine.

Can side effects occur when taking arginine?

In the course of the research, no evidence was found that taking pure arginine can lead to negative side effects. Pure arginine is deliberately spoken of here, especially since it is supplied naturally through food.

If you are not sure how you react to such supplements, ask your doctor or a pharmacy to be sure.

However, when arginine is taken as a dietary supplement in the form of tablets or powder, it is usually mixed with binders or excipients such as hypromellose, carmine, silicon dioxide, talc or, for example, magnesium salts. In higher doses and depending on the individual tolerance of these substances, side effects may occur.

Therefore, it is always important that you inform yourself about how your arginine supplement is composed. All possible side effects are listed on the package leaflet.

How does citrulline increase the effects of arginine?

L-citrulline is the non-proteinogenic precursor of arginine. When supplementing with arginine alone, the enzyme arginase is upregulated. This leads to the premature degradation of arginine to the non-proteinogenic amino acid L-ornithine. As a result, additional arginine is no longer available for nitric oxide synthesis.

Added citrulline is also absorbed and converted to arginine in the liver. This leads to a prolonged increase in the concentration of arginine in the blood plasma and thus enhances the effect of arginine.(15)

When and for whom is it useful to take arginine?

In general, taking arginine makes sense for everyone, since nitrogen monoxide is synthesized from the amino acid and has important properties for the organism. But first and foremost, taking arginine would probably make sense for people with high blood pressure or heart failure.

A randomized study found that oral arginine significantly improved quality of life in people with chronic heart disease compared to placebo.(16)

The additional supplementation of arginine is also useful for people who train regularly in the gym. The arginine indirectly helps to build muscle and strengthens the fibers. However, the fact that arginine influences the increase in performance in athletes has not been claimed in any study and is not proven.

woman during training

Arginine certainly contributes to muscle strengthening and muscle building. It remains questionable whether this also applies to the energy balance and the increase in performance. (Image source: Sven Mieke/unsplash)

In principle, you always take arginine when you eat arginine-containing foods. You can take dietary supplements such as capsules or powder once a day or several times a week, depending on the recommended dose. If the arginine is to work during sports or exercise, then it is advisable to take it 30 minutes before the start of these activities.

What does lysine have to do with the effects of arginine?

Like L-arginine, lysine is a basic amino acid because it is also composed of six carbon atoms and a basic group. Lysine acts as an antagonist of arginine. Antagonists are active ingredients that bind to receptors and reverse pharmacological effects.(17) This means that lysine principally reverses or alleviates the effects of arginine.

Does Arginine Base or Arginine Hydrochloride Work Better?

Arginine base definitely works better than hydrochloride. This is because basic products contain almost 100 percent of the amino acid and the arginine is therefore absorbed in its pure form. In supplements with hydrochloride, however, arginine is bound to the salt of hydrochloric acid and therefore has a significantly lower arginine content. This is around 70-80 percent of the total.

What alternatives are there to arginine?

Unfortunately, since L-arginine is the only amino acid that can synthesize nitric oxide, you won't find any alternatives to arginine that can. However, you have the alternative of either taking arginine with arginine-containing food or taking dietary supplements in the form of capsules, tablets or powder.

According to the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the limit of 1000 milligrams per day should not be exceeded with a recommended consumption of two arginine capsules.(18)

You will now find out which foods contain arginine, the composition of arginine in supplements and the advantages and disadvantages of the individual types of intake.


