L-Arginine & Zinc

L-arginine is an important amino acid that your body uses for making proteins and other functions, such as wound healing and immune system support. It is considered a semi-essential nutrient, meaning that your body usually makes enough L-arginine to meet its daily requirements, though some individuals may need to take supplements. Zinc, meanwhile, is an essential mineral that is required for many different processes, chiefly those that involve cell metabolism. It is obtained primarily through your diet, since your body is unable to manufacture zinc on its own.

Function of Zinc

Zinc plays several critical roles in your body, the Office of Dietary Supplements explains 2. It is needed for the activity of around a hundred different enzymes, and is also used to make new cells and synthesize DNA. Getting enough zinc is especially critical for mothers during pregnancy, since fetuses need it for proper growth and development. It is also required for maintaining a healthy immune system, ensuring proper wound repair, and retaining a normal sense of taste and smell. Because your body doesn’t produce or store zinc, you need to get it daily from your diet.

Function of L-Arginine

L-arginine is one of the 20 most common amino acids in the human body. It plays a vital role in cell division, as well as in the hormone-release process. This makes it important for swift and proper healing of injuries, especially to bone; ammonia removal; and proper immune system operation, as MedlinePlus Supplements notes. Because it causes blood vessels to dilate, L-arginine is also used to treat several cardiovascular conditions such as angina, hypertension, clogged arteries and coronary heart disease. Usually, your body produces enough L-arginine to meet your needs; therefore, there is no recommended daily amount for this nutrient.


Symptoms of L-arginine deficiency include skin rash, hair loss and constipation, MayoClinic.com notes. Other, more serious signs include impaired or delayed wound healing, which can be significant for patients recovering from burns or infections. Liver functioning may also be affected due to fat accumulation. Groups at risk for L-arginine deficiency include those with excessive lysine intake or ammonia production, patients with burns or sepsis, and those with inadequate protein in their diets.

A zinc deficiency may also have serious consequences, especially for growing infants and children, as the Office of Dietary Supplements explains 2. These include retarded growth, weakened immune system, delayed sexual maturation, impotence, eye and skin lesions, loss of appetite, mental lethargy, and delayed wound healing. Groups at risk for deficiency include vegetarians, pregnant and lactating women, alcoholics, sickle-cell patients, and patients with gastrointestinal disorders.

Dietary Sources

There are many possible dietary sources that naturally contain l-arginine. These include dairy products and animal-based foods made from pork, beef, poultry and seafood. Nuts and whole grains, such are walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, barley, corn and wheat, are good sources, as well. Zinc, on the other hand, can be obtained from certain types of seafood, such as oysters, lobsters and crab, as well as poultry and red meat. Fortified breakfast cereals, dairy products, beans and nuts also contain a sufficient amount of zinc to meet your dietary needs 2.