Amino acids to boost heart health and performance

amino acids to boost heart health, performance and longevity

Amino acids the building block of cells have many vital functions inside your body such as transportation molecules, energy production, producing antibodies and many more. Apart from other beneficial roles some amino acids really work like wonder to boost heart health and performance in exercise. Going through here you will know about the critical roles of these amino as well as safety concern.

Amino acids to boost heart health and performance


Taurine also described as “a wonder molecule” due to its broad and extensive benefits is the most abundant free amino acid found in very high concentrations in heart and muscle . In these tissues taurine involves in normal contractile function. (1,2)

Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country with average of 90 for women and 84 for men.(3) Study found in Okinawans a group of islands of Japan age at death ranged from 110 to 112 years. They had little clinical history of cardiovascular disease and reported no history of cancer or diabetes.(4) Apart from their high vegetable diet they also consumed fish and soy products. And interestingly evidence showed a common dietary intake in their food as amino acid taurine.(5)

From epidemiological evidences researchers suggest the importance of taurine in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, as a possible food factor that contributes to Japanese longevity. (6) In the WHO-CARDIAC study, it was shown that the urinary excretion of taurine and the mortality of ischemic heart disease are inversely related. (7)

Study also suggests that the taurine deficiency in heart can impir both systolic and diastolic function of heart.(1)Numerous experimental and several clinical studies demonstrated that taurine helps the cardiovascular system through a variety of mechanisms including an improved lipid profile, modulation of intra cellular calcium concentration, antioxidant effects and opposing free radicals generating Ang II action.(8) Studies also indicate taurine might enhance the capacity of doing exercise.(9,10) It also increases insulin action and thus improves glucose tolerance.(11)

However as in general taurine production declines with advancement of age.(12,13)

Food Source and daily dose of Taurine

Human body naturally produces taurine but that declines with age. It has strong evidence for the absence of adverse effects with a daily limit up to 3000 mg per day.(14) Food sources of taurine mainly includes sea foods, fish, meat and diary product and also human milk. (15) But it is challenging to obtain enough taurine from food source more specifically from vegan food sources.


Amino acid L-cartinine helps in transporting fats (long-chained fatty acids) to mitochondria to burn as energy. L-acrnitine has been found low in people with heart failure. It helps in several way in improving heart as well as cardiovascular function and also goes well with Coenzyme Q10. We discussed the roles of L-cartinine along with CoQ10 in our previous article L-Carnitine and CoQ10 combination for mitochondrial energy and heart health.

amino acids to boost heart health and performance


L-Arginine, a conditionally essential amino acid is the biological precursor of nitric oxide. Mostly athletic people use it as supplement. In the body, it changes into nitric oxide.(16) Nitric oxide has two crucial functions. It keeps the arterial lining smooth and slippery, preventing white blood cells and platelets from adhering on and causing damaging inflammation and artery-blocking blood clots. Additionally, it relaxes the smooth muscle cells of the artery wall’s, prevents spasms and keeps arteries open. (17) Thus nitric oxide gives protection against the progression of atherosclerosis.

L-Arginine has shown to improve nitric oxide dependent endothelial relaxation in individuals with cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, aging and many ordinary cardiovascular disorders.(18) An Umbrella Review of Meta-analysesindicates that use of L-arginine provides significant positive benefits for reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive adults. Similarly L-arginine had also reduced diastolic blood pressure in pregnant women with gestational hypertension.(19)

Also read foods to reduce high blood pressure.

According to the Mayo Clinic L-arginine supplementation may have beneficial effects on (20)

  • Angina. In reducing chest pain and improving quality of life in people.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension). In reducing high blood pressure or hypertension.
  • Erectile dysfunction. Cardiovascular dysfunction can also lead to impaired erectile function. Therefore L-arginine is also used commonly in the case of erectile dysfunction in men. Oral supplementation of L-arginine might improve sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction.

Conflict of interest

A study also raised concern that intestinal microbiota metabolism of dietary L-carnitine, a trimethylamine abundant in red meat, also produces TMAO or trimethylamine-N-oxide and which accelerates atherosclerosis. Omnivorous individuals had shown to produce significantly more TMAO than vegans or vegetarians with intake of L-carnitine through a microbiota-dependent mechanism. (21)

Food Source, daily dose and safety of L. Arginine

Although oral ingestion of L-arginine is generally considered safe, it might cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, gout, allergic response. L-arginine supplementation might also increase increase the risk of death after heart attack, worsen asthma. If you have cold sores or genital herpes, you should be careful about this.(20) Daily dose up to 1200 mg per day have been shown to be helpful. (22) However you should consult with your healthcare provider before supplementation.

Food sources include nuts, wild caught fish, meat, soy, whole grains, beans, dairy products like yoghurt, kefir, raw cheese, seeds like pumpkin seeds, seasame seeds, sunflower seeds, spirulina, seaweeds, sea vegetables and some others. You may also have considerable amount of L. arginine from food source.

