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L-Arginine Effects on the Brain

author image Avika Agarwal
Avika Agarwal has been writing professionally since 2007 and has presented her research at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India. She holds a M.S. in neuroscience from Jiwaji University, India.
L-Arginine Effects on the Brain
Finger pointing to a brain scan Photo Credit: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

L-arginine, a semi-essential amino acid, affects many vital functions in the body. In the brain, L-arginine is oxidized to nitric oxide gas, and this gas diffuses rapidly from cell to cell as one of the possible chemical messengers involved in learning and memory. Scientists at the University of Nis found that “L-arginine metabolism in the brain is very important for the normal brain functioning.”

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Neurotransmitter Activity

L-arginine, a precursor of nitric oxide, plays a prominent role in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of severe memory loss and intellectual deterioration in the elderly. The disease is thought to involve disruption of neurotransmitters in the brain. In a 2008 study published in “International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Pathology,” Dr. Jing Yi found that L-arginine could affect the origination and development of Alzheimer’s.

Neuroprotective Effect

A study published in the June 2010 “Frontiers of Integrative Neurosciences” found that intravenous administration of L-arginine protects against cerebral edema via the nitric oxide production. Cerebral edema is the excess accumulation of water in the brain. L-arginine reduces edema formation after a brain trauma.

Blood Circulation

In the brain, nitric oxide gas forms through the oxidation of the amino acid L-arginine. This nitric oxide gas molecule relaxes the smooth muscles of the arteries that supply blood to the heart, thereby enhancing healthy blood flow to the areas of the brain. L-arginine also is helpful in fostering easy and efficient flow of blood through the blood vessels to the brain.

Human Growth Hormone

The pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain, produces human growth hormone, most commonly known as the anti-aging hormone, as it improves memory and reduces the signs of aging. A study published in the January 2008 “Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care” reports that nitric oxide in L-arginine stimulates the release of human growth hormone and reduces the signs of aging.

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