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Arginine

Other name(s):

a-amino-d-guanidino-n-valeric acid

Unsubstantiated claims

There may be benefits that have not yet been proven through research.

Arginine is an essential amino acid. It is found in plant and animal proteins. There are some claims that it improves male infertility and erectile dysfunction.

Arginine may: 

  • Increase collagen in connective tissue, which is in every organ in the body

  • Improve some types of anemia

  • Be a vasodilator

  • Help treat angina

  • Help treat high blood pressure

Recommended intake

Amino acids (AAs) are available as single AAs or in AA combinations. They also come as part of multi-vitamins, proteins, and food supplements. The forms include tablets, fluids, and powders.

By eating enough protein in your diet, you get all of the amino acids you need.

There are no conditions that increase the need for arginine. But newborns have higher needs than adults.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

Using a single amino acid supplement may lead to negative nitrogen balance. This can lessen how well your metabolism works. It can make your kidneys work harder. In children, single amino acid supplements may cause growth problems.

You should not take high doses of single amino acids for long periods of time without talking with your healthcare provider.

If you have diabetes, liver or kidney problems, or an electrolyte imbalance, talk to your healthcare provider before using arginine. It may cause high potassium levels in your blood. This can be life-threatening.

These people should not use arginine:

  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • Children and teens

  • People with an active herpes infection

  • People who have had a recent heart attack

You should not use arginine if you take any of these medicines:

  • Nitrates

  • Isoproterenol

  • Diuretics

  • Medicine for diabetes

  • Anti-hypertensive medicine

  • Anti-coagulant

Online Medical Reviewer: Diane Horowitz MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2019
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