Arginine Supplement Review

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  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Vascular (blood vessel) function
+1 (Slight Evidence)


  • Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid found in high protein foods such as dairy, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and chocolate.
  • Arginine appears to reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension by increasing the amount of nitrous oxide in blood vessels. Nitrous oxide relaxes blood vessel walls, which lowers blood pressure.
  • Arginine may be useful in the treatment of erectile dysfunction by dilating blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the penis.
  • Arginine may also aid wound healing, improve immune function, and lower cholesterol. We await the results of future trials.
  • Severe stress, such as from burns, infections, and injuries, can deplete the body's supply of arginine.
  • Arginine appears safe and well tolerated at levels up to 20 gram per day. Be cautious if you have low blood pressure, take blood pressure medication, have low blood sugars, are pregnant or potentially pregnant, or have a herpes infection.


  • Arginine taken shortly after having a heart attack may increase mortality.
  • Arginine taken during a herpes outbreak may worsen the infection.
  • Arginine must be used with caution in people with kidney disease, or on medication that affects potassium levels, such as ACE inhibitors or spironolactone.
  • Arginine may worsen leg pain associated with peripheral vascular disease.
  • Arginine doses should not exceed 20 mg daily.
  • Arginine may cause headaches at high altitudes.
  • Side effects may include worsening of reflux and peptic ulcer disease.

Arginine should be used with caution in patients on medication for diabetes since it can further lower blood pressure and blood sugar.

DOSAGE: A typical dosage for arginine as a supplement ranges between 2 to 8 g and no more than 20 g per day.

CONCLUSION:We conclude that while arginine shows promise for improving vascular function, there is not enough evidence for us to recommend its use for this indication. If you do elect to try it, please discuss your decision with your doctor, and observe carefully for any changes in your health.

“Arginine (L-Arginine).” LLC, 2013. 30 August 2011.
“Arginine.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“L-Arginine.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
Vadillo-Ortega, F. et al. Effect of supplementation during pregnancy with L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins in medical food on pre-eclampsia in high risk population: randomized controlled trial. BMJ (2011) 342, 1-8

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