Arginine, Citrulline, and Nitric Oxide

There are certain elements created within the body that are crucial to maintaining circulation and heart health. There are others that go towards the production of those key elements; elements that can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and many more cardiovascular related diseases. Arginine and citrulline are critical proponents of nitric oxide, which is a critical proponent of a healthy heart. Here’s how it works:

What is Arginine?

Arginine is an amazing little organic compound that has been medically proven to improve vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow and decreasing blood pressure. Vasodilation is an automatic and direct response to distress within the body’s tissues and muscles. When these tissues and muscles are not receiving enough nutrients or oxygen, they send out the distress signal that alerts the body to increase vasodilation, widen the blood vessels, and send more blood with oxygen to the distressed areas.

According to the MayoClinic.com, this improved blood flow can help decrease the risk for, and treat, chest pain, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), heart disease or failure, erectile dysfunction, intermittent claudication/peripheral vascular disease, and vascular headaches (headache-inducing blood vessel swelling).

What is Citrulline?

Like arginine, citrulline is an amino acid that has been researched in association with reducing high blood pressure and improving symptoms of sickle cell disease. This organic compound has also been used for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, fatigue, muscle weakness, sickle cell disease, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and diabetes, according to WebMD.com.

Arginine and Citrulline Together

Separately, arginine and citrulline are powerful amino acids that facilitate the production of nitric oxide (NO). However, together these two components can increase quicker production of NO, support exercise performance, increase weightlifting performance, delay muscle fatigue in weight training, improve immune system levels, improve vasodilation, and benefit overall heart health.

Nitric Oxide

Arginine and citrulline work together to create NO. Nitric oxide is a gas that is found naturally in the body. It’s main purpose is to keep oxygen flowing through the body by maintaining circulation with vasodilation. Nitric oxide is produced through nitric oxide synthase, which can only take place with the presence of amino acids like arginine and citrulline.

Once created, NO works wonders for athletes and those at high risk for cardiovascular diseases, as well as your everyday Joe. Bodybuilders and athletes take NO in the form of arginine supplements to increase blood flow, oxygen delivery, glucose uptake, muscle velocity, muscle growth, and after-work out recovery.

Nitric Oxide and Heart Disease

Nitric oxide has been used for many years as a preventative measure for those at high risk for heart disease. By increasing blood flow and keeping the blood vessels wide enough to avoid plaque build-up, NO can reduce an individual’s overall risk for certain cardiovascular diseases.

According to Dr. John P. Cooke, head of Stanford University’s vascular unit, the number one contributing factor to heart disease is damage to the inner lining of arteries, or the endothelium. A damaged endothelium cannot produce enough nitric oxide to widen the vessels enough, and more damage can occur as plaque builds up in the arteries.

“When the endothelium is healthy it’s like Teflon, and things don’t stick. When it’s unhealthy, it becomes more like Velcro, attracting blood-borne gunk like flies to flypaper.”

Maintaining a healthy diet that includes foods that contain arginine such as cottage cheese, milk, yogurt, beef, pork, poultry, seafood, granola, oatmeal and many more nuts can help increase nitric oxide production and reduce your risk for heart disease. Exercise is another wonderful way to reduce your risks.

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