What Are the Benefits of L-citrulline?

Everyone’s favorite summer fruit—the watermelon! Whether it is eaten alone or with delicious types of seasoning, the watermelon is a staple of the classic American summer. This juicy and sweet fruit has been touted for its myriad of health benefits such as hydration and lowering stress. However, watermelons are also home to a lesser known supplement called l-citrulline. Nowadays, there are supplements and vitamins that exist for every type of person and problem, with l-citrulline included.

Many of these, such as l-citrulline, are found naturally within the body and other organic products and are marketed in order to assist people that have vitamin deficiency. This neat little amino acid has many health benefits of its own, ranging from hypertension to erectile dysfunction. Although it is produced organically by the human body, it

can also be found in many different external forms. L-citrulline’s  presence is not limited to summery watermelons, and it can be found in autumn’s favorite seasonally aesthetic foods such as gourds and pumpkins. If any of these foods aren’t to your liking, or you have a specific food allergy, you can buy l-citrulline supplements at your local grocery or drug store!

Key Takeaways:

  • L-citrulline is a safe supplement that can be utilized in order to treat a variety of issues—including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease, fatigue, vasodilation (the widening of arteries and veins), reduced blood pressure, exercise performance (both endurance and weight training), and erectile dysfunction in men.
  •  L-citrulline should not be taken by women who are pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • This supplement can have potentially negative interactions with prescription medications, which is important to monitor if you take medications for blood pressure and erectile dysfunction.

What is l-citrulline?

L-citrulline is a naturally occurring amino acid produced naturally by the human body. First discovered in watermelons, the name of the product comes from the Latin word for the fruit, “citrullus.” Considered a nonessential amino acid, the body eventually converts it into an important supplement called l-arginine. Its versatility gives it an important role within the body, as it helps the rest of the bodily systems form proteins. It is related but not the same as citrulline malate, which is a combination of l-citrulline and a similar compound called malate.  

L-citrulline has many different benefits and is an important element in removing urea from the body, which is eventually eliminated through urination. Although the body produces it internally, you can also consume l-citrulline through foods such as watermelons, pumpkins, bitter melons, and gourds, or through over-the-counter supplements. Its versatility and positive benefits make it an easy supplement to get your hands on.

What are the benefits of l-citrulline?

There are many benefits to consuming l-citrulline. Ingesting it increases the amount of nitric oxide produced throughout the body, which in turn produces blood flow. An improved movement of blood helps the arteries to relax and become more productive, which can be extremely beneficial for people living with prehypertension. L-citrulline can also be helpful for men experiencing mild-to-moderate erectile dysfunction, as it boosts blood circulation throughout the body.

However, it is important to note that—much like l-citrulline—medications for male sexual dysfunction (such as Viagra or Cialis) also reduce blood pressure and they should not be taken in combination with each other in order to prevent potentially dangerous interactions. It has also been known to improve exercise performance. In regards to endurance training, l-citrulline increases the oxygen content in muscles, which allowed one cyclist to bike for 12% longer than normal. Its sister supplement, citrulline malate, helped bodybuilders engage in more exercise repetitions than normal. In addition to these benefits, l-citrulline has multiple other health benefits, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease

How much should I take?

The amount of l-citrulline you should take varies and is based on exactly why you are taking it. In order to see benefits of l-citrulline for exercise performance, it is recommended to consume between 2.5 to 5 grams of l-citrulline for a week. Using it in combination with 1.2 grams of another supplement, l-arginine, has been known to be beneficial as well. If you are consuming l-citrulline to help with heart disease, the suggested dosage is 3 grams per day for up to four consistent months. Make sure to consult with your doctor before beginning any dosage of l-citrulline to prevent dangerous interactions.

A man holding three pills.
L-citrulline is a very safe supplement that can be beneficial to your health if taken appropriately and consistently. Image courtesy of mamadoctors.com.  

So, is it safe?

Overall, yes. However, it is branded and distributed as an herbal supplement instead of a medication and therefore not FDA approved. Although rare, it should be noted that there are a few side effects that can occur after taking l-citrulline, which include nausea, heartburn, cough, changes in urination, and swelling. As with any other supplement or additive, it should be used under the supervision of a health care professional and with caution. It should not be used as a substitution for male sexual performance medications without the recommendation from a doctor.

Should I take l-citrulline?

L-citrulline can be a very beneficial resource. If you are considering taking l-citrulline, talk to your primary care physician if you think it could help you. Overall, it is a very safe supplement that can easily be added to your dietary routine through either supplements or certain foods. In order to see the benefits of l-citrulline through a dietary route, include more watermelon, pumpkin, cucumber, melon, and gourds in your diet. The supplement capsules of l-citrulline are available in grocery and dollar stores.

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