Is Arginine Acidic? Debunking the Myths

Arginine is a popular amino acid that is often used in supplements and protein powders. One of the most common questions people ask about arginine is whether it is acidic or not. There is a lot of misinformation out there about arginine’s acidity, so in this article, we will debunk the myths and provide a clear answer to this question.

What Is Arginine?

Before we dive into whether arginine is acidic or not, let’s first understand what it is. Arginine is a semi-essential amino acid that is important for many bodily functions. It is found in many high-protein foods like meat, dairy products, and nuts, and is also produced by the body.

Acidity 101

Now that we know what arginine is, let’s talk about acidity. Acidity is a measure of how acidic or basic a substance is. This is measured on a scale called the pH scale, which ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of 7 is neutral, while anything below 7 is considered acidic and anything above 7 is considered basic or alkaline.

The pH of Arginine

Now, let’s get to the question at hand: is arginine acidic? The answer is no, arginine is not acidic. In fact, arginine is actually a basic amino acid, meaning it has a pH above 7. This is because it has a positively charged amino group, which makes it basic.

Why the Confusion?

So why is there so much confusion about whether arginine is acidic or basic? One reason is because people often confuse the terms “acidic” and “acidifying.” While arginine is not acidic, it can have an acidifying effect on the body. This is because when arginine is metabolized, it produces ammonia, which can raise the body’s pH levels and make it more acidic. However, this is a different issue altogether and should not be confused with arginine’s actual pH level.

The Benefits of Arginine

Now that we have established that arginine is not acidic, let’s take a closer look at some of its benefits:

1. Improved Blood Flow

Arginine is known for its ability to improve blood flow in the body. This is because it helps to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and allows more blood to flow through them. This can lead to improved athletic performance, reduced blood pressure, and improved cardiovascular health.

2. Improved Immune Function

Arginine has been shown to have an impact on immune function. It can help to increase the production of certain white blood cells that are important for fighting infections and diseases.

3. Improved Wound Healing

Arginine may also be beneficial for wound healing. This is because it plays a role in collagen production, which is important for tissue repair and growth.

4. Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties

There is some evidence to suggest that arginine may have anti-cancer properties. Some studies have found that it can slow the growth of tumors and even induce cancer cell death in certain cases.

How to Get Arginine

Arginine is found in many high-protein foods, including:

  • Meat (particularly poultry)
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes

It is also available in supplement form, typically in the form of L-arginine. However, it is always best to try to get your nutrition from whole foods whenever possible.


In conclusion, arginine is not acidic. While it can have an acidifying effect on the body, this is a separate issue from its actual pH level. Arginine is a basic amino acid that has a number of potential health benefits, including improved blood flow, immune function, wound healing, and potential anti-cancer properties.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is arginine bad for you?
  • No, arginine is not bad for you. In fact, it has a number of potential health benefits when consumed in appropriate amounts.

  • Is arginine safe to take as a supplement?
  • For most people, arginine supplements are safe when taken in appropriate doses. However, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen.

  • What are the side effects of arginine?
  • Some people may experience digestive issues like nausea or diarrhea when taking arginine supplements. In rare cases, it may also cause an allergic reaction.

  • Can you get too much arginine?
  • Like all things, it is possible to consume too much arginine, which can lead to negative side effects. However, this is rare and typically only occurs when consuming very high doses of arginine supplements.


1. Wu, G., Bazer, F.W., Davis, T.A., Kim, S.W., and Li, P. (2009). Arginine metabolism and nutrition in growth, health and disease. Amino Acids, 37(1), 153-8.

2. Proctor, S.D., Kelly, S.E., and Russell, J.C. (2011). A novel complex of arginine-silicate improves micro- and macrovascular function and inhibits glomerular sclerosis in insulin-resistant JCR:LA-cp rats. Diabetologia, 54(1), 218-25.

3. McClave, S.A., Martindale, R.G., Vanek, V.W., McCarthy, M., Roberts, P., Taylor, B., Ochoa, J.B., Napolitano, L., Cresci, G., Leung, C.H., and Heyland, D.K. (2009). Guidelines for the Provision and Assessment of Nutrition Support Therapy in the Adult Critically Ill Patient: Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) and American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (A.S.P.E.N.). JPEN Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 33(3), 277-316.

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