L-arginine is a non-essential amino acid that helps to build strong bones and muscles, as well as help to decrease overall systemic inflammation (1).
L-arginine is also important for growth in infants and young children. In adults, it becomes a semi-essential amino acid. That means it’s necessary for healing from certain kinds of trauma like burn injuries and it’s useful for other bodily functions (2).
L-arginine, in particular, works as an antioxidant, fighting nitric oxide levels in the body and therefore decreasing inflammation (3).
1. L-Arginine PURE
Delivered in capsules that are considered all-natural, L-Arginine PURE provides 700 mg of L-arginine in each serving. It is primarily delivered in the alpha-ketoglutarate form, but also includes various amounts of L-arginine HCL, free L-arginine, and L-arginine L-pyroglutamate making it the only available choice with 4 various forms of L-arginine in one product.
Each form is absorbed through different pathways within the body allowing for the possibility of better absorption and efficacy. In addition to the complex formula for this supplement, it is also free of ingredients that would be deemed unnecessary or bloated. Each capsule is made with no preservatives, additives, fillers, or binders that do not enhance the performance of this supplement. For these reasons, it’s our #1 pick.
2. Roam Nitric Oxide
This L-arginine supplement includes both the HCL form as well as the alpha-ketoglutarate form for enhanced performance and absorption. Alongside the massive formulation of L-arginine, this supplement also provides 200 mg of L-citrulline malate to further increase the efficacy
Roam comes with a very clean formulation. There are no extraneous or unnecessary ingredients provided with this supplement. Promoting an all-natural product, this supplement is by far one of the best bargains available on the supplement market for those in need of L-arginine.
3. Sheer Strength Sheer NO
At 1100 mg per serving, the L-arginine provided with Sheer Strength is very hard to beat. Alongside its L-arginine ingredients, however, Sheer Strength also includes L-citrulline and pine bark extract to complete a full nitric oxide solution. Both of these have also been known to increase bioavailability and absorption when used.
Although not as pure as some other options, this is a great choice for those looking for a holistic approach to L-arginine supplementation.
4. Havasu Nutrition L-Arginine
Havasu Nutrition’s L-arginine supplement not only provides an adequate dose at 400 mg per capsule but also divides its formulation between L-arginine HCL and L-arginine alpha-ketoglutarate. Additionally, this formulation brings with it an amino acid, L-citrulline. This has also been known to assist in the production of nitric oxide making this a complex and efficient supplement choice.
While it is not the most targeted supplement for those who may prefer to focus on L-arginine alone, this is still more than sufficient for those who want to maximize their blood flow and performance.
5. BulkSupplements L-Arginine Base Powder
Rather than being a normal L-arginine supplement, Bulk Supplements provides an HCL base which makes it ideal for those who may want to use it in a smoothie or shake throughout the day. As with most BulkSupplements products, there are no additional ingredients present so it is ideal for purists.
The only minor drawback is the need for a milligram-accurate scale if you go with this option. This may put you out a bit of money but would be well worth a try.
6. Nutra Champs L-Arginine
Nutra Champs nitric oxide supplement offers L-arginine in conjunction with L-citrulline to enhance bioavailability and provide a complete supplementation solution. In addition to the 500mg of L-arginine, there is also a solid dose of grape seed extract and ginger root to increase absorption and efficacy.
This formulation also provides one of the lightest ingredients lists found within our rankings. Aside from the necessary additions, there are no binders, fillers, or preservatives to be concerned with and has the bonus of being vegan-friendly.
7. Jarrow Formulas L-Arginine
Those looking for a supplement that comes with an HCL base with no extras will be pleased with this supplement choice.
This L-arginine product not only comes with L-arginine as its sole focus but does so in a way that is suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Additionally, this formulation comes with none of the common allergens often found in other supplements. This supplement is both simple and effective making it a great introductory product.
8. NOW Double Strength L-Arginine
NOW has been well-known for supplements that are of good quality while providing an effective supplementation experience. Their L-arginine follows this formula perfectly.
Though there a few binders that may not work well for purists, this will still be an effective choice for those looking for a reliable L-arginine supplement.
9. L-Arginine Pro
Though this supplement powder does have its limits, it is still a solid and reliable choice. In addition to the very high-dose of L-arginine, this supplement also provides vitamins C, D, K, and B respectively.
Those looking for a multi-purpose L-arginine supplement will want to consider this particular product.
