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Arginine Supplement Boosts Endurance in Athletes


Athletes and anyone else who would like to boost their endurance may find an amino acid called arginine to be helpful. Researchers at the University of Exeter report that an arginine supplement raises nitric oxide in the body, which in turn can boost stamina during vigorous exercise.

The Amino Acid Arginine
Although the body usually produces enough arginine, supplementation is sometimes recommended for individuals who have infections, burns, protein deficiency, and who have urea synthesis disorders. Symptoms of arginine deficiency include hair loss, rash, constipation, fatty liver, and poor wound healing.

Arginine transforms into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax. Research has indicated that this ability can help improve chest pain, erectile dysfunction, headache, and heart failure, as well as be useful for wound healing, bodybuilding, and improved sperm production. Argining has also been suggested to help fight obesity.

New Arginine and Endurance Study

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In the University of Exeter study, nine healthy males participated in various physical challenges on a cycling ergometer and their performance was measured. The participants were randomly assigned to take either a placebo consisting of a blackcurrent drink or the L-arginine supplement (Ark 1 from Arkworld International Ltd).

According to Professor Andrew Jones, who is in the University’s School of Sport and Health Sciences, he and his colleagues found that “when the dietary supplement was used there was a striking increase in performance by altering the use of oxygen during exercise.”

In a previous study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, use of arginine supplements in endurance athletes did not improve performance.

The new Exeter study comes on the heels of other research performed at the University in which investigators showed that the high levels of nitrate in beetroot juice, which also raises nitric oxide in the body, has a similar beneficial effect on endurance.

The study’s authors note that their findings are important for athletes because they suggest individuals will be allowed to exercise up to 20 percent longer and improve 1 to 2 percent in race times. Although this may not sound like a big improvement to some, it can be very significant in a highly competitive field. Along with improving endurance, the arginine supplement was also found to significantly reduce systolic blood pressure.

Abel T et al. International Journal of Sports Medicine 2005 Jun; 26(5): 344-49
Mayo Clinic
University of Exeter