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Sources of Citrulline

By Amy Pellegrini

Citrulline is a type of non-essential amino acid that is formed from the amino acid ornithine and participates in the synthesis of urea, according to Citrulline plays an important role in the nitrogen and metabolic processes within the body, and is primarily synthesized from glutamine in the intestines. Citrulline can also be supplied by the diet and upon digestion, is efficiently absorbed from the stomach, where it enters into the bloodstream and then into the liver. The substance is then circulated among the kidneys, brain, muscle and other tissues for conversion into another amino acid, arginine. Talk to your doctor to find out more about citrulline and its food sources.


Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service, or ARS, found that watermelon contains high amounts of various immune-boosting antioxidants, including lycopene and the amino acid citrulline, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture. Watermelon’s source of citrulline is useful for the body for making arginine, another vital amino acid, which assists in cell division, healing wounds and removing ammonia from the body. Eating watermelon regularly helps to increase levels of citrulline and arginine, which may be beneficial for people suffering from high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels.


Citrulline is not a part of any major proteins or enzymes, but does help produce energy for the body and maintain a healthy immune system, according to Citrulline is formed in the urea cycle, which allows it to become the amino acid, arginine, which is important in maintaining the homeostasis of various toxicities in the body. Since arginine is vital in the formation of urea in the liver, it is important to obtain adequate amounts of citrulline from dietary sources to assist in removing excessive nitrogen build-up and to support digestion, absorption, and metabolic processes of certain proteins. Citrulline is naturally present in a number of protein food sources, including milk, legumes, meats, and fish. Consult your health-care provider for a complete list of high-protein sources of citrulline.


Citrulline is an amino acid that is also derived from specific vegetable sources such as garlic and onions, according to the iHealth Directory. Eating these vegetables regularly allows the body to regulate the nitrogen balance in the bloodstream to help the circulatory system bring more blood and oxygen to the body. While citrulline malate is also sold as a nutritional supplement to improve muscle fatigue, it can be adequately obtained through food sources. Consult your health-care provider for information about taking citrulline supplements if dietary options do not work for you.

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