Ornithine – Definition, Facts, Functions, Uses, Health Benefits, Food Sources, And Side Effects

Facts

It is a non-essential amino acid and is produced by the body.

Arginine is metabolized during urea production and is needed by the body as it acts as a precursor of citrulline, glutamic acid, and proline.

Another primary role of this non-essential amino acid is being an intermediate in amino acid arginine biosynthesis, although this is due to its role in the urea cycle (responsible for the production of urea).

Also, this non-essential amino acid is not directly incorporated into proteins and enzymes and does not have a codon in the genetic code.

Uses and health benefits of ornithine

In clinical studies on people hospitalized for surgery, generalized infections, cancer, burns, or trauma, supplementation with OKG (ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate) has been reported to produce several health beneficial effects.

A double-blind trial evaluated the beneficial effects of OKG supplementation in elderly people recovering from acute illnesses. The individuals who took 10 grams of OKG per day for 2 months had marked improvement in weight gain, stamina, appetite, and quality of life in comparison with those taking the placebo. They also had faster recovery periods and required fewer home visits by doctors and nurses and needed fewer medications.

Moreover, a supplement with this amino acid may be used in detoxifying cells from harmful ammonia buildup that ultimately can slow down the aging process and helps the liver function.

Improves strength and energy

Research suggests that consuming this amino acid can help promote physical strength and endurance. For instance, a study published in 2008 issue of „Nutrition Research” established that healthy individuals who took extra L-ornithine experienced less exercise-induced fatigue than a placebo group.

The authors of a study concluded that this amino acid promotes more efficient energy usage by cells, and they suggest it as a nutritional supplement to counteract fatigue.

Home remedy for anxiety

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect about 18.1% of adults in the US (around 40 million individuals between the ages of 18 to 54). There are numerous symptoms of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and specific phobias. Recent research found that the amino acid crossed the blood-brain barrier (a highly selective semipermeable membrane barrier which separates the circulating blood from the brain extracellular fluid in the central nervous system) and reduced anxiety-like behavior.

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Better sleep

It is a relaxing amino acid which helps your body to eliminate ammonia in the colon (too much ammonia in the colon causes stressful feelings), thereby improving sleep quality. Insomnia is the most frequent specific sleep disorder, short-term term problems reported by approximately 30 percent of people and chronic insomnia by 10 percent. The promotion of regular sleep and good sleep habits is known as sleep hygiene. Here are some recommended tips regarding sleep hygiene – avoid large meals before bedtime, go to bed at the same time each night, avoid nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine, close to bedtime.

Food sources of ornithine

It is predominantly found in meat, dairy, eggs, peanuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, soybeans, navy beans, adzuki beans, mung beans. red kidney beans, sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, yams, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Side effects of ornithine

No side effects have been recorded with the use of this amino acid, except for gastrointestinal distress with intakes over ten grams/day.

The presence of the amino acid arginine is needed to produce it in the body, so higher levels of arginine should increase ornithine production.

There are not enough reliable studies about the safety of taking this non-essential amino acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Dosage

Therapeutic dosages of it range from 10 to 30 grams per day. These higher dosages are usually used for accelerated healing of burns, wounds and recovering from an infection.

Before taking nutritional supplements of L-ornithine, consult your doctor before using.

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