Arginine: What is it? Where to get it? Functions and Uses

It is one of the 20 amino acids that you get from proteins in your diet. Generally, it is considered a semi-essential amino acid.

If you have a well-balanced diet, you probably do not need to take arginine supplements. But if you have certain health conditions, your doctor may recommend adding them to your routine.

In other cases, your doctor may encourage you to avoid them. For some people, taking arginine supplements can actually increase the risk of health problems.

Arginine is an amino acid that your body uses to synthesize nitric oxide. If you have a well-balanced diet, you probably get enough arginine from the foods you eat. But if you have a history of certain health conditions, your doctor may recommend taking arginine supplements.

In other cases, they can encourage you to avoid them. Taking arginine supplements can worsen some health problems.

Always talk to your doctor before adding arginine supplements to your routine.

Where can you get arginine?

Arginine is found in several different food products, which include:

  • Red meat.
  • Poultry.
  • Fish.
  • Milk.
  • Seeds.
  • Nuts
  • Beans.
  • Leaf vegetables.
  • Some fruits (pumpkin seeds, peanuts and soybeans are rich sources of arginine).

Most people can get enough arginine from a well-balanced diet. But arginine supplements are also available in the form of oral tablets or injections.

Always consult your doctor before trying any new supplement, including supplemental arginine. They can help you evaluate the possible benefits and risks to health.


Your body uses arginine to synthesize nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels relax and expand. This is important to regulate blood flow.

Your doctor may recommend eating foods rich in arginine or taking arginine supplements if you have certain conditions that affect the blood vessels and the heart.

For example, they recommend taking arginine supplements to help treat coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease or erectile dysfunction .

In other cases, arginine supplements can increase your risk of heart problems.

Arginine supplements may have benefits for people with certain cardiovascular conditions. For example, they can help treat:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Clogged arteries.
  • Angina.

Arginine supplements may also have benefits for people with peripheral vascular disease (PVD). This condition develops when the arteries narrow and reduce the flow of blood to your extremities.

Most people with PVD develop it in their legs.

Be warned that taking arginine supplements after a heart attack can make things worse. In fact, they increase the risk of dying after a heart attack .

More research is needed to evaluate the benefits and risks. Until possible safety issues have been addressed, avoid taking arginine supplements after a heart attack.

If you have a history of heart disease, ask your doctor about the possible benefits and risks of arginine supplements. Depending on your health history, they can encourage you to take them or avoid them.

Many cases of erectile dysfunction can be related to heart disease. Problems with your blood vessels can reduce the flow of blood to your penis. This can hinder the development and maintenance of an erection.

Other research suggests that arginine supplements can help improve blood flow through your body. Because of these supposed benefits, doctors sometimes prescribe arginine supplements to treat erectile dysfunction.

Other uses

Recent studies suggest that arginine supplements may also have other benefits.

Arginine supplements can have positive effects on your immune system. Some doctors prescribe them along with other treatments to help:

  • Fight against infections.
  • Promote the healing of wounds.
  • Support postoperative recovery.
  • Complementary chemotherapy.