Bottom Line

These amino acids can helps to human health in many ways. However problems occurs with some marketed supplements due to other additives come with them. As example many energy drink also contains caffeine, sugar and other additives along with taurine. And caffeine and sugar present in most energy drinks known to cause a variety of adverse health effects. On the other hand there’s no evidence for taurine’s involvement in adverse outcome of consuming energy drinks. (23, 24) Other issue like amino acid supplement might raise issue to people with kidney problem.(25) There are also other amino acids that contribute to longevity which I will include in my longevity plan. I also like to hear from you in these subjects.

Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for 
educational purpose only,  not intended to provide one to one health 
consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different 
people may have different health condition and may have different reaction 
to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care 
provider before application of any of above information
Source and references:
1. Stephen W Schaffer, Chian Ju Jong, Ramila KC, and  Junichi Azuma,
Physiological roles of taurine in heart and muscle,  J Biomed Sci. 2010; 
17(Suppl 1): S2   
2.Yukio Yamori, Takashi Taguchi, Atsumi Hamada,Kazuhiro Kunimasa,Hideki 
Mori,and  Mari Mori, Taurine in health and diseases: consistent evidence 
from experimental and epidemiological studies,  J Biomed Sci. 2010; 
17(Suppl 1): S6  
4. Willcox DC, Willcox BJ, Wang NC, He Q, Rosenbaum M, Suzuki M., Life at 
the extreme limit: phenotypic characteristics of supercentenarians in 
Okinawa, J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2008 Nov;63(11):1201-8
5. Yukio Yamori, Food factors for atherosclerosis prevention: Asian 
perspective derived from analyses of worldwide dietary biomarkers,  Exp 
Clin Cardiol. 2006 Summer; 11(2): 94–98 
6. Yamori Y, Liu L, Mori M, Sagara M, Murakami S, Nara Y, Mizushima S.,  
Taurine as the nutritional factor for the longevity of the Japanese 
revealed by a world-wide epidemiological survey,  Adv Exp Med Biol. 
7.Verena Hiebl, Angela Ladurner, Simone Latkolik, Verena M. Dirsch, Natural 
products as modulators of the nuclear receptors and metabolic sensors LXR, 
FXR and RXR, Biotechnology Advances 36 (2018) 1657–1698 
8. Yan-Jun Xu, Amarjit S Arneja, Paramjit S Tappia, and  Naranjan S Dhalla,
The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease, Exp 
Clin Cardiol. 2008 Summer; 13(2): 57–65 
9. Balshaw TG, Bampouras TM, Barry TJ, Sparks SA.,  The effect of acute 
taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance 
runners,Amino Acids. 2013 Feb;44(2):555-61
10. Zhang M, Izumi I, Kagamimori S, Sokejima S, Yamagami T, Liu Z, Qi B,
Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative 
stress in healthy young men,Amino Acids. 2004 Mar;26(2):203-7. Epub  2003 
May 9.
11. Nandhini AT. Anuradha CV. Taurine modulates kallikrein activity and 
glucose metabolism in insulin resistant rats. Amino Acids. 2002;22(1):27-38       
12.Bianca Maria Scicchitano and  Gigliola Sica, The Beneficial Effects of 
Taurine to Counteract Sarcopenia, Curr Protein Pept Sci. 2018 Jul; 19(7): 
13.Cañas PE, Valenzuela A.,[Biological and nutritional role of taurine and 
its derivatives on cellular and organic physiology],  Arch Latinoam Nutr. 
1991 Jun;41(2):139-51
14. Shao A, Hathcock JN., Risk assessment for the amino acids taurine, L-
glutamine and L-arginine, Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2008 Apr;50(3):376-99     
18.Rosinha IM, Teixeira VH, Costa OP (2016) Nitric Oxide/Arginine: Is 
Cardiovascular Modulation Effects in Athletes Supplementation? Sports Nutr 
Ther 1: 118. doi: 10.4172/2473-6449.1000118 
19.Marc P. McRae,Therapeutic Benefits of l-Arginine: An Umbrella Review of 
Meta-analyses, J Chiropr Med. 2016 Sep; 15(3): 184–189 
21. Robert A. Koeth et al.,Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-carnitine, 
a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis, Nat Med. 2013 May; 19(5): 
23. Clauson KA, Shields KM, McQueen CE, Persad N.,  Safety issues 
associated with commercially available energy drinks,  J Am Pharm Assoc 
(2003). 2008 May-Jun;48(3):e55-63; quiz e64-7.
24. Wolk BJ, Ganetsky M, Babu KM. Toxicity of energy drinks. Curr Opin 
Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):243-51.  
25. Suliman ME, Bárány P, Filho JC, Lindholm B, Bergström J.,  Accumulation 
of taurine in patients with renal failure, Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2002 
Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


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