Citrulline has gradually become one of the amino acids most consumed by both athletes and ordinary people, especially for the benefits that this supplement brings to the body.
Likewise, citrulline is also produced naturally in the body and can be found in some foods; however, it is more common to see it in the form of supplements.
Now, while some people are very optimistic about the use of citrulline , other people are a little more skeptical about it.
Do you want to know everything about citrulline? Discover this definitive guide to citrulline supplements.
What is citrulline?
Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid that was first found in watermelon, but can also be produced by the body naturally.
Even so, it can also increase your levels in the body when you consume more foods rich in citrulline or take supplements of this amino acid.
However, citrulline has the peculiarity that, unlike other amino acids, it does not function directly as a protein construct. Despite this, it plays a key role in the urea cycle, ridding the body of harmful compounds.
In addition to the role it plays in the urea cycle, citrulline can also help dilate blood vessels, which can also contribute to the process of muscle growth .
How does citrulline work?
Citrulline has several effects on the body, but one of the most recognized (and therefore most used) is the increase in vasodilation.
When we speak of vasodilatation we refer to the enlargement of the arteries or veins. In turn, vasodilation leads to a lower risk of high blood pressure and a considerable increase in blood flow.
In addition, after citrulline is consumed, it can also become arginine, an amino acid that in turn becomes nitric oxide. For its part, arginine also leads to increased vasodilation. Thus, both citrulline and nitric oxide can benefit the body after exercise.
Citrulline can also reduce the liver’s absorption of certain amino acids and prevent their breakdown. Thus, by combining the two main effects mentioned above, citrulline can contribute significantly to the increase of muscle mass or its maintenance.
What sources of citrulline are there?
Citrulline can be found in foods that are consumed very often. Some of them are:
- Bitter melon.
However, until now no specific analysis has been made on what is the specific content of citrulline for each food.
What types of citrulline supplements are there?
There are two main ways to find citrulline in the supplement market:
- L-citrulline: is the generic way to find citrulline, without any addition.
- Citrulline malate: is the combination of citrulline with malate, a compound used to increase energy levels.
Although it is common to find both types of supplements, in terms of sports supplements, the use of citrulline malate is more common . However, the problem with this does not know what benefits and effects to attribute to each compound.
What benefits does citrulline have on health?
Researchers have suggested that using citrulline supplements can contribute to several positive effects in the body. The main benefits of consuming citrulline supplements are the following:
Dilata of blood vessels
By dilating the blood vessels, blood pressure and blood flow to the tissues can be significantly improved.
In fact, it has been shown that the consumption of L-citrulline for more than 7 days can help to widen the arteries in people suffering from heart diseases such as hypertension.
In this way, although a single dose may not be enough to significantly improve heart health, in the medium and long term many benefits can be achieved.
In turn, this amino acid can help fight erectile dysfunction, promoting better erections in men. This is probably due to the improvement in blood flow that citrulline produces.
Reduces blood pressure
So far it has been shown through different studies that citrulline can help control high blood pressure in people suffering from high blood pressure or other similar conditions. However, in healthy people has not yet been shown what are the effects on blood pressure, so it is still under study.
Positive effects of citrulline when doing physical exercise
Citrulline can help increase the growth hormone after exercise. Thanks to its vasodilator capacity, citrulline can also contribute to a better performance in exercise or sport, on the one hand in exercises based on resistance, and for another part in strength-based exercises.
6.1 Endurance exercises
Although in principle L-citrulline does not directly improve the body’s resistance , its continuous consumption can contribute to a higher content of oxygen in the muscle tissue, helping to improve the use of oxygen by the muscles, which directly contributes with greater resistance , especially in high demand sports such as cycling.
Exercise with weights
In this case, the supplement used is not L-citrulline but citrulline malate.
A study of 41 men found that participants were able to perform 53% more repetitions after ingesting citrulline malate compared with a placebo. Other researchers also found that their consumption helps increase energy levels , decreased fatigue and better performance in workouts to increase muscle mass.
In these cases, citrulline malate was consumed one hour before training.
Supplements to improve performance in strength trainingWhat is the recommended intake of citrulline?
What is the recommended intake of citrulline?
The recommended daily dose is about 3-6 g of L-citrulline, and in the case of citrulline malate about 8 g per day.
However, depending on the objective, these doses may vary or be more specific:
- Weight training: 8 g of citrulline malate.
- Muscle oxygenation (resistance training): 6g of L-citrulline for more than 7 days.
- Blood pressure: 3-6 g of L-citrulline daily.
In addition, citrulline is better digested than other amino acids due to its way of being digested and absorbed unlike other amino acids that can cause stomach distention. Recommended intake of citrulline supplements
As you have seen, citrulline can have many positive effects on the body; and, best of all, there are no known side effects of its intake.
If you aim to improve your cardiac health or obtain a greater sport performance (both resistance and strength), citrulline can be a great ally for you. Anyway, if you have any questions consult your nutritionist or trusted doctor to tell you which type of citrulline suit you best.