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What Is L-Ornithine? | Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

What Is L-Ornithine? | Benefits, Side Effects & Dosage

You already know the many benefits that amino acids have on your capacity for lifting weights, right? If you don’t, then finding out that they’re the building blocks to those much sought after gains is the most important news you’re gonna get all day. One type of these building blocks is L-ornithine.

While this supplement is common among fitness veterans, L-Ornithine is one amino acid you might not be familiar with. But it is of the best for raking in those gains.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of L-Ornithine, how much you should be taking, and how it can help your body rid itself of any waste.

What is L-Ornithine?

L-Ornithine is an amino acid that is mainly used in your urea cycle in the capacity of removing excess nitrogen from your body. It is also very important in the removal of ammonia (NH3), a waste product of cellular metabolism, from your body.

High levels of ammonia can be detrimental to your health as it can become toxic. L-Ornithine combats this by working as a catalyst that turns ammonia into urea, which is then in turn removed from your body in urine.

L-Ornithine is created in your body, in other words it is not an essential amino acid that you solely need from external sources. It is found in its highest concentrations in your connective tissue, for example, in your skin.

However, it is your liver cells that produce L-Ornithine from the amino acid 'arginine', which you take into your body and ingest from a variety of sources.

Animal protein is the best dietary source of L-Ornithine, with the top food sources for this supplement coming from meat, dairy, fish and eggs. If you're vegan or vegetarian, foods such as coconuts, oats, wheat, soybeans, peanuts and carob are all excellent sources of L-Ornithine.

Alongside dietary sources, L-Ornithine supplementation is often recommended to ensure you receive the benefits of this amino acid.

What are the benefits of L-Ornithine?

Strength and Lifting Endurance

So this is what y’all came here for, to learn how supplementing this amino acid can help to improve your workout performance.

By removing nitric oxide L-Ornithine has a great impact on your training, as nitric oxide dilates your blood vessels when your hard-working body wants to pump extra blood to your tissues.

Bodybuilders, we know that you know all about creatine. Your muscle tissue stores creatine as phosphocreatine. Phosphocreatine synthesizes during high-intensity exercises, such as lifting weights, to provide your muscles with extra energy.

Creatine pulls water into your muscle cells, increasing protein synthesis. Creatine can be utilized by your body as a quick form of energy during high intensity, short-burst activities such as lifting heavy weights or breaking into a sprint.

The big news is that arginine stimulates your body’s natural production of creatine. By supplementing L-Ornithine you can add to the production of arginine, which helps with your strength and endurance when you need it in a grueling training session.

L-Ornithine can also help to counter natural fatigue through its ability to keep your energy levels balanced while helping you to get a better night’s sleep.

Managing your body's waste

Not only does L-Ornithine provide bodybuilders with lasting lifting strength, it also comes with the added bonus of being good for your liver and managing unwanted toxic waste in your body.

Not only does L-Ornithine provide bodybuilders with lasting lifting strength, it also comes with the added bonus of being good for your liver and managing unwanted toxic waste in your body.

So how is it that L-Ornithine serves you so well in two seemingly distant areas?

It’s all because of those building blocks, amino acids. Amino acids comprise the proteins in your muscles and organs. They also turn into biochemical compounds like hormones and neurotransmitters.

When these compounds are broken down, one of the products is ammonia which comes from the nitrogen that they contain. When this builds up in your body it can become toxic and unwanted in that temple that is your body.

L-Ornithine works as a catalyst that turns ammonia into urea, which is then in turn removed from your body in urine. As such it plays a big part in the processes of your urea cycle, or ornithine cycle, by helping your liver cells to convert the threat of ammonia into urea, which goes on to be processed by your kidneys and removed as urine.

When you have an L-Ornithine deficiency, or your body is unable to produce enough, you may face the considerable problem of having too much toxic waste in your system, which can have a serious impact on your health. It goes without saying at this point, that if you aren't getting enough of this stuff from your diet, L-Ornithine supplementation is recommended.

How much L-Ornithine should you take?

L-Ornithine supplementation (as hydrochloride), or L-Ornithine HCL, may be added to liquid or as part of a blend at 1.5g per serving to be used 1-3 times on a daily basis.

Another type, L-Ornithine Alpha Ketoglutarate (OAKG), is a salt that is made up of two molecules of the non-protein amino acid, L-Ornithine, and the dicarboxylic acid, alpha-ketoglutarate, may be taken in daily doses of 3mg.

Common side effects of L-Ornithine

When it comes to the downsides to the great benefits, the jury is currently out. In other words, there isn’t enough research on the side effects of it to give us a good enough insight to provide the all clear on any potential side effects.

At a glance, some of the more commonly listed side effects - including gastric discomfort, restlessness, insomnia, and diarrhea - have been reported above dosages of 10mg. It is recommended that pregnant women and children avoid supplementation.

If you have concerns about supplementing with L-Ornithine it is always best to speak to a healthcare professional.

Take home message

L-Ornithine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in your body that has great benefits for your strength and endurance when training, as well as playing an important role in the management of waste and the build of toxic ammonia in your body.

Presently, there are few studies to advise on the side effects of supplementation, but other benefits include helping you to sleep and managing the effects of fatigue.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Victoria has a master’s degree in English Literature. She loves doing unconventional workouts like pole fit, which she’s done for the past four years. She’s also a passionate foodie, so in her spare time, you’ll find her trying out the newest restaurants in her home town.