Here’s another reason to consume watermelon with plenty of gusto – other than tasty relief on a hot day – it is a food known for its abundance of the amino acid L-citrulline, which does many things well. One of those is to boost the body’s production of nitric oxide, which works to enhance blood flow by helping your arteries to relax and function more efficiently.
Per webmd.com, because of its properties, not only does L-citrulline have the potential to help lower blood pressure in people with prehypertension, it has shown usefulness in treating or preventing a variety of diseases. Also, while it might not be as potent as Viagra is when it comes to treating the symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED), it can help and is at least considered a safe option in that regard. By the way, L-citrulline can also be found in such foods as squash, melons, cucumber, and pumpkin, per selfhacked.com.
Scientifically speaking, L-citrulline is an amino acid considered “nonessential,” and that’s because your body can manufacture it on its own, although it is readily available as a nutritional supplement. Unlike a number of other amino acids, though, it does not factor in the building of proteins. What it can do is significantly contribute to the urea cycle, the process by which your body expels harmful compounds, with the final part of the cycle involving the removal of ammonia via your urine.
The other two amino acids involved in the urea cycle are L-arginine and L-ornithine. An interesting side note about L-citrulline is its highly specific metabolism, per National Institutes of Health (NIH), in that it bypasses splanchnic extraction (retention by the gut and liver for their own needs, per citrage.com) because it is not used by the intestine or taken up by the liver.
A Summary of L-Citrulline’s Key Health Benefits
We’ve already briefly touched on some of the healthful properties of L-citrulline, and now let’s dive in deeper to explore all that L-citrulline can apparently do, to include possibly playing a part in improved exercise or athletic performance. As always, be sure to take any questions you might have to your physician before making L-citrulline a regular part of your diet regimen:
- Reduce fatigue and muscle soreness. Per selfhacked.com, a study involving 18 male subjects showed that L-citrulline increases ATP levels and decreased fatigue, with the reduction in fatigue showing up after exercise. One thing L-citrulline does is ramp up creatine phosphate production, providing energy reserves to your muscles.
- Relieve intestinal issues. Animal research cited at webmd.com seemed to indicate that the amino acid can help treat health issues such as short bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and small bowel damage caused by radiation. Among other disease-related conditions that L-citrulline can target include liver disease – among other genetic disorders and health conditions – Parkinson’s disease and several forms of dementia.
- Vasodilation. This is what we touched on earlier relative to improved blood flow. Vasodilation, which L-citrulline can help with, involves the widening of arteries, blood vessels, and veins, increasing blood flow and possibly helping with reducing blood pressure. The process actually involves the consumption of L-citrulline, which is then converted to the amino acid arginine, which is then transformed into nitric oxide, which carries out the vasodilation thus lowering high blood pressure, per healthline.com.
- Build muscles. Despite L-citrulline not being involved in the actual process of building proteins, it can enhance protein synthesis through its stimulation of an important signaling pathway that plays a part in the body’s building of muscle. Per a study cited by NIH, citrulline ingestion was able to strengthen mixed muscle protein synthesis during a three-day, low-protein intake involving healthy test subjects.
- Erectile dysfunction. A study of two dozen men over the age of 55 found that L-citrulline alleviated the symptoms of ED and bolstered the hardness of erections, with some of the men reporting more sexual activity after treatment along with more satisfaction, per selfhacked.com.
- Increase immunity. This was apparently borne out in a study involving 17 male cyclists who supplemented with L-citrulline before workouts and demonstrated an enhanced ability to fight infection, per selfhacked.com.