“Arginine” and “Citrulline”- “Supplements, Food Sources and Drawbacks”

Arginine” and “Citrulline”- “Supplements, Food Sources and Drawbacks”


Today, I will discuss about supplements that can again help in boosting your performance during workout or so. Along with it, they will also help in muscle recovery as creatine does but their efficiency is different from creatine. They are “Arginine” and “Citrulline”- “Supplements, Food Sources and Drawbacks”.

In my last blog, I briefly explained “Creatine and Creatine Monohydrate” responsible to increase efficiency and boost performance. I also wrote that supplements can never be the main drivers. They are just the helpers and it is important to focus on whole food that you consume. When you improve your nutrition or follow the correct clean nutrition, supplements like Creatine work as a supporter in enhancing performance.

I bet you would have certainly heard theses names. They have many functions but in fitness industry, you must know that both are responsible for “Vasodilation” meaning dilatation or widening of blood vessels. As a result, the blood flow increases leading to provision of more nutrients and oxygen to the working muscles! Gym goers or people who exercise address it as a “Pump” in the muscles.

Arginine and Food Sources


If you have read my blog on, “Importance of Protein and Amino Acids”, there I have nicely explained the definition of amino acid along with its 3 categories. It is a necessity to consume essential amino acids from your diet as your body cannot produce them. Non-essential amino acid need not have to be consumed from diet as our body can build them on its own. The last category which is conditionally essential amino acids. As the name suggests, these are those amino acids that our body can produce efficiently but depending upon the condition or situation, you may need to supplement it, to give an example, athletes.

Arginine is a semi essential or conditionally essential amino acids naturally made in kidney. It is responsible for relaxation of blood vessels in your body. Arginine produces a gas known as nitric oxide gas (NO) responsible for widening of blood vessels. Most healthy people do not need to supplement with it as body can make it from glutamine via citrulline. It is naturally present in chicken, pork, milk and dairy products, dry fruits and eggs.

If someone works out or is in sports, he or she may need to supplement his/her body with it. That is why arginine also comes under conditionally essential amino acids. In Hindi, people may address it as “NASO KA FOOLNA”. I will give you an idea about its working.

Arginine Uses, Supplements and Drawbacks

Many think supplements of arginine is best for aesthetic look as it gives their vessels a thick appearance. They flaunt this look and feel proud and confident. The advantage of widening the blood vessels includes increase in blood flow. Your blood carries different nutrients along with oxygen. Now increase in flow of blood will in turn lead to more supply of the nutrients and oxygen to the working muscles. As a result, your muscle recovery occurs at a faster rate. The working capacity of the muscles is also improved leading to efficient performance.

There are some drawbacks of arginine supplement. Its bioavailability is not good. The absorption rate of arginine in your body is very poor as it is unable to pass the first pass of the liver. Moreover, it gets converted into nitric oxide (NO) at a faster rate. The pump or the energy you get after consuming it, is for shorter period of time leading to faster muscle fatigue. If your body builds arginine, the rate of absorption is also fair. But upon consuming it externally as a supplement, the rate of absorption is not at all good inside the body.

Should you take L-Arginine?

You may have this question in your mind if you can take arginine supplement for improved performance or not! Yes, but due to faster conversion into nitric oxide gas (NO), you will get the pump for shorter duration of time leaving you with disappointment. In market, its supplement comes with the name L-Arginine. “L” stands for “purely” meaning “only” arginine is present. So, it will not be a good decision to add it in your daily life.

Citrulline- Food Sources and Benefits

An example of non-essential amino acid is Citrulline. Your body can make it on its own and you can consume it through external food sources as well. For example, meat, nuts and watermelon. Its supplementation can give you vasodilation for a longer duration. Bioavailability of citrulline supplement is better than arginine meaning the absorption rate of citrulline is better than arginine in your body. It easily passes through the first pass of liver. Synthesis of citrulline takes place before arginine inside your body. You can say that citrulline is a precursor to arginine. It gets converted into arginine that in turn gets transformed into NO (nitric oxide gas). The conversion rate of citrulline into arginine is good.

Citrulline Supplements: L-Citrulline vs Citrulline Malate


L- Citrulline, a form of citrulline is a better supplement than arginine. Its conversion rate into arginine is 80 percent which is sustainable. It means the conversion occurs at a slower rate so body produces arginine for extended period of time. The vasodilatation is thus maintained for prolonged period. This gives rise to increased supply of nutrients and oxygen to the skeletal muscles. In addition, citrulline easily passes through the first pass of the liver. Therefore, it plays a very important role in producing nitric oxide gas.

You have another option of citrulline malate supplement. It consists of malic acid generally derived from apple. Malic acid increases the shell life of citrulline. Moreover, it buffers hydrogen ions which will not allow lactic acid to accumulate. The burning sensation you feel in your muscles during workout is because of the accumulation of hydrogen ions. Lactate inside your body combines with the hydrogen ions to form lactic acid which is the foremost cause of muscle fatigue and the burning sensation.

Therefore, malic acid helps to maintain the PH level of blood and keep it in neutral state. In acidic medium, the crucial body functions cannot take place.

Which supplement should you take?

In a nutshell, Citrulline Malate is the best available form in the market for better and improved performance. It is better than L- Arginine and L-Citrulline.

2 thoughts on ““Arginine” and “Citrulline”- “Supplements, Food Sources and Drawbacks”

  1. Your blogs on nutrition supplements are a real eye opener after all the conflicting inputs that one gets at the gym. Your simplification of seemingly complex subjects leads to a great deal of clarity. Thank you.

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