There are a number of foods that contain natural arginine. The following table shows you the foods with the most arginine content:

Groceries Arginine content/100g
animal gelatin 6400 mg
soy products 5200-1100mg
Fish and sea creatures: cod, caviar, lobster, shrimp, lobster, crayfish, crab, various crustaceans, trout, halibut, pike, zander, cod, tuna, perch, sardines, carp, salmon, cod, sole, flounder, squid, Catfish, herring, eel, sprat 4500-1000mg
Kernels and seeds: pine nut, pumpkin seed, flaxseed, sesame, sunflower seed, poppy seed, pistachio 4500-1600mg
Nuts: peanut, almond, brazil nut, walnut, hazelnut, cashew nut 3200-1600mg
Meat: horse meat, venison, beef, deer, goat, turkey, pork, lamb, rabbit, goose, quail, pigeon, duck 2600-1100mg
mushroom 2500 mg
beans and legumes 2400-2200mg
Yeast 1700 mg
maggiweed 1400 mg

As you can clearly see in the table, animal gelatin, soy products and fish or seafood are the top sources of natural arginine.

  • Arginine in its pure form
  • Large Selection of Arginine Suppliers
  • connected without additional effort
  • no
  • capsules

    Athletes or individuals/patients with arginine deficiency often turn to dietary supplements to balance their arginine levels and associated nitric oxide conversion. The capsules are made of animal or vegetable gelatin and are swallowed with water or other beverages.

    • long durability
    • quick intake
  • Additives such as magnesium stearate
  • unsuitable for swallowing problems
  • tablets

    Arginine tablets are basically the same as arginine capsules, with the difference being that tablets are hard pressed and not administered in capsule form.

    • long durability
    • quick intake
  • Additives such as hydrochloride or magnesium salts
  • unsuitable for swallowing problems
  • small number of pieces in contrast to capsules
  • powder

    Last but not least, arginine is also available in powder form. The powder is dissolved in water and then drunk.

    • individual dosage
    • available in very large quantities, easy to take, little to no additives
  • consuming income
  • Conclusion

    There is no doubt that arginine lowers blood pressure and allows wounds to heal faster. The studies show that there is a high probability that arginine also strengthens muscle fibers and has a positive effect on the blood sugar level of type 2 diabetes patients.

    Arginine is often mentioned in connection with sports or training in the gym. The fact that the muscles are strengthened by arginine and is therefore often offered as a powder for training purposes is legitimate, as studies have shown. However, it could not be proven that the energy or increase in performance in athletes is immensely influenced.

    The effect of arginine cannot be denied when used correctly and in a targeted manner in many areas of health. It remains to be seen whether further studies related to arginine will come to light and new findings will come to light. Arginine-rich food and balanced supplementation definitely can't hurt.

    Individual proofs(18)

