Arginine: protective amino acid


Arginine is a protective amino acid for several reasons:

Role on energetics because arginine:

  • Arginine: protective amino acidIs the precursor of creatine, energy support, because once phosphorylated thanks to magnesium in the form of creatine phosphate, it is able to restore bonds rich in energy / ATP during an intense effort
  • If AMP is not recharged, it is catabolized into uric acid, which is excreted in the urine. Creatine phosphate, like a small plane that comes in flight to recharge the tanks of a large aircraft, restores the phosphate bonds of ATP in an emergency.
  • This goes back up the energy-rich phosphate bonds from AMP to ADP and from ADP to ATP, and allows you to continue the effort => creatine is the most used sports supplement
  • Precursor of a signal that will stimulate the proliferation of mitochondria (energy production plants),
  • Precursor of agmatine (a metabolite of arginine) which protects the mitochondria

Arginine is also a precursor of NO ° (nitric oxide) which is the main physiological vasodilator, activator of the microcirculation, anti-hypertensive, cardioprotector (principle of Trinitrin), protector of the brain, stimulating penile circulation (effect “Viagra “).

Arginine has shown cardioprotective properties:

  • Antioxidants
  • Reducing endothelin 1
  • Protectors of endothelial function
  • Vasodilators
  • Antihypertensives
  • Anti apoptotics (able to reduce infected areas)
  • anti-ischemic.

Roles on weight and fats:

  • An inhibitor of saturated fat absorption (as opposed to lysine), it is the lysine / arginine ratio that determines fat absorption (highest in dairy products designed to boost rapid growth in infants and lowest in oilseeds, which, therefore, despite their high calorie content do not make you fat and improve the lipid profile);
  • Helps fight against overweight, metabolic syndrome and their consequences amplified by stress;
  • Anabolic for muscle mass via polyamines, cell growth factors. (spermine, spermidine and putrescine)

Can therefore be used in sarcopenia, for example in the elderly who loses muscle mass with glutamine and zinc.

Synergistic effect of polyamines on muscle mass and the multiplication of mitochondria.

Elisabet Borsheim et al, Effect of Amino Acid Supplementation on Muscle Mass, Strength and Physical Function in Elderly, Clin Nutr, 2008; 27 (2): 189-195

On the other hand, arginine, like ornithine, is therefore contraindicated in cancers.

Contributes to the gain of bone mass => promotes osteogenesis and osteocalcins and stimulates trophic circulation in the bone via muscle tension.

Adjuvantanxiolytic and inhibitor of the second stress messenger; cortisol (cortisol is immunosuppressive, depressant, leads to adrenal exhaustion and contributes to the destruction of hippocampal neurons, thus accelerating cognitive decline), in synergy with magnesium: arginine is the brake on cortisol (2 th messenger stress) and Mg inhibits noradrenaline (1 st messenger stress).

In addition, arginine is used in pharmacological doses in

  • hypertension (precursor of NO °), at pharmacological doses of 5 g / d
  • angina
  • arteritis and other forms of atherosclerosis
  • penile circulatory failure and erectile dysfunction
  • oligo-asthenospermia
  • immune depression (but cannot be used in sepsis, septic shock). Because arginine will increase the NO ° and cause vasodilation of the digestive tract which will increase the passage of endotoxins from the digestive tract into the blood and risk causing septic shock.

It is prudent, even apart from sepsis, to restore digestive permeability before giving arginine.

Arginine is also nephroprotective because it stimulates NO ° which is collapsed in renal failure.


Oilseeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, squash seeds.


  • HTA: 5 to 10 g / day (pharmacological dose), to promote NO ° with magnesium (Magdyn from 2 to 3 sachets / day)
  • Angina (precursor of NO °),: 1 to 5 g / d
  • Infarction: with magnesium (Magdyn 1 sachet three times a day) and coenzyme Q10 from 600 to 1200 mg / d
  • Arteritis: 5 g twice a day
  • Hypercholesterolemia / hypertriqlyceridemia: inhibitor of absorption of saturated fat
  • Muscle reconstruction: with exercise program, magnesium, zinc, 200 – 250 mg / kg


  • Cancers because we can give promoters of cell proliferation (precursor of polyamines)
  • Herpes
  • Septic shock, sepsis
  • Pyelonephritis (upper urinary tract infection, often a complication of untreated cystitis, situation associated with bacteremia and a high risk of septicemia)

PRECAUTIONS FOR USE: digestive permeability, dysbiosis

To know more :

Arginine and energy:

  • Âlvares TS, Meirelles CM, Bhambhani YN, Paschoalin VM, Gomes PS, L- Arginine as a potential ergogenic aid in healthy subjects, Sports Med. 2011,41 (3): 233-48.
  • Paddon-Jones D, Borsheim E, Wolfe, Potential ergogenic effects of arginine and creatine supplementation, J Nutr. 2004; 134 (10 Suppl): 2888S-2894S.
  • Nisoli E, Cozzi V, Carruba MO. Amino Acids and Mitochondrial Biogenesis, Am J 2008; 101: E22-E25.
  • Arndt Mary Ann et al, The arginine metabolite agmatine protects mitochondrial function and confers resistance to cellular apoptosis, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2009 June; 296 (6): C1411-9

Arginine and anxiety:

  • Jezova D, Makatsori A, Smriga M, Morinaga Y, Duncko R. Subchronic treatment with amino acid mixture of L-lysine and L-arginine modifies neuroendocrine activation during psychosocial stress in subjects with high trait anxiety. Nutr Neurosci. 2005; 8: 155-160.
  • Smriga M, Ando T, Akutsu M, Furukawa Y, Miwa K, Morinaga Y. Oral treatment with L-lysine and L-arginine reduces anxiety and basal cortisol levels in healthy humans. Biomed Res. 2007; 28: 85-90

Arginine and the cardiovascular system:

  • Cylwik D, Mogielnicki A, Buczko W, L-arginine and cardiovascular system, Pharmacol Rep. 2005; 57 (1): 14-22.
  • Gokce N, L-arginine and hypertension, J Nutr. 2004; 134 (10 Suppl): 2807S-281 IS.
  • Lerman A, et al, Long-term L-arginine supplementation improves small-vessel coronary endothelial function in humans, Circulation. 1998; 97 (21): 2123-8

Arginine and protection against the effects of corticosteroids:

  • Pennisi P et al, Supplementation of L-arginine prevents glucocorticoid-induced reduction of bone growth and bone turnover abnormalities in a growing rat model, J Bone Miner Metab. 2005; 23 (2): 134-9.

Author Jean-Paul Curtay

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