What’s a picture of a watermelon have to do with L-citrulline? I’ll answer that in a little bit. Let’s first start with nitric oxide and L-arginine.
So much of the buzz about improved nitric oxide production centers on L-arginine. Unfortunately, many forget about L-citrulline. While L-arginine is the main amino acid used by the endothelial cells to create nitric oxide, some feel that L-citrulline is actually more important for long term nitric oxide production and improved cardiovascular health.
I bring this to your attention because I’m in the process of developing an educational module designed to help those with sickle cell anemia. One complication for those who have sickle cell anemia is the negative effects of the enzyme arginase.
Arginase is an enzyme located primarily in the liver. It is used to help complete the fifth and final step in the urea cycle. This urea cycle helps your body dispose of harmful ammonia. It is also found in the kidneys and prostate. Some research indicates that arginase is located in the mitochondria of most cells. The mitochondria are the portions of your cells that produce the bulk of your energy.
Arginase and Circulation!
While arginase has a useful role in the body it can also play a negative role in circulation. Why? Because arginase destroys L-arginine. Your endothelial cells convert the amino acid L-arginine to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the master signaling molecule of your cardiovascular system. It regulates blood pressure, helps to improve blood flow, keeps blood platelet cells from sticking together, prevents LDL cholesterol from adhering to the vascular walls and is a factor in a host of other very important health issues.
Everyone carries arginase in their bloodstream which can have some affect on lowering nitric oxide production. This is a bigger problem in the African American community especially for those with sickle cell disease. Thankfully, your body has an alternative pathway that enables the endothelial cells to create nitric oxide. It’s through the amino acid L-citrulline.
How Important is L-citrulline?
Well, let me introduce you to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro to answer that question. Dr. Ignarro is the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Medicine. He, and two other American researchers, were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery of how the endothelial cells create nitric oxide (NO) from the essential amino acid L-arginine. In Dr. Ignarro’s book, NO More Heart Disease, he makes the following statement:
“My research shows that if you take only L-arginine, which is the dominant producer of NO, you will not receive the maximum benefit. I have found that by including the synergistic partner L-citrulline, your ability to boost NO production is greatly enhanced over the effects of L-arginine alone.”
Your endothelial cells use an alternative pathway to convert L-citrulline to nitric oxide. This helps bypass the arginase enzyme so that good nitric oxide production can be restored. Plus, L-citrulline provides a 24 to 36 hour window for enhanced nitric oxide production whereas L-arginine by itself usually only has a 30 minute to 2 hour window of enhanced nitric oxide production.
This means that L-arginine can help start the process of nitric oxide production to improve circulation. Then the L-citrulline can take over to continue the improved nitric oxide production helping to maintain improved circulation.
Dr. Ignarro goes on to say, “Any supplement program that does not contain L-citrulline and antioxidants to augment the L-arginine – and most on the market do not – is missing out on a major piece of the potential of NO to improve your cardiovascular health.” This statement and the information I shared so far leads to two important questions:
What foods contain L-arginine and L-citrulline?
Is it better to get these critical amino acids through food or supplementation?
I’m preparing two new videos to help answers these questions and to visibly show you the best and most effective method for enhanced nitric oxide production. But the first question brings me back to the picture of the watermelon.
In March of 2007 there was a study published in the Journal of Nutrition. The article was entitled “Watermelon consumption increases plasma arginine concentrations in adults.” This article created a significant buzz on the internet because L-arginine is needed to produce nitric oxide which is needed for a male erection. In the media, watermelon became the new and natural Viagra. While this study didn’t examine the effects on male anatomy it did provide some very important information confirming the body’s ability to convert L-citrulline to L-arginine to improve nitric oxide production.
The study subjects were given either 780 grams (equivalent of 1 g of citrulline) of watermelon or 1560 grams (equivalent of 2 g of citrulline) of watermelon. The study lasted three weeks. At the end of the study the 780 grams of watermelon group saw a 12% increase in fasting plasma arginine concentrations. The 1560 grams of watermelon group saw a 22% increase when compared to a control group that received no watermelon.
This clearly shows that your body has an alternative pathway for creating the necessary L-arginine from the amino acid L-citrulline.
So, is eating watermelon an effective way to improve nitric oxide production?
Well, the 780 grams of watermelon is equal to 1.72 pounds. The 1560 grams of watermelon is equal to 3.43 pounds. That’s a lot of watermelon to eat even if you like it. Plus, it includes the rind, that thick green outer covering of the watermelon. I believe there’s an easier way to achieve an even better result. I’ll show you in one of my upcoming videos.
Together we can work to save a million lives!