When it comes to the regulation of physiological processes of the human body, each component is important and plays an integral role. Out of many of those necessary compounds, citrulline has gained much recognition in recent years due to the valuable benefits that it has to offer.
Amino acids are the fundamental component of proteins that have a pivotal role in the body. They are usually characterized as essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The latter is found in many organs and manufactured by the human body, whereas essential amino acids need to be taken from foods or supplements.
Citrulline is a major non-essential amino acid produced in the body as a by-product of many important reactions. It also occurs naturally in many foods and can also be taken in the form of supplements. Recent studies have highlighted citrulline as one of the most important substrates due to its active role in the body.
Citrulline supplementation has shown positive results in ill patients and the severe conditions of malnutrition. Apart from that, citrulline also works its magic in improving athletic performance and exercise endurance. Its major role is identified in nitric oxide synthesis, which is necessary for improving blood flow through the body.
In the body, citrulline is produced by the urea cycle. After that, the liver usually converts it to another product, arginine, which gets converted to nitric oxide. The manufactured product further works in another cycle, and then citrulline is again produced in the body.
A person experiencing any genetic disorder or hepatic disease should get enough citrulline supplements so that all body processes can work accordingly. The supplementation may help you to manage the accurate levels of citrulline in the body.
The following article will explain the benefits and role of citrulline in the body in major organ systems.
Positive Impacts of Citrulline Backed by Research
The role of citrulline in the body has been under study for quite a long time. Researchers are analyzing its role in different systems. According to these in-depth studies, it has been proved that citrulline has an integral role in the body. So it is necessary to have tolerable citrulline levels during all times for the smooth working of systems.
Some of these positive impacts are discussed below:
1. Improvement in Exercise Performance
A study was conducted on 25 people who had no history of cardiovascular disease or other pulmonary diseases. The purpose of this experimentation was to find the effect of citrulline supplementation on exercise performance. All participants were given citrulline supplementation for two weeks, and after the end of the dose, researchers calculated the results.
The results showed that citrulline has an excellent tendency to improve exercise performance. The participants performed better in their regular exercise, and their endurance was also increased because of supplementation. They also showed an improvement in the blood flow to the muscles.
Consuming citrulline as a pre-exercise food will help you to perform your exercises better. It is better to have a citrulline whether you are doing a cardio workout or training your muscles by using some weights.
2. Management of Blood Pressure
Citrulline is important for regulating the nitric oxide cycle that manages blood pressure and relaxation of the smooth muscles in the body. Nitric oxide helps veins and arteries to dilate, which accounts for the uninterrupted delivery of blood and nutrients to all body organs.
According to research, the supplementation of citrulline has helped in reducing and managing blood pressure. The possible mechanisms for citrulline in managing blood pressure might be an increase in NO synthesis. The direct action of citrulline in the relaxation of smooth muscles is also observed.
Research has also proved that citrulline also plays an active role in the uptake of oxygen. Citrulline thus is beneficial for people who are at risk of hypertension or fall in the early stages of hypertension.
3. Excellent Pre-Exercise Supplement
Watermelon is one of the most effective food sources of citrulline. Consuming it before exercise has shown excellent results in all aspects. The study on 22 participants emphasized having citrulline supplements or recommended portions of watermelon juice alone before exercise to assess its role on vascular muscles and performance.
The participants were given citrulline dose one to two hours before exercises so that the time it needs for absorption is calculated as well. The results from this experimentation showed an improved performance in exercise due to citrulline supplementation. However, the research recommended increasing the dose for much better results.
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4. Controlling Cardiovascular Diseases
Cardiovascular diseases often occur due to a lack of certain nutrients or a disturbance in normal physiological processes. L-arginine is an amino acid that plays an active role in the NO cycle.
Having the normal amount of citrulline in the diet makes sure to have enough arginine. The further processes also ensure citrulline production in the body, which is then taken up by organs.
The nitric oxide cycle easily controls vascular diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, and heart failure. Therefore, it is proved by research that citrulline plays an integral role in controlling various cardiovascular diseases. Citrulline produces more arginine in the body, which further helps in increasing nitric oxide.
Citrulline supplementation also has many other therapeutic effects on the body and has helped maintain adequate levels of all other amino acids.
5. Beneficial in Sickle Cell Disease
The main cause of sickle cell disease is the mutation in one or more amino acids. Supplementation of citrulline has a prominent role in reducing the severity and symptoms of sickle cell disease. Arginine is the compound that helps maintain adequate levels of white blood cells and increases neutrophil levels within a normal limit.
The improvements in the symptoms of the disease were seen in wide populations under study. The research explains that citrulline is a precursor of arginine, which actively manages sickle cell disease.
