Citrulline Malate: Benefits, Dosage and Side Effects

Citrulline Malate is a natural supplement that is an amino acid. The name “citrulline” comes from the native Latin word “Citrullus”, which translates to Watermelon. It is mostly considered non-essential because our body produces citrulline on its own. It plays a necessary part in the urea cycle, which rids your body of harmful compounds. First found in watermelons, citrulline’s function is to detoxify ammonia and act as a vasodilator (dilating the blood vessels). It is also said that citrulline has an antioxidant effect. Some of the best sources of citrulline from food include watermelon, bitter gourd, nuts, chickpeas, squash, cucumbers and gourds.

Citrulline Malate

Citrulline has important roles to play in the body, but unlike some amino acids, it is not used to build proteins. But since citrulline helps widen blood vessels, it may play a role in muscle building.

There are usually 2 varieties of citrulline available as supplements; these are L-citrulline and citrulline malate. The only difference between the 2 types of citrulline is that L-citrulline is simply citrulline without any other substance added, and citrulline malate comprises L-citrulline, and DL-malate, which is a compound that may be instrumental in converting food to energy.

How does it work?

A small amount of research suggests that taking citrulline will lead to higher and more consistent arginine levels than taking arginine. In the body, L-citrulline is transformed into a different amino acid, called L-arginine, which is converted into a chemical called nitric oxide. It is thought that L-citrulline may help to supply the body with the raw material it requires to make specific proteins.

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Although there is little research evidence to back any claims of citrulline health benefits, this natural supplement is said to have several health-promoting properties, such as:

  • Improving athletic performance
  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Enhancing physical exercise
  • Helping with erectile dysfunction

Citrulline may increase blood flow by increasing its nitric oxide production. It may also produce positive effects on muscle by stimulating protein synthesis and decreasing amino acid breakdown.

Health Benefits

Researchers have looked into citrulline malate’s health effects, including its effect on blood vessels, erectile dysfunction and exercise performance

1. Citrulline may help your blood vessels widen, potentially improving blood pressure and blood flow to the tissues. Although we should keep in mind that taking this supplement in the long term may be more effective.

2. It may help reduce blood pressure. Studies of 30 to 40 participants looked at the effects of citrulline in adults with high blood pressure or other coronary conditions. They found that the participant’s blood pressure had reduced significantly by 4-15% in under 8 weeks.

3. Citrulline can also help in increasing the rise of growth hormones after exercise. The post-exercise rise in growth hormones may be involved in the beneficial adaptations your body experiences when you exercise. One study found out that men who took citrulline malate supplements were able to do 53% more repetitions than those who took a placebo.

4. The amino acid present in citrulline may also improve erections in men who suffer from erectile dysfunction, probably through its ability to increase blood flow.

5. Studies have shown that some symptoms of sickle cell disease may be alleviated by taking citrulline.

6. Several studies have shown that citrulline malate can improve weight training performance and endurance exercise. Participants’ muscle soreness was also lower when they consumed citrulline malate before exercising. Other researchers also found that citrulline malate decreased fatigue and increased lower body weight training performance. In both these studies, the participants took the supplement 60 minutes before exercise.

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How much to consume?

The appropriate dosage of citrulline depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health and other conditions. A dose of 8 grams per day of citrulline malate is recommended based on current research, and 3-6 grams of L-citrulline. The dose varies depending on the form because 1.75g of citrulline malate contains 1g of L-citrulline. The remaining 0.75g is malate. For weight training, 8g of citrulline malate provides about 4.5g of citrulline.

Furthermore, a dosage of more than 10g of citrulline malate does not typically cause an upset stomach, unlike other amino acids. No side effects were even reported when a user takes up to 20gms of citrulline malate.

To supplement L-citrulline to enhance sports performance, take 6000-8000mg of citrulline malate about an hour before exercise. On days that you don’t exercise, it can be broken up into smaller doses.

Possible side effects

Citrulline is consumed as an oral supplement (by mouth) for many years, without reports of any serious safety concerns. Although side effects from citrulline are minuscule, there have been reports of mild symptoms such as indigestion, nausea and diarrhoea. Based on current information, citrulline is safe and well-tolerated. However, doses of more than 10gms are probably unnecessary.

For pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid citrulline (there is not enough clinical research data to prove the safety of citrulline during pregnancy).

Those who are taking certain prescription drugs should steer away from citrulline, which includes:

1. Phosphodiesterase: 5 inhibitors (medication for erectile dysfunction such as Viagara and Levitra) because both L-citrulline and phosphodiesterase-5 inhibitors can lower the blood pressure and the combination of these 2 supplements can cause hypotension (low blood pressure).

2. Taking nitrates: (drugs that increase blood flow to the heart) along with citrulline may increase blood flow to the heart and cause side effects such as dizziness, headaches, flushing, fainting  low blood pressure, or irregular heart rhythms

3. Antihypertensive drugs: High blood pressure medications such as Norvasc or Lotrel (amlodipine), Cardizem CD, Cardizem SR, Dilacor XR, or Tiazac (diltiazem), Calan SR (verapamil), Lasix and more

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What to look for?

Natural supplements like citrulline are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or any other governmental agency, like prescription and over-the-counter drugs. What this means is that the burden to ensure that the user is buying a safe, pure and effective product is on the user itself.

It’s crucial to purchase a product that is organic, and one that has been certified by an agency. These agencies evaluate and report on a product’s level of safety, purity and potency.

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