L citrulline malate vs l arginine*

L-Citrulline vs L-Arginine: Which is Better for Increasing Nitric Oxide?

Scan the supplement facts panel of any supplement intended to increase nitric oxide (NO) and you will likely see l-citrulline or l-arginine (if not both) listed

NO is an important signaling molecule involved in many bodily processes related to exercise and recovery It helps to regulate muscle contraction, mitochondrial respiration and blood flow

Therefore, increasing the bioavailability of NO can improve exercise performance and enhance muscular recovery

But l-citrulline and l-arginine are not equal when it comes to increasing levels of nitric oxide in the body

What Is L-Arginine?

L-arginine is a conditionally indispensable amino acid This means that healthy adults can make all the l-arginine they need and do not need to consume it through the diet

But under periods of growth or chronic disease (such as type 2 diabetes) the body cannot produce sufficient amounts and it must be consumed through the diet or supplements

Food sources of l-arginine include seafood, watermelon juice, nuts and meats L-arginine is also sold as a supplement, either alone or in combination with other ingredients (such as in a pre-workout)

L-Arginine Directly Produces NO

With the help of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), l-arginine directly produces NO Accordingly, this process is called the l-arginine-NO pathway

When taken as a supplement, l-arginine is thought to spike levels of arginine in the body and in turn, increase NO production and blood flow to the working muscles

While this looks good on paper, this is not necessarily what happens in the human body

When l-arginine is taken orally, it is subject to first-pass metabolism by the intestines and liver This means, a large percentage (as much as 38%) of arginine is broken down before it gets the chance to reach the bloodstream

What Is L-Citrulline?

L-citrulline is an dispensable amino acid, meaning the body can make all it needs It is considered a non-protein amino acid, which as the name implies means it is not derived from protein

Its name comes from Citrullus, the Latin term for watermelon from which it was first isolated In fact, watermelon is the primary dietary source of this amino acid

Similar to l-arginine, l-citrulline is sold as a supplement, either alone or alongside other ingredients marketed to increase NO and improve exercise performance

L-Citrulline Is a Precursor of L-Arginine

When l-arginine is converted to NO by NOS, l-citrulline is produced as a byproduct

L-citrulline is a precursor of l-arginine because it can be converted into l-arginine in the body

This is important, because l-citrulline does not undergo intestinal or liver metabolism and even inhibits arginase, the enzyme that breaks down l-arginine

This means that supplementing with l-citrulline can increase levels of l-arginine (and therefore NO) in the body more so than supplementing with l-arginine itself

L-Citrulline Is Your Best Bet

Large doses of l-arginine are shown to increase levels of l-arginine in the body, but it tends to be ineffective in increasing blood flow during exercise

Moreover, large doses of l-arginine (exceeding 10 grams) can cause stomach discomfort and diarrhea

L-citrulline on the other hand is well-tolerated and more effective than l-arginine in increasing NO levels and improving exercise performance

Moreover, combining glutathione with l-citrulline can support NO to a greater extent than l-citrulline aloneResearch on citrulline malate is relatively new but promising. Glutathione is an important antioxidant that helps extend the short half-life of NO

Gavin Van De Walle, MS is the president of Supra Nutrition and a consultant for dietary supplement formulations He is formally trained in human nutrition and bioenergetics

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