L-arginine, production of nitric oxide and muscle hypertrophy
In general, any professional or amateur athlete seeks to achieve greater muscle efficiency and better vascularization, with a twofold purpose: (1) ensure the supply of nutrients and oxygen to muscle, and (2) improve the elimination of lactic acid, main cause of muscle fatigue. Being both athletes coveted goals aimed at muscle hypertrophy, such as those focused on speed or strength.
For this reason we have studied the mechanisms by which these characteristics are increased. The result is the nitric oxide molecule produced from an amino acid in particular as it is the L-arginine and, despite being the smallest generated by our body, is a major vasodilator produced by the human body.
To assess the importance of this amino acid, we must know the mechanism by which it is converted to nitric oxide, and the pros and cons that this may lead to our body because most molecules can trigger different responses in different organs.
How L-arginine is converted to nitric oxide
The L-arginine is a non-essential, ie, synthesizable amino acid our body, which is part of many proteins found in foods we consume daily. Once absorbed by the digestive tract, this amino acid travels through the blood to target organs or tissues that require its function at that moment. Once internalized within the cell by the action of a cytoplasmic enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NO synthase), L-arginine leads to nitric oxide and another molecule, L-citrulline.
What is nitric oxide?
Nitric oxide is a free radical that, instead of acting as an oxidant and damage cells, acts as a protector of the same. However it is not stored in the body, but is created just when it needs it, why supplementation with L-arginine should be done at least daily.
As for production situations caused by heavy and stressful stimuli at the metabolic level (very cold, intense exercise, etc.) are required if we are to safely increase their concentration, must exercise high intensity (HIIT), since it has not It has been sufficiently shown that moderate exercise also impinges on an increase in blood levels.
Strong muscular stimuli activate a large number of metabolic pathways that promote muscle hypertrophy, so that if before the signal need a greater number of muscle fibers (hyperplasia) and thicker (hypertrophy), the muscle itself triggers mechanisms to be adapted-.
Properties of nitric oxide
First we evaluate the positive properties that can provide us with nitric oxide level of the whole organism, the presently known are:
- It helps fight infectious organisms, especially of bacterial origin.
- It is anti-inflammatory, since it inhibits part of the pro-inflammatory molecules.
- It contributes to the fight against cancer cells.
- Regulates vasodilation circulatory system substantially beneficial feature for people hypertension and / or heart problems. It can also act as an anticoagulant, thus avoiding thrombi cause heart, and its presence in the bloodstream causes the endothelium of blood vessels to relax, and widening its diameter.
- Increases irrigation nervous system and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, enhancing long term memory.
- Promotes angiogenesis, or in other words, the creation of new blood vessels that provide more nutrients and oxygen to the muscles, which will make faster lactate removal, improving performance.
- It produces an increase in the number of mitochondria (mitochondrial biogenesis) improving the utilization of fatty acids by skeletal muscle. Furthermore, an increase in the amount of mitochondrial enzymes, element will have increased production of ATP, the molecule which provides the power to run the whole body occurs.
Specifically, this picture shows the metabolic pathway triggers both exercise and nitric oxide within the cell. Strong muscle stimuli cause the gene PGC-1a, which stimulates, in turn, transcription of various genes involved in creating new muscle, creating new mitochondria that will effect the respiratory chain, is expressed and thus a creating greater ATP, and genes involved in fatty acid utilization as an energy source (B-oxidation).
- It helps muscle regeneration to make recovery after a hard workout more quickly, since it is a potent stimulator of cell division and promotes, thus muscle hypertrophy. Nitric oxide stimulates muscle satellite cells, ie, responsible for splitting-is, giving rise to more muscle cells.
- It protects the integrity of the muscle fibers during exercise, especially in those movements involving eccentric muscle contraction. This can be seen very clearly in a study with rats where 4 groups were made, a control group (C) was at rest, and three groups that were made to run on a tape with a downward slope to simulate eccentric exercise. Within these last three groups, a group took nothing (R), other L-arginine (RA), and another L-arginine mixed with another supplement (RN). Measuring the degree of fibrillar breaks muscle was performed in all groups allows us to see how the group had more muscle rupture was not taking anything, and least had been the one who took L-arginine alone, reaching almost group at rest.
- In the sexual field, acting on the same metabolic pathway that the drug Viagra, causing a similar effect for those suffering from erectile dysfunction, although at a lower level.
Cons of nitric oxide
In order to assess either a substance must also take into account the cons and be aware of what can lead a botched supplementation. Cons of nitric oxide known so far are:
- Excess nitric oxide sustained over the years has been linked to cases of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson`s or Alzheimer, but only in cases where the amount display elevated endogenously. Still, there is no need to tempt fate with excessive levels of this substance.
- As an oxidizing substance, can cause DNA damage, and genetic alterations.
L-arginine supplementation for a greater amount of nitric oxide
As we said, nitric oxide does not have any storage in the body, so it is best to spread the doses of this supplement in divided doses, or once every day, as this may increase to 46% the amount of nitric oxide in the body, as indicated by several studies.
However, it should also be noted that when a molecule that synthesizes the body and precisely why we must encourage the need for it to generate its own nitric oxide because, otherwise, the production of endogenous nitric oxide it could decrease. It is important to emphasize the fact that our body is a machine that synthesizes only what you need. Thus, if there were always enough nitric oxide, it would not have the need to produce it, so, this reason is recommended batches of supplements every two or three months, for example, followed by a pause of two or three months more on what should be a completely different supplement.
To ensure absorption of this supplement, however, it should not be taken together with B vitamins because they inhibit the production of nitric oxide.
Finally, foods also contain a higher amount of L-arginine, such as those containing omega 3 fatty acids (nuts and bluefish), dairy, meat, and containing polyphenols (such as grape, pure cocoa and red fruits), along with others who are especially stand out as especially beets and watermelon, perfect for rehydrating our bodies of water, minerals, vitamins and L-arginine throughout the summer.
This article has sought to explain the operation of nitric oxide and what role it plays during exercise. It has also tried to expose all the advantages and disadvantages of supplementation with L-arginine, which can be a good supplement for athletes who are stuck in their progress towards their sporting objective, but like any supplement should takes with caution and awareness of its effects.