Citrulline – properties, sources and use of the amino acid

The name citrulina comes from the Latin name citrullus, which in translation means … watermelon. Citruline is rarely spoken of as an amino acid, hence the knowledge of the average consumer about it is relatively limited. It has no protein building function (it is an endogenous amino acid, that is, the body can synthesize it itself), but it has a number of important functions in the body. 

In connection with its functions, the amino acid is more and more often used for the production of dietary supplements and medicinal products counteracting, among others arterial hypertension, muscle weakness, dementia, urea cycle disruption, cardiovascular system protection, increased levels of nitric oxide, increased exercise capacity and training power (promotes blood supply to muscle tissue), alleviation of muscular pain (soreness), increased production of growth hormone. Citrulline can be very helpful in erectile dysfunction caused by high blood pressure. Positively affects libido, acting as an aphrodisiac. 

The composition of dietary supplements mainly include l-citrulline malate and citrulline. The first form is a combination of the amino acid and malic acid. It is very soluble in water and has relatively high chemical stability. 


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Citruline – the precursor of arginine 

Citrulline is an amino acid used by the body to produce arginine. Arginine, in turn, supporting the production of nitric oxide, leads to the expansion of blood vessels and increases blood flow to the muscles. Supplementation of citrulline, instead of arginine, is justified – citrulline finally leads to a greater saturation in the body with arginine than direct supplementation with arginine, because when introduced into the body, it converts in the kidneys increasing its plasma level for a longer period of time. Arginine supplementation, in contrast to citrulline, can also cause so-called Oxidative stress. 

Citrulline is available in two forms – l-citrulline and citrulline malate. L-citrulline is a natural form of citrulline. The body produces it alone, but additional supplementation helps to gain additional benefits especially for athletes. L-citrulline through the expansion of blood vessels allows you to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. In addition, l-citrulline helps to remove ammonia from the blood appearing as a by-product of metabolic processes. To increase its effectiveness, you can combine supplementation with l-citrulline with glutathione. 

Citrulline malate 

Citrulline malate contains an apple molecule. Malic acid is involved in the energy production process called the tricarboxylic cycle. As a result, the use of the supplement will have the same benefits as for l-citrulline, but will additionally lead to an increase in energy levels. Citrulline malate is still a little explored component and although the studies are very promising, you should be careful about its use, not exceeding the doses recommended by the producer on the leaflet. 

Citrulline malate is an ionized form of malic acid. Takes part in energy transformations complementing the action of citrulline itself. According to the assurances of manufacturers of this type of preparations, the use of citrulline malate stimulates the synthesis of nitric oxide increasing the concentration of arginine in the body and improving exercise capacity and reducing fatigue. According to online leaflets, manufacturers base their position on the results of research, which consisted of taking by athletes 4-6 g of citrulline malate per day. In addition, citrulline malate leads to an increase in the pH value in the body, and this leads to a reduction in the amount of lactic acid, so the so-called sours are less painful. 

Supplement not for everyone 

At the same time, however, it must be remembered that due to the increase in the level of nitric oxide there is a strong dilation of the blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure. As a consequence, people who take medications for hypertension or other heart conditions should consult their attending physician before supplementing with citrulline malate or even citrulline itself. Citrulline-containing supplements have a similar effect to those that contain citrulline malate. Both components may interact in dangerous reactions with medicines used to treat hypertension. If the drugs for hypertension already contain citrulline, additional supplementation may lead to overdose. 

Citrulline may be included in other medicines, for example impotence, sickle-cell anemia and many other conditions. Therefore, the very fact of using pharmacotherapy requires consulting a doctor. 

Sources of citrulline in food 

The natural source of l-citrulline are all the watermelon color varieties, with the highest concentration in the yellow watermelon (3.5 mg / 1 g of watermelon). The most popular red variation is about 1 mg / 1 g. Citruline can also be found in cucumber (0.15 mg / 1 g), pumpkin, melon, cucurbit, exotic kiwano, cocoa beans, chocolate (especially in raw chocolate – raw and dark chocolate), liver, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, onions, garlic, chickpeas and salmon. 

Citruline – the guard of correct pressure 

Currently, her role in the diet is reduced to the function of a supplement that improves the process of muscle regeneration and building (in a large generalization). To get the effects mentioned by supplement manufacturers and scientists, you need to use a concentrated dose of citrulline or citrulline malate to further soothe sour. The doses of l-citrulline contained in the diet are much smaller, but thanks to it more safe. 

In the body, l-citrulline performs slightly different functions limited mainly to the production of arginine, which then leads to the increase of nitric oxide in the blood. A healthy diet based on vegetables and fruits rich in l-citrulline, helps to keep blood pressure in check. L-citrulline as a precursor to arginine protects normal blood pressure. Therefore, for the sake of cardiovascular health, it is worth remembering. A deficiency of citrulline promotes hypertension and may be manifested by muscle weakness. 


You can read also: Citrulline – improvement of the muscle pump

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