10. Nutricost L-Arginine
While Nutricost has an L-arginine supplement that only comes in one form, the dosage is effective at 500 mg per serving and its ingredient list is fairly sparse. A gluten-free and non-GMO product base makes this supplement a very simple solution to your supplementation needs.
While it’s far from perfect, there is still a high rate of success for those who choose this supplement option.
How We Rank
L-Arginine supplements are largely differentiated by efficacy and dosage. With this in mind, we started our rankings by evaluating supplements that were comprised solely of L-Arginine as well as nitric oxide supplements that featured L-arginine. While there are many pure L-arginine supplements available, it was important for our list to make sure we evaluated the best options across both spectrums.
For products formulated with pure arginine, we placed a high priority on purity. Supplements that contained any additional binders, ingredients, or bulking agents received lower ratings, like NOW Double Strength. Conversely, arginine supplements that contained ingredients known to strengthen the pathways between the body and arginine efficacy were given preferential placement in our rankings.
For nitric oxide supplements that contained L-arginine, we focused on a design that was both clean and focused. We placed a higher emphasis on N.O. products that used L-arginine and provided a dosage that fell within the recommended dosage limits. This is why you’ll see products like Roam and Sheer Strength ranked so highly. Any products that compromised the L-arginine dosage level were left from our list.
Between the two options, ultimately we ended up preferring the pure L-arginine supplements, which is why L-arginine PURE was ranked number 1.
The ingredient list for these options also became a key area of focus during our evaluation. We required those ingredients provided alongside L-arginine to be backed by scientific research and evidence to prove and support their efficacy. If there was no scientific proof to back their usage, the supplement was subsequently eliminated from consideration.
After all this, we determined the top 10 best l-arginine supplements on the market.
1. L-arginine helps fight aging and maintain muscle mass in the elderly, decreasing the risk of serious injuries like fractures, falls and even death. Building protein is incredibly important not just if you’re an athlete or someone who exercises regularly, but also if you’re a normal person, and especially as you start to age, no matter what your workout schedule. As people age, muscles get smaller and bones lose some of their previous strength, becoming more prone to injury (4).
This is partly responsible for why older people feel weaker, lose mobility, and tend to fall down more easily. After the fourth decade of life, skeletal muscle mass steadily decreases, leading to an increased risk of osteoporosis, fractures and even death in extreme circumstances (5).
Supplementing with L-arginine could help fight such negative outcomes. A 2008 study showed that supplementing a normal diet with amino acids (in this case, L-arginine and a group of essential amino acids) improved lean body mass, strength, and physical ability in elderly patients (6).
Furthermore, while L-arginine is commonly used as an exercise supplement for younger individuals and athletes, it’s been shown to positively affect exercise performance in the elderly as well (7).
In one randomized controlled trial, arginine supplementation increased the anaerobic threshold in the elderly (between the ages of 50 and 73) male cyclists. Such increased performance may be due to L-arginine’s antioxidant/anti-inflammatory effects.
2. L-arginine is an antioxidant that can help fight systemic inflammation. As an anti-inflammatory agent, L-arginine can be used as a supplement to combat myriad chronic diseases. This is especially true for gastrointestinal diseases and other gut conditions.
In one 2008 study, L-arginine decreased inflammation and increased muscle regeneration for patients suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a lethal disorder characterized by muscle inflammation and the degeneration of skeletal muscle (8).
Furthermore, L-arginine’s most salient anti-inflammatory effects can be seen in the way it helps the digestive system. Oral supplementation of L-arginine has been shown to decrease intestinal inflammation from diseases like malaria (9).
While it can be dangerous in high doses, arginine supplements at low or normal doses can improve gut function and fight sepsis (10).
Animal trials also show that L-arginine may be a promising avenue for future inflammation treatments. In rats who were at risk for chronic renal failure, L-arginine supplements increased kidney function and decreased levels of inflammatory cytokines, which are a type of molecule that causes inflammation (11).
When combined with a supplement of several antioxidants, L-arginine was very effective in normalizing kidney function, blood pressure and levels of inflammation.
3. L-arginine has been shown to positively affect cardiovascular health. Another area in which L-arginine can significantly affect outcomes is cardiovascular disease. In one 2014 study, which took place in Iran, consistent L-arginine supplementation reduced risk factors such as fasting blood sugar and lipid blood profile significantly when compared to the placebo group (12).
Dietary intake of plant-based L-arginine has also been negatively correlated with the incidence of coronary heart disease (13).
While it’s still slightly controversial and merits further research, there are clear benefits associated with L-arginine supplementation in terms of cardiovascular health. L-arginine can help make blood vessels more pliable and less prone to blockage or constriction (14).
