L-citrulline Health Benefits
What is L-citrulline?
L-citrulline is basically an amino acid that occurs naturally. You can find them in foods like pumpkins, watermelons, and cucumbers. However, what makes this compound unique is that the human body does not utilize it to make protein like it does the other amino acids. Citrulline derives from Citrullus, which means watermelon in Latin.
People use L-citrulline for enhancing their workouts or athletic performance and treating heart failure. Although there is no scientific evidence to prove its efficacy, L-citrulline is also used for erectile dysfunction, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and increased blood pressure.
The working mechanism of L-citrulline
Besides its presence in foods, the human body can also naturally produce L-citrulline. L-citrulline in the body turns into L-arginine, another kind of amino acid, and nitric oxide (NO). L-citrulline potentially helps in supplying ingredients needed by the body to produce proteins. It may also aid in widening arteries and veins to improve blood circulation and maintain blood pressure.
L-citrulline is available in the form of a pharmaceutical-grade and an OTC (over the counter) ingredient. Athletes trying to boost their strength and stamina opt for the latter version as there are studies that show that L-citrulline can improve performance due to its various benefits for the health.
Uses and benefits of L-citrulline
Alleviates symptoms of Heart Failure: When taken orally, L-citrulline may be able to effectively improve the condition of people who suffer from heart failure and are under standard medical treatments. L-citrulline helps lower the blood pressure in the patients’ lungs, which improves the heart’s function. It was proven in a 2010 study where heart failure patients showed a significant decrease in their blood pressure and an improvement in the heart function with a dose of three grams L-citrulline twice daily for sixty days.
Improves Workouts and Athletic Performance: Oral consumption of L-citrulline for up to about a week might help build stamina and improve workout sessions and athletic performances. You may be able to lift weights for longer durations, work harder, and even increase speed on the bike. But there is no evidence that shows an increase in the running distance due to the intake of L-citrulline. You also would not see considerable growth in the muscle size even after taking the ingredient for eight weeks.
Increase in Blood Flow: Nitric oxide is a chemical that plays a crucial role in the regulation of blood flow. Therefore, an increase in L-citrulline levels in the human body means an increase in the NO level, leading to increased blood flow. Proper blood circulation is essential for the body to keep all its components functioning smoothly.
Lowers Blood Pressure: Some studies show that L-citrulline is a great supplement for helping people suffering from high blood pressure. The ability of nitric oxide to dilate the blood vessels helps in the lowering of blood pressure.
Helps in the Treatment of Erectile Dysfunction: Although more research needs to support this claim, the intake of L-citrulline orally seems to aid the sexual function in people suffering from erectile dysfunction. It could be due to the increased circulation of oxygen and blood throughout the body.
Improved Brain Performance: Our body cannot function without oxygen. And when there is a lack of it, we certainly cannot expect any organ to function normally. L-citrulline may be able to help boost the performance of the brain due to its ability to enhance blood flow. The use of more oxygen means better and a higher level of brain performance.
Besides the ones mentioned above, there are other big claims about the benefits of L-citrulline one can get. Here are some of the more health issues that L-citrulline can help alleviate; however, they require more scientific evidence.
Muscular Dystrophy: It is a disorder that weakens the muscles and also causes muscle loss in both children and adults. Early research indicates that administering L-citrulline to patients suffering from mind muscular dystrophy can see improvement in muscle function and also a reduction in muscle loss in both adults and children. The downside is that it doesn’t have much effect on people with a more severe form of this disease.
Lysinuric Protein Intolerance: This is a disorder in the human body where it is not able to break down lysine, ornithine, arginine, and amino acids properly. There are claims that children with this condition can get some benefits and decrease disease symptoms by consuming L-citrulline with meals.
Post-Surgery Hypertension: The occurrence of spiking blood pressure in children after surgery is quite common. The pressure may also level up in the pulmonary arteries. Increasing the levels of L-citrulline in the patients’ blood might be able to bring down the blood pressure.
Some other health issues that are believed to improve with the administration of L-citrulline include the following:
- Alzheimer disease
- Sickle cell disease: A study on five Sickle cell disease patients in 2001 showed that daily doses (twice) of medicine containing Sickle cell disease dramatically improved the symptoms and the overall blood health.
- Reye syndrome (A brain and liver-damaging disorder)
- Ischemia-reperfusion (Tissue damage due to decreased blood flow)
- Heart diseases
- Diabetes and other conditions.
Side Effects of L-citrulline
When consumed orally in appropriate doses, L-citrulline is considered safe for adults. You will be relieved to know that there aren’t many cases of L-citrulline side effects. It is also safe for children to ingest L-citrulline or take it intravenously in appropriate doses. However, there is still a possibility that you can experience cough, an upset stomach, heartburn, urinary problems, and swelling also.
One precaution you need to keep in mind is that it is best for pregnant or breast-feeding women to steer clear of L-citrulline. Since this compound occurs naturally, one might believe it to be safe for everyone. But there is a lack of available information that can help us determine whether L-citrulline is safe.
After a little research on the effects of L-citrulline on pregnant and lactating women, professionals recommend not to consume L-citrulline supplements during such times.