Arginine is sometimes referred to as an essential amino acid and, at other times, it’s referred to as nonessential. This confusion happens because most of the time, your body can manufacture Arginine, so you don’t need to obtain it through your diet, but other times, you do! This is why it is considered to be conditionally essential.
An example of when you do need to obtain it in your diet is in the case of severe injury or illness. For instance, arginine plays an important role in cell division, the healing of wounds, and the release of hormones. It is also useful in enhancing the immune system. For this reason, Arginine might be important for people suffering from AIDS and other diseases that suppress the immune system. Arginine is also known to increase blood flow to the penis, making it a potential “natural” Viagra® and has also been used in treating sterility in men by increasing sperm count [I].
Plant sources: almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, lentils, chick peas, kidney beans, garlic, onion, seaweed, spirulina (a type of algae), buckwheat, oatmeal
Glutamine – The Ultimate Gut Healer
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the human body. It is found in large amounts in your body’s muscles. Since it easily passes through the blood-brain barrier, Glutamine is known as a super-fuel for your brain! Glutamine also serves as a source of fuel for the cells that line your intestines. By nourishing these cells, glutamine helps keep your digestive system healthy, which makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. It is often used to heal the gut of those with leaky gut or digestive issues [II]. Glutamine also reduces healing time after operations and for burn victims. Cancer and other diseases or injuries can cause a person to have a glutamine shortage. Unfortunately, chemotherapy and radiation therapy used to treat cancer often make this shortage worse. Therefore, Glutamine is sometimes described as a conditionally essential amino acid because it may need to be supplemented during times of injury or illness.
[I] Scibona M, Meschini P, Capparelli S, Pecori C, Rossi P, Menchini Fabris GF. “L-Arginine and Male Infertility”. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 1994 Dec; 46(4):251-3. Web. May. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7701414>.
[II] Robert Rapin J, Wiernsperger N. “Possible Links between Intestinal Permeablity and Food Processing: A Potential Therapeutic Niche for Glutamine”. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun; 65(6): 635–643. Web. May 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2898551/>.