4. L-arginine can lower high blood pressure. In an umbrella review of seven separate meta-analyses of L-arginine’s effect on the human body, evidence from every study pointed towards significant benefits in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (15).
This is due to the vasodilation effects of L-arginine.
Other studies have even theorized that the anti-hypertension benefits of certain diets are due in large part to the presence of arginine more than any other factor (16).
However, the results are not 100% conclusive. Some studies show huge benefits as a result of L-arginine supplementation and others show almost no effect at all. That said, numerous reviews show high blood pressure can be managed with proper arginine supplementation (17).
Overall, L-arginine is one of the most promising supplements for combating high blood pressure.
5. L-arginine can boost your workout performance if you’re an athlete. As an amino acid, L-arginine helps you build the proteins that make up your muscles. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that supplementation increases workout performance. A 2007 study showed that L-arginine supplementation changes your metabolism, making you more sensitive to insulin and increasing capillary growth in muscles (18).
One double-blind, randomized trial found that L-arginine supplements increased performance among 56 male soccer players, in comparison with a placebo control group. BMI, body fat mass and lean body mass weren’t affected (19).
In other words, arginine helped athletes play better without seriously affecting or changing their body composition.
In another 2014 study, published in Biology of Sport, L-arginine supplements helped male wrestlers perform better. However, researchers didn’t record any noticeable difference in the athletes’ heart rates or plasma lactate levels (20).
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly why L-arginine is an effective workout supplement, but for the meantime, it’s known to increase performance significantly compared to a placebo.
6. L-arginine may be able to help prevent infections and speed up recovery. L-arginine has been linked not just to anti-inflammatory effects, but also to T-cell activation. T-cells are essentially the immune system’s worker bees; they help you fight off infections and stay healthy (21).
It’s theorized that arginine can act as an immune system booster, lowering the chances of infection or complication from chronic diseases. A meta-analysis of 11 trials and 321 patients, from 1966 to 2013, showed that L-arginine supplementation increased T-cell proliferation and decreased the rate of infection (22).
L-arginine’s immune-boosting capabilities may even extend to cancer treatment. Cancer immunotherapy is centered around getting your own immune system to recognize cancerous tumors as something to be destroyed rather than a natural part of your body. A 2018 study showed that arginine is critical to activating the T-cells that either recognize cancer as hostile or don’t (23).
In another study, supplementation stopped tumor growth in mice with breast cancer and prolonged their survival (24).
7. L-arginine has even been touted as a possible treatment for erectile dysfunction. When administered in combination with pycnogenol, L-arginine helped men who suffered from regular erectile dysfunction achieve normal erections (25).
On its own, it also helped 5% of participants achieve a normal erection. On the other hand, a different study didn’t show any increase in achieving erection compared to placebo (26).
One meta-analysis argued that while positive evidence is available, L-arginine has yet to be studied with a large sample size and higher levels of standardization (27).
8. L-arginine may help treat fertility issues in women. Women who have issues with fertility may also benefit from L-arginine supplementation. After five months of supplementation with L-arginine, 33% of women (compared to 0% in a placebo group) became pregnant (28).
9. L-arginine can help modulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In both human and animal trials, arginine supplements have helped improve kidney function and increase insulin sensitivity. When administered to type II diabetic rats, L-arginine improved glucose tolerance and preserved renal function (29).
While it didn’t totally cure diabetes, it did relieve the symptoms and even tackle the root cause (insulin resistance).
Another 3-month long, double-blind human study found that long-term L-arginine supplementation significantly improved peripheral and hepatic insulin sensitivity in patients with type II diabetes, though it wasn’t able to completely overcome their deficit (30).
10. L-arginine supplementation may help treat mental health conditions. Many scientists have reported increased levels of arginine and other amino acids in the blood samples of patients with schizophrenia (31).
Other studies have reported a direct link between bipolar disorder and arginine’s role in the body (32).
In another focused study, the frontal cortexes of individuals with schizophrenia were analyzed in comparison to a control group and abnormal arginine metabolism was found (33).
It’s not entirely clear what role arginine has in causing or in fighting the onset of schizophrenia and other mental health issues, but it certainly plays a part. According to this study, future schizophrenia treatments could potentially be based on altering arginine levels in the brain.
1. L-arginine may cause blood pressure changes As stated above, L-arginine lowers blood pressure. For patients who suffer from hypertension, this is a good thing, but any change in blood pressure should be carefully monitored. If you don’t already suffer from high blood pressure, supplementing with L-arginine could unexpectedly lower your blood pressure.
