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Is arginine safe? Benefits, side effects, and rich food options

arginine rich foods

Arginine, also known as L-arginine, is an amino acid that plays an essential role in the body’s biological functions. It’s been linked with numerous health benefits from treating cardiovascular disease to promoting healthy hair growth, but arginine also has some potential side effects and safety considerations.

Keep reading to learn more about the positive and negative effects of arginine, as well as rich food sources of arginine.

What is arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid that is needed to produce nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide helps regulate blood pressure as well as vascular function. This process occurs when arginine combines with oxygen to form nitric oxide.

However, like other amino acids, arginine can be used by the body for a number of different purposes and can have some side effects when taken in large doses.

The most common side effect is gastrointestinal upset or nausea. Some people may also experience headaches or dizziness.

Large doses of arginine are also not recommended for people with cardiovascular disease due to its effect on blood pressure.

It’s important to note that you don’t need high amounts of arginine in your diet in order to reap benefits from this supplement; rather, lower amounts (1-3 grams per day) will suffice.

What are the benefits of arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid that helps the body form muscle tissue. Although not necessary for survival, it’s considered an essential amino acid because your body can’t produce it on its own.

It also boosts the immune system as well as sexual performance in both men and women. The compound is found in most protein-rich foods like fish, soybeans, and dairy products.

The side effects of arginine include bloating and diarrhea. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t take arginine supplements unless you speak with a doctor first.

Some people may have trouble tolerating the supplement due to stomach pain, nausea, dizziness, or headaches. Before starting this supplement talk to your doctor about what dose to take and how often to use it.

What are the risks/side effects of arginine supplements?

Although arginine supplements are used to improve cardiovascular health by increasing the production of nitric oxide, there have been some concerns about potential side effects.

For example, it may cause gastrointestinal irritation or headaches. It can also interact with certain drugs such as nitroglycerin, which is used for heart disease.

However, research has shown that these side effects are rare and not serious in most cases when used at appropriate dosages.

Additionally, dietary sources should be considered first since they are a natural way to get this amino acid without any risks or side effects.

Foods rich in arginine include chia seeds, pistachios, spinach, almonds, oranges, avocados and bananas.

Are there any foods high in natural L-arginine content?

Fruits and vegetables are a great source of L-arginine. Citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruit have some of the highest levels.

Other options include cantaloupe, avocados, beetroot, broccoli and spinach. The L-arginine content in these is not as high but they do contain other nutrients that can benefit your health.

Protein rich foods also provide arginine, including fish, beans and poultry. Certain nuts can offer an arginine boost as well with almonds having an especially high amount of this amino acid per serving.

There is no recommended daily intake for L-arginine so you will want to eat more of these foods if you want to increase your intake.

Remember that there are many other benefits to eating a healthy diet besides boosting levels of arginine such as improving brain function, lowering blood pressure, and lowering cholesterol!

What is the recommended dose of arginine?

The dosage of arginine for people with high blood pressure is 1.5 grams per day or 2 grams three times a day.

The dosage for people who want to increase their muscle mass is 6-8 grams of arginine a day in divided doses throughout the day.

It’s recommended that you take it on an empty stomach and wait at least one hour before consuming any food so that you don’t interfere with its absorption.

There are some side effects of taking arginine supplement including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and shortness of breath.

Some possible drug interactions are not known yet but research will continue as more people take this supplement as a dietary supplement.

Why do we need arginine?

Arginine is an amino acid that plays an important role in the body. It helps to regulate blood pressure and fight inflammation by boosting nitric oxide levels.

Arginine is also essential for wound healing, growth and repair of muscles, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage and bone.

People with atherosclerosis should be mindful of their arginine intake because it can contribute to plaque formation in the arteries.

High doses of arginine might increase the risk for prostate cancer. However, this risk increases only when combined with high-fat diets or obesity which are not recommended anyway.

There have been reports that prolonged intake of arginine might reduce insulin sensitivity so it’s better not to take this supplement long-term if you have diabetes.

Is arginine supplementation safe?

Arginine is an amino acid that plays a role in the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a molecule that has vasodilatory effects, which means it can relax smooth muscle tissue in the body.

This makes it a popular supplement for those looking to treat erectile dysfunction or those who want to improve blood flow to the genitals. It also works as an anti-inflammatory agent and improves athletic performance.

However, there are some side effects associated with arginine supplementation, so be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any supplements.

There are also many rich food options that have high levels of arginine if you don’t want to take a supplement.

These include: nuts like cashews, peanuts, almonds; certain seeds such as sesame seeds and sunflower seeds; lentils; fruits like oranges; wheat germ; seafood like tuna and shrimp.


Arginine is an amino acid that can be found in many food sources such as eggplant, nuts, lima beans, soybeans, turkey breast. It can also be found in supplements like L-arginine. This supplement has been known to help people with certain medical conditions such as heart disease or high blood pressure. It has also been known to lower cholesterol levels.

There are some side effects to this amino acid, however they are not common. Possible side effects include diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. Individuals who have liver problems may want to stay away from arginine supplements. If you do take a supplement make sure it does not contain any other drugs or stimulants because the two together could lead to serious health problems.

One of the most well known benefits of arginine is its ability to improve athletic performance and recovery time for athletes, especially those who compete in endurance sports such as cycling or running. Another benefit is its ability to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) caused by diabetes, medication use, alcoholism or aging.

Related Articles:


  1. I. Arginine; H Tapiero, G Mathé, P Couvreur, K.D Tew; Dossier: Free amino acids in human health and pathologies.
  2. Arginine: beyond protein; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 83, Issue 2, February 2006, Pages 508S–512S
  3. Arginine and Immunity; Petar J. Popovic, Herbert J. Zeh, III, Juan B. Ochoa; The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 137, Issue 6, June 2007, Pages 1681S–1686S.
  4. Arginine metabolism: nitric oxide and beyond; Guoyao WU; Sidney M. MORRIS; Biochem J (1998) 336 (1): 1–17.
  5. Arginine and Cancer; D. Scott Lind; The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 134, Issue 10, October 2004, Pages 2837S–2841S.
  6. Is arginine a protein-denaturant?; Matsujiro Ishibashi, Kouhei Tsumoto, Masao Tokunaga; Volume 42, Issue 1, July 2005, Pages 1-6.
  7. L-Arginine and Hypertension; Noyan Gokce; The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 134, Issue 10, October 2004, Pages 2807S–2811S.

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