If adequate citrulline levels are not maintained, arginine production will be affected, which will become a problem for patients with sickle cell disease. They should be given adequate levels of citrulline which will help in increasing immunity in them as well.
6. Helps to Delay Fatigue
Citrulline is considered an important pre-exercise component. Consuming it will help you to delay the onset of fatigue in athletes. The mechanism which works here is that citrulline helps in reducing the amount of ammonia from the body. Ammonia leads to early exhaustion and reduces the length of exercises.
An experiment was conducted on mice to check the effect of citrulline supplementation in delaying fatigue onset. Mice under study showed improved exercise performance and altered ammonia and lactate levels in the muscles, thus delaying the fatigue to the maximum extent.
The study shows that citrulline might be helpful for athletes as they can then exercise for longer times without any exhaustion. It can also help in detoxifying ammonia from the body.
7. Positive Role in Short Bowel Syndrome
Short bowel syndrome is a serious condition in which a person has to face multiple episodes of malnutrition and severe weight loss. Muscle wasting is a common phenomenon that is a typical symptom in patients with short bowel syndrome.
A study was designed to check the effect of citrulline in rats with short bowel syndrome. The results showed that citrulline supplementation helps preserve muscle mass and control weight. The rats under study did not have any weight change when administered a controlled dose of citrulline.
The study exceptionally proved that citrulline is helpful in patients with short bowel syndrome. It also helps increase various important amino acids in the body, preserving lean muscle mass.
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Sources of Citrulline
Citrulline is commonly available in many foods. People who are at severe risk of disease should consume adequate levels of citrulline via supplementation. The food and supplements will help control various body systems and regulate critical processes in the body. Some of the common options available are as follows:
The primary mode to have enough citrulline in the body is via food. Many food options can help to maintain normal levels of citrulline, such as:
The most important source of citrulline is watermelon. It can be taken as a snack in daily meals or as a supplement before exercise in juice. Watermelon also has several B vitamins in them. Eating it will help in the management of blood pressure and various other cardiometabolic diseases.
Almonds are another source of citrulline. Apart from that, almonds are considered healthy fat, which can help regulate many processes in the body, such as controlling heart diseases and improving skin. The daily serving size of almonds, six almonds per day, will maintain a citrulline level in the body.
Dark chocolate, along with many healthy nutrients, also has a great amount of citrulline in it. If you are thinking of alternate ways to enhance citrulline in the body, then dark chocolate is what you need. It is also a healthy choice that does not have any effect on disturbing blood sugar levels.
Consuming soy will provide your body with maximum citrulline levels and help fight a deficiency if present. Soy also has a healthy protein in it. So if you are on your health journey, you can have soy as it will serve many practical benefits.
Cucumbers are also a good choice to consider while maintaining levels of citrulline in the body. It is one of the easiest ways to meet the daily levels of citrulline. They also have important minerals and vitamins in them and so can be consumed without any inconvenience.
Supplements also help you to maintain normal levels of citrulline. It is important to consume a supplement that is also a source of many other important amino acids. Supplements come with many important precautions which need to be considered in any situation, such as the following:
L-citrulline is important for many physiological processes. Make sure to have a supplement that comes with an appropriate dosage amount. The pre-workout powder by DMoose has a combination of other important amino acids, creatine monohydrates, and many minerals and is an excellent exercise supplement.
Always opt for a supplement that comes with many other nutrients as well.
The dosage requirement for citrulline varies depending on the target that you are trying to achieve. The recommended dosage of citrulline is 6-8 grams and should be adjusted as per requirement. For preventing diseases, the supplementation is increased for a specific period. For improving exercise performance, 6g of citrulline is best to use.
Citrulline is an important and non-essential amino acid that works as a precursor for controlling various processes in the body. It plays an integral role in nitric oxide synthesis, which promotes vasodilation in the body. Citrulline is also essential in controlling heart diseases, sickle cell disease, and improving athletic performance.
It is necessary to maintain normal citrulline levels in the body by consuming specific foods and taking supplements. The dosage requirement and the amount you need depend on the condition that you are experiencing. Depending on each goal, the recommended amount is adjusted.
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- Waugh, W. H., et al. “Oral Citrulline as Arginine Precursor May Be Beneficial in Sickle Cell Disease: Early Phase Two Results.” Journal of the National Medical Association, vol. 93, no. 10, Oct. 2001, pp. 363–71.
- Takeda, Kohei, et al. “Effects of Citrulline Supplementation on Fatigue and Exercise Performance in Mice.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, vol. 57, no. 3, 2011, pp. 246–50. J-Stage, https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.57.246.
- Filippi, Jerome, et al. “Dose-Dependent Beneficial Effects of Citrulline Supplementation in Short Bowel Syndrome in Rats.” Nutrition, vol. 85, May 2021, p. 111118. ScienceDirect, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2020.111118.