That might also lead to other blood-associated abnormalities, like bleeding. This is especially true if you’re already taking any other blood-pressure drugs or blood thinners. If you’re not sure whether L-arginine would be dangerous for you, ask your physician before you start supplementing.
2. L-arginine could change your blood glucose levels. The same mechanism that makes L-arginine a possible diabetes treatment, increased insulin sensitivity, could lead to unforeseen side effects if it rapidly changes the amount of sugar in your blood (34).
3. L-arginine can raise potassium levels. When administered to patients who suffered from kidney disease, L-arginine dramatically raised potassium levels in the kidney and liver. Potential users who suffer from kidney disease should consult a doctor before starting L-arginine supplementation.
4. L-arginine can cause IBS like symptoms in certain individuals such as abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea.
5. L-arginine may be safe for pregnant women. L-arginine appears to be safe for pregnant women and even children, although there’s not much research on the effects within these populations so it’s best to stick to a low dose or act your doctor.
6. L-Arginine may cause gout. Though it is not a common ailment, gout is a possible condition that may occur when using L-Arginine supplementation. There are many reasons one may get gout, however, L-Arginine’s usage risk is due to very specific reasons.
Gout is a condition that causes both pain and inflammation within the joints of the human body. Very similar to arthritis, this condition mostly affects the large toe but is known to occur. Gout attacks may occur as a result of poor diet in some cases, however, constant use of L-Arginine has demonstrated the possibility of contributing to a gout attack as well.
As an amino acid, L-Arginine may be beneficial for many health conditions, however, high levels of L-Arginine could prove detrimental during the digestive process. During metabolism, the human body converts L-Arginine to urea. This is the precursor to uric acid, which promotes the formation of crystal and joints involved in a gout attack (35).
While this is a side effect some people may experience, the possibility is extremely low. If you have concerns, it is always best to consult a trained physician to evaluate your risk of gout while using L-Arginine supplements.
Because arginine can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, from erectile dysfunction to cardiovascular disease, there is also a wide range of recommended dosages. Doses between 5-20g per day are probably the best combination of both effective and safe, as that’s also the most commonly-studied range (35).
As with any supplement, it’s best to start a new regimen slowly, taking only a couple of grams per day at the most. A good rule is to monitor your body for at least one or two weeks, looking for any abnormal changes, before starting to slowly increase your dose. If you’re worried about how much L-arginine to take, ask your physician.
Where does L-arginine come from? L-arginine can be found in dietary staples that contain protein. Think dairy, red meat, poultry products like chicken, etc. In most normal diets, excluding malnutrition or other dietary conditions, L-arginine is commonly found and easy to get.
Does your body make L-arginine on its own? As an adult, your body manufactures its own store of L-arginine (as well as receiving it from your diet). In children, however, arginine is especially important for growth, so a correct diet/amount of arginine intake is more important.
Can you get L-arginine from your diet alone? Yes. As long as you’re eating a diet that contains some kind of protein (like red meat, chicken or dairy), you’re more than likely getting enough arginine, as your body also produces it on its own. Arginine deficiencies are quite uncommon. Supplementation isn’t so much for the purpose of treating an arginine deficiency as for getting the benefits that come with an increased amount of arginine in the body.
What’s the best time of day to take an L-arginine supplement? There isn’t necessarily a recommended time to take L-arginine. Like most other supplements, however, taking it daily at mealtimes is a good plan of action.
Is L-arginine safe to take? Yes. L-arginine is safe to take in healthy patients. Children, patients with liver/kidney disease, or users who are already taking some kind of blood-regulating drug should contact their doctor before starting to supplement with L-arginine.
Can pregnant women supplement with L-arginine? In general, the evidence points towards L-arginine being a safe choice for pregnant women. In one study, L-arginine supplementation actually proved beneficial by decreasing the risk of pre-eclampsia. In animal studies, it has increased productivity and increased the rate of embryonic survival. Pregnant women who are already taking other medications should consult their doctor first.
Can I take L-arginine if I have a kidney/liver disease? If you have a chronic liver or kidney disease, you may be able to still take L-arginine, but it’s best to consult a doctor beforehand, as supplementation could either affect any drugs you’re currently taking or dramatically increase your body’s potassium levels, increasing the risk of further complications.
