Ornithine is an amino acid that plays the lead in your urea cycle. It goes by many names like L-ornithine, L-aspartate, OA (used informally), and ornithine-aspartate (the formal version of OA). Your intelligence is fine even if all of these words seem tough to understand. They are, but we can explain them simply. During the formation of urea (the constituent element of urine), an amino acid called arginine metabolizes (breaks down into simpler forms) is formed. This is when the formation of ornithine takes place. Basically, it would seem that it is non-essential. The benefits and side effects of ornithine are given below.
Ever wondered what exactly do the bodybuilding supplements and muscle gain supplements contain? Well, ornithine paired with arginine is the main ingredient. Ornithine is responsible for elevating the growth hormone levels. As such, it is also vital in the anti-aging process. It helps the body maintain the muscle and tissue requirement. OA could probably be the secret behind Wolverine's healing power (wolverine is a character in the movie X-Men. He can heal himself.) But jokes aside, a healthy level of ornithine can help the body to recover fast from trauma, burns, infections and even cancer. Ornithine-aspartate has shown to have favorable effects in treatment of patients suffering from brain abnormalities (hepatic encephalopathy) due to liver cirrhosis. In a clinical trial, it was observed that burn patients who took 10 - 30 grams of ornithine alpha-ketoglutarate (OKG) per day experienced faster healing. Cancer and trauma patients taking OKG have also shown better and faster recoveries leading to shorter hospital stays.
Ornithine increases insulin and improves growth hormone levels. They are needed to build and maintain muscles during intensive physical training. It also helps deal with muscle loss that happens during the aging process. As the body ages, efficiency to synthesize proteins reduces and it can't regenerate muscle tissue as strength and muscularity starts reducing rapidly. By helping to elevate growth hormone levels, it helps speed up the production of muscle tissue and delays the effects of aging. Although both arginine and ornithine are said to help protect and build muscle mass, the latter has been found to be twice as effective at perking up the growth hormone production as arginine. So, if that (muscle building) is your purpose, you could eliminate arginine and concentrate more on ornithine. Since arginine is required to produce ornithine in the body, a basic intake of it should be maintained.
We know that the body itself produces OA. However, it is available in fish, meat, dairy, and eggs as well. There are meager chances of a person suffering from OA deficiency (as it is produced by the body itself.). However certain conditions, like pregnancy, trauma, or malnutrition can lead to deficiency development. Pharmaceutical companies, like Esteem, Olympian Labs, Twinlab, Solaray, etc., do have a variety of ornithine supplement medication. So, even if you do suffer from arginine or OA deficiency, consult your doctor regarding these supplements (do not administer any treatment or medication without consulting a doctor).
You need to know that an intake of up to 10 grams of OA a day does not have any side effects. If the intake exceeds 10 grams a day gastrointestinal distress may initiate. Other than that OA is a selfless supplement.
They say "what ain't broken, need not be fixed". If you do not suffer from OA deficiency and have the urea cycle functioning smoothly, refrain from use of supplements. Your body is well-capable of fending itself. Don't spoil it and make it dependent on medication. And even if you do see a requirement to opt for supplements, consult a doctor and take all your medical details into consideration before you begin having the supplements.
Disclaimer: This FitnessVigil article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.