We can consume many nutrients in our diet. Some of them are essential because the body can’t make them. Others are non-essential because the body can create the nutrient on its own.
But even so, non-essential nutrients are important in nutrition. One example is L-citrulline.
In this article, we’re breaking down 10 benefits you get as a man by consuming L-citrulline. Even if your body produces this substance by itself, having an additional source can help you in many ways, as you will see further.
What is L-Citrulline?
L-citrulline is an amino acid a bit different from other amino acids. It is not commonly found in proteins. The body does not use L-citrulline to create enzymes and other structural proteins. Thus, it is considered a non essential amino acid.
The benefits of L citrulline range from blood pressure improvements to erectile dysfunction recovery. That is why some authors have proposed this dietary supplement as a suitable candidate for men’s health (1).
10 Benefits of L-Citrulline for Men
Despite being considered a non-essential amino acid, L-citrulline has promising applications in health and disease. Here’s a list of the top 10 L citrulline benefits for men’s health.
1. Boosts athletic performance
Citrulline supplementation helps men in different sports by modulating blood circulation and energy metabolism. Through an increase of nitric oxide, L-citrulline increases the blood flow. This is important to deliver nutrients to your muscles during intense exercise.
Beyond circulatory changes, L-citrulline also modulates glycogen breakdown and the conversion of glucose into energy. Studies show that citrulline malate increases the efficiency of ATP inside the muscle. This ATP is the energy molecule that prompts muscle movement (2).
Moreover, L-citrulline is known to reduce ammonia accumulation in the muscles as a response to intense exercise. By doing so, muscle fatigue reduces, and physical performance increases (3).
2. Prevents hypertension
People with high blood pressure and pre-hypertension can benefit widely from L-citrulline supplementation. According to studies, this amino acid has a blood pressure-lowering effect in these patients.
In contrast, healthy individuals won’t lower blood pressure but reduce pulse wave velocity. All of this is due to increased nitric oxide levels (4,5).
L citrulline benefits circulation by promoting nitric oxide synthesis. This substance relaxes blood vessels and improves blood circulation. That’s why patients with citrulline supplementation experience fewer blood pressure spikes and protection from pulmonary hypertension (6,7).
3. Counters erectile dysfunction
Nitric oxide is associated with blood pressure levels, as noted above, but also favors erectile function. Thus, citrulline supplementation is also an alternative way to increase penile blood flow in erectile dysfunction.
It is regarded as a pro-erectile agent because it is a precursor of L arginine, which produces nitric oxide. In turn, nitric oxide induces cGMP, using the same pathway as Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors.
L-citrulline is not equally potent as Viagra, and it might not work in the short term. But studies show that taking this supplement daily for one month improved erectile function in half of the patients, who were very satisfied with their treatment (8).
4. Counters anemia and fatigue
L citrulline malate improves exercise capacity, exercise performance, and blood flow. Naturally, this means that people could expect a reduction in fatigue levels. This is more noticeable when you have a prolonged workout. So, in the beginning, you may not experience any difference, but after a while, you could increase the number of repetitions by up to 52% (9).
There’s an additional application in patients with sickle cell anemia. These patients can receive L-citrulline supplements combined with medical therapy to experience faster recovery rates. They reduce fatigue levels and report improvements in overall health (10).
5. Improves insulin secretion
Besides improving blood flow and boosting cardiovascular health, citrulline supplements may also increase insulin secretion. At a physiological serum concentration, citrulline stimulates beta cells in the pancreas. These cells release more insulin in response to glucose, which is good news for type 2 diabetes patients (11).
Interestingly, the supplement modulates insulin levels instead of producing an indiscriminate increase. For example, during and after exercise, there is a burst in insulin production. But taking a supplement three hours before exercise reduces insulin spikes in response to activity (12).
6. Modulates protein synthesis rate
Citrulline supplements have an additional effect on muscle tissue. Some studies suggest that it increases muscle protein synthesis. After food restriction, there is a decrease in protein synthesis and muscular function.
Citrulline helps restore this physiologic process, which may also favor muscle growth. It improves nitrogen balance, which favors protein synthesis and is important to grow bigger muscles (13, 14).
7. Improves growth hormone concentrations
Growth hormone is an important hormone in men. It increases muscle mass and favors bone health. Citrulline malate increases growth hormone levels, according to studies, especially when combined with exercise. Athletes are expected to have 66% higher serum growth hormone levels after exercise (15).
As such, citrulline supplements can be used in sports nutrition to speed up the results of training before a sporting event.
8. Reduces arterial stiffness
As we age, our blood vessels change their configuration and elastic properties. Fat plaques form in the arterial walls, and we go through arterial stiffness. As a precursor of arginine, citrulline increases nitric oxide and improves arterial stiffness in humans. Studies show that this effect is independent of a reduction in blood pressure.
Reducing arterial stiffness improves the response of arteries to the heartbeat. It promotes blood flow and circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease (16)
9. Helps with muscle soreness problems after intense exercise
L citrulline benefits exercise performance while reducing muscle soreness after exercise. According to a study, athletes receiving citrulline supplementation reported a 39% and 41% reduction in muscle soreness 24 and 48 hours after weight lifting.
This effect is related to nitric oxide and its impact on the blood vessels. The blood flow increases, favoring muscle pump and clearing lactic acid faster from the muscle tissue (17).
10. Stimulates your heart to stay strong
Besides the cardiovascular benefits listed above, citrulline malate may also help patients with heart failure.
According to studies, L citrulline supplements can increase right ventricular ejection fraction. It preserves the capacity of the heart to pump blood and the capacity of the blood vessels to transport nutrients.
Interestingly, L citrulline benefits heart health at a lower dose than arginine. These patients may have a better exercise performance and tolerance than before and reduce their fatigue symptoms (18,19)
We reviewed in this article the most important L citrulline benefits for men. It is a precursor molecule of arginine, which turns into nitric oxide and has many cardiovascular effects. Citrulline supplementation reduces blood pressure levels in hypertensive individuals and favors the blood flow.
By improving circulation, L-citrulline improves erectile dysfunction and increases exercise performance, too. Despite being a non-essential amino acid, L-citrulline is a potential coadjuvant treatment in cell sickle anemia or heart failure. It is a beneficial and safe dietary supplement for men.