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HEALTH MATTERS: Five health benefits of L-Citrulline

Professional athlete Carol Rodriguez, a sprinter, is no stranger to rigorous workouts that result in muscle soreness, fatigue and cramping.

A two-time Olympian, Rodriguez is currently working towards the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championship in London scheduled for this summer. She works out on an average of four times a week for three or four hours each session.

Her goal is to pass her personal best for the 200 meter at 22:23 seconds. When she earned the No. 2 position in the world, she held three records: the Puerto Rican national record, the USC and Pac 12 conference records for 11 years and counting.

“When you train at this level, you have to stay hydrated to prevent cramping, migraines, fatigue and muscle soreness as well as flush out the lactic acid buildup from training and keep your heart strong, “ said Rodriguez, who is also known as C-Rod.

Her pre-workout consists of a 30-minute warm up to loosen up her muscles. The warm up includes a light jog, running drills and dynamic stretching which is performed standing and moving through challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly, usually 10 to 12 times.

Some medical professionals, researchers and scientist believe that L-Citrulline contributes to overall health and physical performance, especially for athletes who endure extensive and severe training.

What is L-Citrulline? The non-protein amino acid is produced in the human body, found in fruit, specifically melons, vegetables and available as a supplement, and can contribute to the therapeutic significance for more than 100 health conditions.

Why is amino acid important and how does it work? L-Citrulline helps maintain the white blood cell count to keep the immune system strong to fight infections, increase energy and accelerate healing.

Watermelon, cantaloupes, honeydews and muskmelons are a natural and rich source of L-Citrulline, a non-essential amino acid that has several health benefits. (Photo:iStockPhotos)

L-Citrulline may also reduce lactic acid and help the liver detoxify ammonia, which can help promote better muscle performance and increased endurance.

Would it surprise you to know that the Latin word for watermelon is citrullus? Scientists found that melons are an excellent natural source of L-Citrulline with the highest concentration in watermelon, especially the rind which is edible.

New research showed L-Citrulline and L-Arginine supplements derived from watermelon extract lead to significant improvements in blood pressure and cardiac stress in obese study participants.

So don’t throw out the rind, eat it.

Other food sources of the amino acid are squashes, gourds, cucumbers, pumpkins, cantaloupe, honeydew, bittermelon and muskmelon.

Five benefits of L-Citrulline are: it boosts blood flow; decreases muscle soreness and aids in faster recovery; improves endurance during workouts and rigorous physical activities; increased heart health; and reduces muscle fatigue.

“To minimize muscle soreness and pain, I take amino acids in a liquid form twice a day and drink about 70-90 ounces of water daily, even when I’m not training,” Rodriguez said. “Amino acids keep my blood circulating, give me more energy, endurance and help to minimize the lactic acid buildup, which for me is a feeling of stiffness, heaviness and soreness in my legs and hips during my run.”

Citrulline bypasses the liver and goes to the kidneys and the amino acid is converted to Arginine. Nitric Oxide is released into the blood vessels causing the blood vessels to dilate, boost blood flow, and improve muscle power and recovery. Diagram source: physiquebodyshop.com

While most amino acids break down in the liver and intestines and are used to build muscle tissue, L-Citrulline, a non-protein amino acid, bypasses the liver. The majority of L-Citrulline is converted by the kidneys, changing it into L-Arginine and then to nitric oxide.

L-Arginine is important for the heart and immune system health. Nitric oxide, made of one atom of nitrogen and one of oxygen, provides nutrients and oxygen to muscle tissue and prevents the formation of blood clots.

According to the National Institutes of Health, chemical reactions in the body release ammonia as a waste product and the liver turns it into a less toxic chemical called urea. The kidneys remove the urea from the body in the urine.

When training for the 400 meter, Rodriguez concentrates on lactic tolerance training, which is teaching the body to clear the lactic acid quickly to minimize fatigue during competition.

In her post-workout and recovery, Rodriguez gets a full body massage, focusing on her legs and hips to help eliminate lactic acid build up and inflammation in her hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and quads.

“Recovery resting is important,” she said. “I do an active rest which is a 15-minute stationary bike ride, a lighter workout and static stretching techniques, which is a challenging but comfortable position held for a period of time, usually between 10 to 30 seconds.

Rodriguez relies on amino acids in the natural food form and supplements; lower body massages; 10-minute ice baths to keep a strong blood flow and reduce inflammation; and accelerate healing to literally keep her on track toward her goal of a new national record.

Resources:

Buzzle – www.buzzle.com

Mayo Clinic – www.mayo.edu

Mercola’s Natural Health Center – www.Mercola.com

Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute – www.mdpi.com

National Center for Biotechnology Information – www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

National Institutes of Health – www.nih.gov

Science Direct – www.sciencedirect.com

Marie Y. Lemelle, MBA, a public relations consultant, is the owner of Platinum Star PR and can be reached on Twitter @PlatinumStar or Instagram @PlatinumStarPR. Send “Health Matters” related questions to healthmatters@wavepublication.com and look for her column in The Wave.