You are bound to have heard of the importance ofproteins, but..... have you heard of the term amino acid? If the answeris no, it is important for you to know that amino acids are the basiccomponents of proteins.
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Arginine. What is it?
There are essential amino acids which cannot be synthesised by the human body (they must be obtained through foods), and non-essential amino acids which can be synthesised by our body, as is the case with arginine.
A protein is formed by the joining of approximately 300 amino acids, which can be organised in many different ways to produce a single macromolecule.
In addition to their energy function, proteins perform important jobs such as maintaining tissues, transporting oxygen and carbon dioxide through the blood or maintaining the blood’s PH, among other essential functions for the human body. Furthermore, as proteins are vital for cellular growth, it is important to eat them during different stages of development such as childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, and even while breastfeeding.
We know about approximately 200 amino acids, but we only have enough information about a combination of 20 of them to obtain the wide protein diversity that we have.
What is arginine?
Arginine (L-arginine) is one of the 20 amino acids that produce proteins. It is naturally present in our body, but we can also acquire it occasionally from different plants and animals.
The nutritional intake of arginine is necessary in certain circumstances. For example, while a healthy adult doesn’t need to include this amino acid in their diet because their body develops sufficient levels, a growing child does require this nutritional content so they can properly develop their immune system.
Why is arginine important?
As well as helping to form proteins and the correct development of children, arginine is closely related to sport. This is due to the fact that this amino acid is one of the most complete in terms of metabolic properties and functions of the body. Take note of its essential functions!
- It contributes to the proper working of the immune system.
- It is the precursor of nitric oxide, which is a vasodilator that takes care of dilating the cells of the muscles so they receive more nutrients.
- It works as a vasodilator, so it improves the body’s blood flow.
- It intervenes in the releasing and action of some hormones, such as growth hormones.
-It helps the body to recover after physical exercise. Arginine can help to remove ammonia from the muscle tissues through urine.
What foods can we obtain arginine from?
Although the body usually generates the necessary quantity of arginine, it can also be found in most protein-rich foods, so we can obtain it from:
-Animal meat and eggs: beef, poultry and pork are a strong source of animal protein, and in it we can find a large quantity of arginine. Eggs are also included in this family since they are rich in this essential amino acid, especially the yolk.
-Fish, seafood and molluscs: most blue fish is rich in animal protein so it is a good source of arginine. These include sardines, grouper, squid and mussels.
-Fruits and dried fruits: avocado, kiwi, grapes, strawberries and watermelon are some of the fruits with the highest arginine content. In the case of dried fruits, some of those that contain a high quantity of this essential amino acid are pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and pine nuts. Find out more about dried fruits that you must have in your diet.
-Vegetables: onion, garlic, leek, pepper, spinach and seaweed are some of the vegetables that are rich in arginine.
-Pulses: most pulses are a source of vegetable protein. Among this group of foods, lentils, peas, kidney beans and soy stand out as a source of this essential amino acid.
In some cases, arginine can also be obtained through medication or as a food supplement, either orally, in topic form or even intravenously. However, this must always be under the supervision of a doctor or nutrition specialist.