Foods that contain l arginine

Updated November 21, 2016

L-arginine is an semi-essential amino acid that aids pituitary-gland function, helps the body get rid of ammonia and can be converted into glucose and glycogen. Though this amino acid can be manufactured in the body, symptoms of arginine deficiency include skin rash, insufficient wound healing, hair loss and kidney problems. Find out what food can help you kidney functions, and see if you are experiencing low levels of arginine.


Generally, most people make enough l-arginine for their bodies to function. However, arginine has been found to benefit people with urea-synthesis disorders, chest pain, heart disease, anal fissures, insulin sensitivity and sperm production. This amino acid has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test growth-hormone levels in individuals with acromegaly, panhypopituitarism and gigantism. In addition, blood flow to the heart has been improved with arginine injections and supplements. Also, migraine-headaches sufferers have found relief when pairing arginine with ibuprofen. Mayo Clinic suggests that adults take 2-3 grams of arginine three times day for its optimal benefits. For those taking arginine for cardiovascular disease, doses of 6-10 grams are beneficial.

Nuts, Legumes and Vegetables

Nuts are a good source for arginine. The nuts with the highest arginine levels include Spanish peanuts, almonds, English walnuts, hazelnuts and cashews. Get arginine by eating legumes such as kidney beans, soybeans and French beans. Garlic and onions have the highest levels of arginine in the vegetable category.

Protein and Other Sources

Arginine can be found in proteins such as canned tuna, salmon, chicken, shrimp, eggs, pork and milk. Other foods with arginine include chocolate, oats, dairy products, sunflower seeds and brown rice.


The amino acid lysine will block the metabolism of arginine. If you take supplements or eat foods rich in lysine, you will prevent the healthy benefits of arginine. Refrain from eating lysine rich foods such as apricots, pears, figs, beets, avocados, tomatoes, beef, lamb and Brewer's yeast. Be sure to check your multivitamin to see if it contains lysine.

Asthma and Herpes

Avoid foods and supplements with arginine if you have asthma problems. Arginine can actually make asthma symptoms worse by adding to the inflammation to the lungs. Herpes uses arginine as a food source. If you have the virus, you should avoid foods with arginine and incorporate lysine supplements in food in your diet.

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