Biomedical Fast Takes


Arginine Enhances Exercise Tolerance

A recent report has found that dietary nitrate (as NO3) supplementation increases plasma nitrite (NO2) concentration, a biomarker of nitric oxide (NO) availability, and that this improves exercise efficiency and exercise tolerance in healthy humans. Based on this, researchers at the School of Sport and Health Sciences, St. Luke’s Campus, University of Exeter in Exeter, United Kingdom hypothesized that dietary supplementation with L-arginine, the substrate for NO synthase (NOS), would elicit similar responses.1

In a double-blind, crossover study, nine healthy men (aged 19–38 years) consumed 500 ml of a beverage containing 6 g of L-arginine or a placebo beverage and completed a series of moderate- and severe-intensity exercise bouts 1 hour after ingestion of the arginine. Plasma NO2 concentration was significantly greater in the arginine than the placebo group (108% greater) and systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced (from about 131 to 123 mmHg). A systolic of 120 mmHg is considered healthy.


Arginine supplementation appears to
reduce systolic blood pressure and to
improve exercise efficiency and
exercise tolerance in healthy humans.


The steady-state O2 uptake (VO2) during moderate-intensity exercise was reduced by 7% in the arginine group. VO2 is a measurement of the maximal oxygen consumption, maximal oxygen uptake, peak oxygen uptake or aerobic capacity. During severe-intensity exercise, the VO2 slow component amplitude was reduced in both the arginine and placebo groups, while the time to exhaustion was extended 707 and 562 seconds in arginine and placebo, respectively, following consumption of arginine.

In conclusion, similar to the effects of increased dietary NO3 intake, elevating NO bioavailability through dietary arginine supplementation reduced the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and blunted the VO2 slow component and extended the time to exhaustion during severe-intensity exercise. In other words, arginine supplementation appears to reduce systolic blood pressure and to improve exercise efficiency and exercise tolerance in healthy humans.

References

  1. Bailey SJ, Winyard PG, Vanhatalo A, Blackwell JR, DiMenna FJ, Wilkerson DP, Jones AM. Acute L-arginine supplementation reduces the O2 cost of moderate-intensity exercise and enhances high-intensity exercise tolerance. J Appl Physiol 2010 Nov;109(5):1394-403.

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