Fad or Fab?
Recently, dietary supplements have taken the fitness industry by storm. From athletes to bodybuilders, everybody seems to swear by them. With social media having a major role to play in our lifestyle shift, health conscious people are popping pills and drinking shakes in an attempt to look like their fitness role models. From protein powders, multi-vitamins to amino-acids, the market is flooded with supplements known to be catalysts in the process of muscle synthesis; and we are here to throw some light on the one that is trending these days–L-arginine.
L-arginine is a semi-essential amino-acid that helps in the build-up of protein and performs various other physiological functions, as well. It is further known as a precursor of Nitric Oxide, a property beneficial in circulation. However, arginine is not naturally synthesised in the body, therefore, it is crucial to consume foods that are rich in it. Nuts, seeds, red meat, fish, dairy, and eggs are known to contain L-arginine that can replenish the body’s requirement.
Since it is a building block of protein, fitness enthusiasts have started consuming L-arginine supplements to aid muscle building. In an attempt to expedite the process, they tend to go overboard with the consumption of the same. We spoke to Dr. Shikha Mahajan, Holistic Nutritionist, and founder of Diet Podium, to understand the pros and cons of this supplement. On being asked about her opinion on L-arginine as a muscle synthesis supplement, she says, “This component is projected in studies to promote muscle gain. However, this should be taken with a pinch of salt as most of these studies
are funded by supplement companies. There are much healthier, safer, and provenly effective ways of gaining muscle mass, and L-arginine is not really worth the hype.
Talking about the pros and cons of the supplement, Dr. Shikha explains, “L-arginine is an expensive drug used to treat angina, hypertension, peripheral arterial disease, and chronic kidney disease. Any drug as potent as this can have serious repercussions on the body, which does not have these diseases. Side effects like low blood pressure, fainting, cirrhosis or even heart attacks are quite common in people taking unmonitored dozes of these.” She further explains that it is advisable to go for natural sources of L-arginine, and the best course of action is to consume a supplement that is proven to be more safe and effective. Dr. Shikha concludes that, “Not only is consuming L-arginine for a long duration hazardous, even using it for a short duration is not advisable. This type of a drug should only be consumed under the expert advice of a nutritionist or a doctor, and regular monthly blood tests should be done to monitor any repercussions.”