    1. Boeger RH. The pharmacodynamics of L-arginine. J Nutr. 2007 Jun;137(6 Suppl 2):1650S-1655S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.6.1650S. PMID: 17513442. Source
    2. Miller AL. The effects of sustained-release L-arginine formulation on blood pressure and vascular compliance in 29 healthy individuals. Altern Med Rev. 2006 Mar;11(1):23-9. PMID: 16597191. Source
    3. Clemmensen C, Smajilovic S, Smith EP, Woods SC, Bräuner-Osborne H, Seeley RJ, D'Alessio DA, Ryan KK. Oral L-arginine stimulates GLP-1 secretion to improve glucose tolerance in male mice. Endocrinology. 2013 Nov;154(11):3978-83. doi: 10.1210/en.2013-1529. Epub 2013 Aug 19. PMID: 23959939; PMCID: PMC3800753. Source
    4. Mori AM, Considine RV, Mattes RD. Acute and second-meal effects of almond form in impaired glucose-tolerant adults: a randomized crossover trial. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2011 Jan 28;8(1):6. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-8-6. PMID: 21276226; PMCID: PMC3042001. Source
    5. Zhang XJ, Chinkes DL, Wolfe RR. The anabolic effect of arginine on proteins in skin wound and muscle is independent of nitric oxide production. Clin Nutr. 2008 Aug;27(4):649-56. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2008.01.006. Epub 2008 Mar 7. PMID: 18316142. Source
    6. Bennacef-Heffar N, Laraba-Djebari F. Beneficial effects of heparin and larginine on dermonecrosis effect induced by Vipera lebetina venom: Involvement of NO in skin regeneration. Acta Trop. 2017 Jul;171:226-232. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2017.04.012. Epub 2017 Apr 17. PMID: 28427959. Source
    7. Kolderman E, Bettampadi D, Samarian D, Dowd SE, Foxman B, Jakubovics NS, Rickard AH. L-arginine destabilizes oral multi-species biofilm communities developed in human saliva. PLoS One. 2015 May 6;10(5):e0121835. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121835. PMID: 25946040; PMCID: PMC4422691. Source
    8. Silva T, Jesus M, Cagigal C, Silva C. Food with Influence in the Sexual and Reproductive Health. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2019;20(2):114-122. doi: 10.2174/1389201019666180925140400. PMID: 30255750. Source
    9. Chen X, Luo X, Chen D, Yu B, He J, Huang Z. Arginine promotes porcine type I muscle fibers formation through improvement of l biogenesis. Br J Nutr. 2020 Mar 14;123(5):499-507. doi: 10.1017/S000711451900309X. Epub 2019 Nov 29. PMID: 31779731. Source
    10. R Geiger, JC Rieckmann, T Wolf, C Basso, Y Feng, T Fuhrer, M Kogadeeva, P Picotti, F Meissner, M Mann, N Zamboni, F Sallusto, A Lanzavecchia. L-Arginine Modulates T Cell Metabolism and Enhances Survival and Anti-tumor Activity. 2016 October Source
    11. Khalaf D, Krüger M, Wehland M, Infanger M, Grimm D. The Effects of Oral l-Arginine and l-Citrulline Supplementation on Blood Pressure. nutrients. 2019 Jul 22;11(7):1679. doi: 10.3390/nu11071679. PMID: 31336573; PMCID: PMC6683098. Source
    12. Stechmiller JK, Childress B, Cowan L. Arginine supplementation and wound healing. Nutr Clin Pract. 2005 Feb;20(1):52-61. doi: 10.1177/011542650502000152. PMID: 16207646. Source
    13. Ralph AP, Waramori G, Pontororing GJ, Kenangalem E, Wiguna A, Tjitra E, Sandjaja, Lolong DB, Yeo TW, Chatfield MD, Soemanto RK, Bastian I, Lumb R, Maguire GP, Eisman J, Price RN, Morris PS, Kelly PM, Anstey NM. L-arginine and vitamin D adjunctive therapies in pulmonary tuberculosis: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One. 2013 Aug 14;8(8):e70032. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0070032. PMID: 23967066; PMCID: PMC3743888. Source
    14. Boeger RH. The pharmacodynamics of L-arginine. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 May-Jun;20(3):48-54. PMID: 24755570. Source
    15. Schwedhelm E, Maas R, Freese R, Jung D, Lukacs Z, Jambrecina A, Spicker W, Schulze F, Böger RH. Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties of oral L-citrulline and L-arginine: impact on nitric oxide metabolism. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Jan;65(1):51-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2007.02990.x. Epub 2007 Jul 27. PMID: 17662090; PMCID: PMC2291275. Source
    16. Fontanive P, Saponati G, Iurato A, Volterrani C, Boni A, Piccioni L, Dini FL; L-Arginine in Heart Failure Study Group. Effects of L-arginine on the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire quality-of-life score in patients with chronic systolic heart failure. Med Sci Monitor. 2009 Dec;15(12):CR606-11. PMID: 19946230. Source
    17. Chi CC, Wang SH, Delamere FM, Wojnarowska F, Peters MC, Kanjirath PP. Interventions for prevention of herpes simplex labialis (cold sores on the lips). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 7;2015(8):CD010095. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010095.pub2. PMID: 26252373; PMCID: PMC6461191. Source
    18. Fricke G. Dietary supplement with added L-arginine (BVL 13/01/005). 2013 May. 101-222-8140-3/2565. Source
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