Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid, whose name is derived from the Latin word “Citrullus”, meaning watermelon from where it was first extracted. Amino acids are often regarded as the building blocks of life and are of two types, essential and non-essential.
Essential amino acids are required to be consumed from dietary sources, whereas non-essential amino acids are produced biologically in the body. L-citrulline is an alpha-amino acid, also known as citrulline, citrulline malate (a combination of citrulline and malate, which is important for energy production), and chemical name 2- amino-5-(carbamoylamino)pentanoic acid.
Although it is an amino acid, it is not as effective as other amino acids for building muscles. This amino acid is essentially responsible for producing nitric oxide in the body. The kidney breaks the L-citrulline into L-arginine thus producing nitric oxide which relaxes and widens the arteries and therefore, helps in improving the blood flow. It also promotes the synthesis of certain ingredients that are essential for producing proteins.
Although produced naturally in the body, L-citrulline can also be consumed via diet meals. Foods like watermelon, from where it was first extracted are the best source of L-citrulline. Other foods like pumpkins, cucumbers, and gourds are also known to contain some traces of citrulline. L-citrulline is manufactured both as an over-the-counter version, i.e., dietary supplement and pharmaceutical drug. Medically it is used for treating various diseases like cardiovascular, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure, and physical problems like fatigue and weakness. L-citrulline is also known to be effective in treating genetic disorders like Alzheimer’s.
Since it is known to improve blood flow in the body, an elevated amount of oxygen is thus received by the muscle which makes L-citrulline to be consumed as a supplement by athletes for bodybuilding and improved performing abilities, endurance and metabolism. The amount of supplement to be consumed usually varies around 3-6 grams, however, it depends on the individual purpose and training schedule.
Since L-citrulline promotes the production of nitric oxide in the body, researchers see a high potential in it to be used to treat various other rare diseases and disorders. L-citrulline is produced naturally in the body and therefore is not believed to be harmful as a supplement. Thus, it might do not have serious side effects. However, the researchers are still not sure about its consumption for pregnant or nursing women. In a nutshell, citrulline is a safe supplement to be included in the diet and improve athletic performance. One can definitely give it a try as the next possible supplement.