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Updated November 12, 2013

L-arginine is a semi-essential amino acid, which means that your body is able to make a sufficient amount of arginine in order to survive. However, some conditions may require a arginine supplement, and may be acquired through diet or by taking a pill. Recent research has investigated the role of arginine in the treatment of high cholesterol levels, however, more research needs to be performed in order to determine the effectiveness of arginine.

What is L-arginine used for?
L-arginine has been used as a supplement in individuals who have high cholesterol levels. Previous research has also indicated its use in cardiovascular disease, enhanced immunity, sexual enhancement, and enhanced wound healing.

Where is L-arginine normally found?
There is enough arginine made by your body, so supplementation is not generally required. It is also found in a variety of foods, including dairy products, poultry and pork products, soybeans, chocolate, seafood, nuts, and chick peas.

How does L-arginine lower my cholesterol levels?
Although the exact mechanism is not known, studies involving healthy volunteers found that arginine lowered low density lipoprotein levels (bad cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels. Arginine may also influence high density lipoprotein levels (good cholesterol), but the results from this have been conflicting.

How much do I take to lower my cholesterol levels?
Currently, a recommended dietary allowance has not been established for L-arginine, however, doses tend to average between 3 and 6 grams a day.

How do I know if I am deficient in arginine?
An arginine deficiency is rare, since your body makes the arginine it needs. The symptoms of an arginine deficiency include poor wound healing, skin rash, fatty liver, hair loss, and constipation. If you have any of these symptoms, please consult your health care practitioner, since these symptoms could be also be due to the symptoms of another condition.

Who should not take arginine?
· Individuals who are taking nitroglycerin, sildenafil, tadalafil, or vardenafil. These medications and arginine dilate blood vessels.
· Individuals with herpes simplex need to consult with their health care practitioner concerning arginine supplementation, since arginine may cause the virus to grow.
· Pregnant or nursing mothers.
· If you have an underlying condition, or on other medications, be sure to consult with a pharmacist or your health care practitioner before you begin to take arginine.

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