What is L-Ornithine HCl?
L-Ornithine, also known as ornithine, is an amino acid with unusual properties. Unlike other amino acids, it’s not involved in making proteins or enzymes, and DNA doesn’t code it. The body can produce it, meaning it’s not an essential amino acid, but it’s critical to keep the body alive. L-Ornithine HCl is a hydrochloride salt form of ornithine, which improves its stability and solubility. Ornithine facilitates faster recovery after exercise, supports liver health, and may relieve hangover symptoms.
Ornithine and the Urea Cycle
It’s a primary component of the urea cycle, along with arginine and citrulline. The urea cycle is how the body detoxifies and disposes of excess ammonia. The body converts ammonia into carbamoyl phosphate, which goes on to transfer a phosphate group to ornithine to produce citrulline. Citrulline is a critical precursor to arginine, which enzymes then break down into urea and ornithine. The body can then safely excrete the urea and send the ornithine to restart the urea cycle.
Potential Ornithine Benefits
Ornithine for Exercise Performance and Recovery
Ornithine is a popular supplement among athletes for its effects on exercise endurance and recovery. One study found that ornithine improved participants’ anaerobic performance. Two studies also reported faster recovery times after working out and less fatigue. Researchers believe this is because ornithine increases the body’s capacity to buffer ammonia. Ammonia buildup is a common cause of muscle fatigue. The researchers also noted it’s exceedingly difficult to consume enough ornithine from foods to achieve these results, and they specifically recommended taking ornithine supplements to combat physical fatigue.
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (OKG)
stimulates muscle protein synthesis when muscles are under stress. It may improve muscle gains and speed up repair following intense workouts or exercise injuries.
Ornithine and Liver Health
Damaged or diseased livers struggle to remove ammonia from the body, resulting in a toxic buildup that impairs muscle control, behavior, and cognitive function. Several studies reported that ornithine helps address these issues by lowering circulating ammonia levels. Ornithine may also alleviate hangover symptoms. Alcohol interferes with ammonia metabolism and can cause sleep disturbances, resulting in adverse mood states and fatigue the following day. One study noted that participants taking ornithine after drinking alcohol work up less tired, confused, stressed, and hostile. Ornithine also increased the participant’s sleep duration. The researchers believe ornithine improves hangover symptoms by accelerating ammonia metabolism and improving sleep quality. They also noted a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol.
Potential Ornithine Side Effects
Ornithine rarely causes side effects; however, high doses may cause diarrhea. Individuals with ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency should not take ornithine supplements.
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