The amino acid L-arginine performs several essential functions within the human body. Critical for the construction of living protein, arginine also acts as a natural precursor to nitric oxide, which expands blood vessels and improves circulation. Health care providers may also recommend arginine as a naturopathic intervention to treat several diseases and conditions. Dosages of L-arginine vary depending on the person's individual needs. Some brands also include varying amounts of L-arginine, possibly in combination with a variety of other ingredients. Consult ingredient lists and elicit the advice of your health care provider when taking any supplement.
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General Dose Guidelines
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that people typically take supplemental lysine in doses of 2 to 8 grams per day, or 2,000 to 8,000 milligrams. In general, studies have used doses ranging from 500 to 16,000 milligrams of L-arginine per day for up to six months at a time. More studies are needed to determine the safest and most effective dose for each condition.
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure is a serious problem associated with fluid buildup in the cardiovascular system. The National Institutes of Health recommends a dose of 600 to 20,000 milligrams of L-arginine each day to ease symptoms of congestive heart failure. Ideally, patients should divide this intake among three daily doses, or as recommended by a health care professional.
L-arginine supplements may reduce chest pain associated with coronary artery disease, or angina pectoris. The National Institutes of Health recommends that a patient with angina pectoris use 900 to 1,800 milligrams of L-arginine daily, dividing her intake into three daily doses of 300 to 600 milligrams each. In clinical trials, people with angina have used this dose safely for up to one month.
Supplements containing L-arginine may help to treat erectile dysfunction by dilating blood vessels and improving blood flow to the genitals. Noting that lower doses appear to be ineffective, the National Institutes of Health recommends a daily dose of 5,000 milligrams for the treatment of organic erectile dysfunction.
Use in Infants
In general, L-arginine supplements are not appropriate for anyone under the age of 18. However, the National Institutes of Health acknowledges L-arginine's ability to prevent inflammation in the digestive tracts of premature newborns. Under a pediatrician's guidance, parents might supplement a baby's diet with 261 mg of L-arginine each day.