What drugs does L-arginine interact with? Blood thinners, hypertension-lowering drugs, and drugs that deal with the kidney or the liver are all possible interactions with L-arginine. Elderly patients, in particular, may want to be careful, as L-arginine could cause unexpected vasodilation in combination with other blood thinners.
Does L-arginine help treat erectile dysfunction? Yes, L-arginine can help treat ED. It does this by becoming the gas nitric oxide (NO) in the body. NO is important for erectile function because it helps blood vessels relax, so more oxygen-rich blood can circulate through your arteries.
Is L-arginine safe to take daily? The safety of long-term arginine supplement use is not clear.
Can L-arginine cause weight gain? L-arginine can cause weight gain by adding muscle or stimulating increased levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone). However, it increases HGH levels when taken in very large amounts.
Can you take l L-arginine with Viagra? Taking sildenafil (Viagra) and L-arginine together might cause blood pressure to go too low.
Is L-arginine or L-citrulline better? Neither is better or worse as they are part of the same family. L-citrulline is an amino acid normally made by the body. The body converts L-citrulline to L-arginine, another type of amino acid.
Can you take too much L-arginine? Yes, you can take too much L-arginine. L-arginine is considered safe in moderate doses, too much L-arginine can have severe side effects, including death.
Can you take L-arginine on an empty stomach? Yes, L-arginine can be taken on an empty stomach. However, taking L-arginine, or l-arginine hydrochloride, taken on an empty stomach, can cause a significant release of growth hormone in many people depending on the dose.
Is L-arginine a blood thinner? No L-arginine is not a blood thinner, but it may have similar effects. Because it dilates blood vessels, L-arginine may also increase excessive bleeding risks. Hemophiliacs, people on blood thinners and people taking ginkgo balboa should refrain from taking L-arginine.
Can children take L-arginine supplements? While it is not considered to be toxic for children, using L-arginine supplements should be closely monitored and regulated when used for children and their associated conditions. Children should be given L-arginine supplements based on their age.
Can L-arginine supplements affect vision? Though L-arginine has many health benefits, those who use supplements specifically for L-arginine may experience issues with their vision. Recent studies have shown that elevated levels of the arginase enzyme may contribute to vascular eye damage (36). Though who choose to use this supplement regularly should consider other options if there is an existing history of vision problems.
Can L-arginine help with mood disorders? Yes, the use of L-arginine supplements may provide health benefits to those experiencing depression or other mood disorders. Recent studies have shown that low levels of arginine may contribute to the prevalence of depression in some patients (37).
Can women take L-arginine while breastfeeding? Though there have been few direct concerns, the use of L-arginine is not recommended in women who are breastfeeding. The use of additional supplements during this time should be limited to those with an extensive history of study and research. As there have been few studies conducted on women during breastfeeding using L-arginine, it is recommended that women stay safe and avoid the use of this supplement
Who would benefit from L-arginine supplementation? There are many people who stand the chance to benefit from L-arginine supplementation. In general, however, those looking to improve their physical performance and recovery would like to improve their cardiovascular health, and those who would like to improve their sexual wellness would see the most benefit from using L-arginine supplementation.
How long does it take to see results from L-arginine supplementation? The turnaround time for results when using L-arginine supplementation will greatly vary from person to person. In general, most users report seeing results within 2 weeks of starting supplementation. The extent of these results will also vary based on the dosage being used.
What are the symptoms associated with low levels of L-arginine? While the symptoms of low arginine levels can vary and mirror symptoms associated with other disorders or conditions, there are a few key symptoms to look for. In general, low arginine levels may cause fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, nausea, inhibited growth, or red eyes depending on the individual. If you experience these symptoms, it is recommended that you consult a trained physician prior to beginning L-arginine supplementation
Does L-arginine support cardiovascular health? Yes, L-arginine can enhance and improve cardiovascular health. In general, L-arginine helps the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide has been known to maximize blood flow throughout the body. This includes enhancing the blood pumping capabilities within the heart. The multiple health benefits associated with L-arginine usage have been shown to decrease the prevalence of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes
What type of amino acid is L-arginine? L-arginine is an amino acid synthesized by the body from ornithine. Classified as conditionally indispensable, it is used in the biosynthesis of proteins in the human body.
L-arginine is a promising supplement for a wide range of conditions, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease to even erectile dysfunction and possibly cancer. Its potential as a blood thinner and anti-inflammatory is also already well-researched and established.
In terms of more futuristic treatments, like cancer immunotherapy and diabetes cures, it also presents a promising avenue of research.
For Healthtrends #1 recommended L-arginine, click here.