Read it and see what you think long but worth it 8th post 5th bullet all you need to know really
Consumer Alert: The NO2/Arginine Scam
by David Barr
The Biggest Scam in Supplement History
Take a look at the history of nutritional supplements and you'll find many scams and cons. It's easy to spot these swindles in hindsight; it's a little tougher to identify them during their market peaks. Well, there's a scam going on right now, a big one. In fact, it's growing even bigger as I write this. Are you falling for it? Are you being suckered by bad science and questionable marketing tactics?
Let's cut to the chase: the biggest scam on the market right now is arginine blood flow stimulators. You may know these by the terms "nitric-oxide stimulators" or "NO2 supplements."
Wait, you already knew these supplements were worthless? And you think you already know what the scam is? Doubtfully. Because I'm about to reveal the real con behind these supplements. In this Consumer Alert, I’ll not only blow the lid off of the whole scam, but I’ll also reveal to you a better hemodilator that's been proven for years to increase blood flow, aid in recovery, and stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
This article covers the science showing why arginine products don’t stand up to their claims, but the rabbit hole goes much deeper than that. Hang on Alice, you’re in for a wild ride.
Why Arginine? Why Now?
Why are so many supplement companies focusing on arginine? Well, now that prohormones are banned, companies are scrambling to throw out the next big supplement to keep them in business. If nothing truly groundbreaking is within their grasp, they'll come out with a worthless supplement supported by dubious science. Want to know what's really pathetic? If this garbage supplement makes some money, other companies will rip off the bad idea and market their own versions, regardless of whether or not the supplement works!
Are the copycats and knockoffs, with their additional bells and whistles, better? No. In fact, some sleazy manufacturers are even including potentially harmful substances like glycocyamine in their products!
This copycat movement was really noticeable at the recent Olympia Expo, where only variations on two products seemed to exist: creatine and nitric oxide stimulators. While readers may be aware of the inherent risks of creatine wannabes from our Consumer Report on Dangerous Creatine, recent evidence demonstrates how nitric oxide stimulators can be considered the greatest con since ENRON. Let's dig into the evidence.
Hemodilators: Theory and Practice
The hemodilator (or blood vessel dilator) products saturating the market are purported to stimulate blood flow and subsequently enhance nutrient delivery to muscles, resulting in increased size and strength. As you may know, these products contain little more than the amino acid arginine, something that's been on the supplement market for years and years. Basically, arginine supplementation is claimed to stimulate the synthesis of the hemodilator nitric oxide (NO) in our blood vessels.
The existing theory looks like this:
Arginine -> Nitric Oxide -> Vasodilation -> Nutrient Delivery -> Muscle Growth and Strength
Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with arginine. In fact, it’s an important amino acid. It’s just not the amino acid to really help your gains — more on that later.
New research has been revealed since the first T-Nation article on these types of supplements was published. Now we can focus on that which is directly applicable to us: studies on healthy adults.
Sick Over Arginine
The whole hemodilator theory is relatively simple. Arginine is the precursor for NO synthesis and it's been shown that high dose arginine infusion directly into the bloodstream can lead to vasodilation in healthy fasted humans (17). Unfortunately, high doses can lead to decreases in total body water and sodium (4). And even a dose as low as 10 grams has been associated with gastric upset when consumed orally (26,14).
Researchers involved in a third study demonstrating oral arginine-induced GI distress actually had to reduce the quantity originally given so the trials could be completed effectively (29). Despite the reduction to seven grams an hour for three hours (for a 200 pound man), the researchers reported: "All of our subjects reported mild intestinal cramping and diarrhea that lasted for approximately five hours."
But wait, it gets worse! This arginine dose still had no significant effect on glycogen storage following exercise (29)! Because oral arginine only has 70% bioavailability, and up to 50% of this can be broken down to ornithine, taking arginine tablets or powder is impractical for research (6, 9). This is why arginine is usually infused directly into the blood via peripheral IV for scientific studies, and even then an impractical dose of 30 grams of this amino acid is common.
In fact, one study compared infusions and oral dosing. The researchers found that six grams of arginine had no effect via either route of administration, while it took a 30 gram infusion to cause vasodilation (6). So, it takes a 30 gram IV dose to get results. If we were to get these results from an oral dose, we’d have to take 43 grams because only 70% of it is bioavailable (i.e. 30 / .7 = 43).
Now if 10 grams can cause gastric upset, then the 43 gram oral dose (with bioavailability taken into account) makes me more than a little uneasy.
Arginine: A No Go for NO
If you think that this lack of effect is an isolated incident, other studies investigating high oral doses of arginine and NO induced blood flow have shown no effect when 21 grams (7 g 3x/d) were used (1). Two additional studies where 20 grams per day were taken for 28 days also showed no effects (11,12).
At first, this complete lack of effect was a little surprising considering that arginine is the precursor for nitric oxide synthesis. But upon closer inspection, natural arginine levels are far in excess of what should activate the enzyme responsible for NO production — an effect known as the arginine paradox (21).
In yet another study, a six day, arginine free diet had no effect on nitric oxide synthesis. This indicates that arginine isn't limiting for NO production, and its regulation is far more complicated than supplement companies would have us believe (9).
Of course, the whole rested and fasted thing doesn’t apply to you, so let’s see what happened when exercise was involved. This next noteworthy study used 10 grams of arginine along with 70 grams of carbohydrates in subjects who either performed resistance training or cycling exercise (26). The results? There were no changes in blood flow or glucose uptake compared to placebo, regardless of which mode of exercise was used. This is significant because it directly contradicts the claims of the supplement manufacturers.
For those who are more skeptical, or perhaps just brainwashed by flashy advertising, you’re probably not happy with studies using pure arginine. Oh no, it has to be special arginine, like the ones used in the popular products, before you’ll believe any results. Fine, let's look into the science and crack that nut.
The Acid Test
While it’s important to understand the evidence behind normal arginine supplementation, many would argue that it doesn’t apply to the original nitric oxide-stimulating supplement, NO2. This is because the aforementioned product contains arginine alpha-ketoglutarate, not simply arginine. The theory is that alpha ketoglutarate (AKG) somehow makes this supplement "work." Okay, that’s cool, let’s see what science has to say.
Thread: Nitric Oxide A Scam