Slowing down aging is not as difficult as you might think. A key strategy relies on amino acids, such as L-arginine, that help restore human growth hormone (hGH) to youthful levels. The rejuvenating properties of hGH have been hot topics for scientific research for decades. Its anti-aging effects were the focus of a 1997 book, Grow Young with HGH: The Amazing Medically Proven Plan to Reverse Aging, by Dr. Ronald Klatz, President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
Of course, mainstream medicine has a prescription drug approach. It entails hGH injections, which are expensive and inconvenient.
The more natural approach includes supplementing with hGH secretagogues—substances that promote the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland. L-Arginine is at the head of the class among hGH secretagogues.
Anti-Aging Benefits of L-Arginine
L-Arginine provides many other benefits in addition to its role as a growth hormone secretagogue. A 2010 review of the anti-aging effects of L-arginine concluded that,
The demonstrated anti-aging benefits of l-arginine show greater potential than any pharmaceutical or nutraceutical agent ever previously discovered.
What is anti-aging exactly? It simply means restoring youthful health. When scientists measure anti-aging changes due to L-arginine, “youthful” means improving various aspects of health, such as the following:
Reduce risks of vascular and heart diseases
Reverse erectile dysfunction
Improve immune system responses
Better gastrointestinal function
Increase fat metabolism
Lower the risks of cancer
Increase muscle mass
Faster healing from burns or wounds
Improve detoxification by the liver
Strengthen connective tissue in skin, nails, and hair
Lower blood pressure
Boost insulin sensitivity
Although such science-based changes are important, L-arginine also makes people feel better. Specifically, in a small study included in the review cited above, subjects also noticed a number of improvements in the following:
- Ability to concentrate
- Memory retrieval
- Delay in mental exhaustion
- Reduction in severity of anxiety and stress
- Reduction in nervousness
- Deepness of sleep
- General mood
- Overall feeling of well-being
- Higher energy, especially in the morning when waking up
No wonder L-arginine has become a highly revered supplement in the anti-aging industry.
How Much L-Arginine Do You Need?
This is a key question that has a wide range of answers. One of the first studies to explore the effects of dosage reported in 1980 that amounts as low as 200 milligrams a day still boosted blood levels of hGH by as much as three-fold in people in their 70s. Responses in children and young adults were even higher.
In the other extreme, amounts up to several grams a day have been shown to increase hGH levels before causing stomach upset and nausea (2009).
In general, more is not necessarily better. It is more important to maintain regular intake, regardless of how much you consume.
Other variables can also have an impact on the effects of L-arginine. For example, weight-bearing exercise, especially on an empty stomach, causes hGH levels to increase. Even a good night’s sleep will have the same effect, since hGH release typically increases while you sleep.
Getting the most out of L-arginine, regardless of dosage, means taking it several hours before or after a meal. The best times are before a weight-lifting workout and before bedtime.