Arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid that is critical for your cardiovascular health and detoxification functions. The amino acid, arginine, is used to make the powerful blood vessel regulator, nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts to lower blood pressure.
Too little arginine can lead to high blood pressure.
Too much arginine can lead to increased aging from oxidative damage. Arginine is measured in blood and markers of arginine insufficiency are measured in urine.
High citrate, isocitrate, cis-Aconitate, or orotate can indicate arginine insufficiency. The essential amino acid lysine needs to be present in amounts balanced with arginine to ensure healthy immune system function.
Arginine is vital for the body’s processing of nitrogen and is a precursor to nitric oxide via the urea cycle. Nitric oxide is critical for relaxation of the endothelium, a layer of cells that lines the inside of blood vessels. Arginine deficiencies, therefore, have wide-ranging effects on the cardiovascular system. Low arginine may indicate too much lysine or histidine supplementation competing for absorption, or consumption of too many lysine-containing foods, including meat and dairy products. Low arginine is also associated with elevated ammonia.
Subnormal arginine often is consistent with muscle weakness, fatigue and is occasionally coincident with chronic infections. Arginine is found in all protein foods and is very abundant in seeds and nuts.
High levels are often associated with a functional block in the urea cycle. Manganese activates an arginase enzyme, so supplementing with manganese may help.
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