Arginine is a non-essential amino acid (building blocks of protein); non-essential as it can be synthesized within the body from the amino acids obtained from the dietary sources and therefore is not required directly through the diet. Arginine produces a gas nitric oxide, which enhances the functioning of the blood vessels, allowing the heart to receive adequate oxygen. Hence, it may be beneficial for heart patients especially in angina (chest pain, which results from inadequate blood supply to the heart due to the clogging of the blood vessels supplying the heart) patients.
In a recent study on 30 angina patients it was found that the group which was kept on a medical food bar having Arginine and vitamins showed an increase in blood flow and their exercise capacity; it also improved their quality of life.
Some studies also suggest that Arginine may help regulate the cholesterol levels in the body. Arginine also appears to have a natural blood-thinning effect, hence decreasing clot formation within the blood vessels.
These findings suggest that Arginine may help to improve blood flow to the heart in angina patients and therefore improve their quality of life. However, researchers suggest that it would be useful to conduct bigger studies to examine the effect of Arginine, in combination with vitamins, in people with angina.