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Amino Acid Supplements May Help Improve Vascular Function in Mature Adults

Vascular endothelial function declines with advancing age, due in part to increased oxidative stress and inflammation. A recent study suggests that a supplement containing the amino acids HMB (a metabolite of leucine), glutamine, and arginine may help improve vascular function and blood flow in mature adults.


Participants in the study included 31 community-dwelling men and women between the ages of 65 and 87. Over the course of six months, half of the group was given a supplement containing 3 g HMB, 14 g glutamine, and 14 g arginine daily. The other half was given a placebo.


At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was increased in the supplement group but not the placebo group. FMD is a measure of endothelial function, which is a measure of how well the layer of cells that line the blood vessels function. They also noted a trend toward increased CRP (a marker of inflammation) but it was not enough to be significant.


Researchers from the University of Alabama conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 26, 2015, in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis, which begins the muscle building process. In addition to building muscle, leucine also helps regulate blood sugar levels. Foods rich in leucine include soybeans, lentils, beef, peanuts, salmon, eggs and milk.


Previous studies suggest that glutamine may help relieve some of the side effects of medical treatments, including diarrhea, swelling in the mouth, nerve pain, and muscle and joint pain. It has also been found to help boost the immune and digestive systems.


Glutamine can be found in animal proteins such as fish, pork, beef, and chicken. For vegetarians, it can be found in beans, milk, yogurt, ricotta cheese, and cottage cheese.


Arginine is an amino acid that is a part of most proteins. In the body, it changes into nitric acid. It has been shown in previous studies to help with cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure. It can be found in gelatin, chocolate, carob, coconut, oats, whole wheat flour, soybeans, and wheatgerm.


All of these nutrients can be obtained through eating a balanced diet, and they also can be found in supplement form if you feel you’re not getting enough from diet alone.

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