In a study on 672 pregnant women, consumption of L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins was related to significantly reduced risk of preeclampsia.
Results of a trial on 672 pregnant women, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that consuming a functional food bar containing L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins may reduced incidence of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition that affects the placenta and is marked by high blood pressure and excess urinary protein. It is considered a leading cause of maternal and neonatal death.
Whether due to family history or previous pregnancy complicated by the condition, all participants enrolled in the Mexico-based study were considered to be at high risk of preeclampsia.
Participants were assigned to daily consumption of two Heart Bars, produced by Nellson Nutraceutical LLC (Irwindale, CA), from 20 weeks of gestation until delivery. Heart Bars were designed to contain 6 g of L-arginine and antioxidant vitamins; antioxidant vitamins alone; or placebo.
Participant compliance was considered equal in all three groups, with participants consuming an average of about one bar daily throughout the study.
Compared with placebo, subjects from the L-arginine group demonstrated an average 15% reduced risk of developing preeclampsia during the study. Supplementation with the antioxidants-only bar produced a reduced risk, but it was not considered significant; L-arginine supplementation resulted in a risk reduction 9% greater.
Researchers involved in the study attributed their results to L-arginine’s involvement in creating nitric oxide in the body:
Our observations are consistent with the notion that availability of the substrate for nitric oxide synthesis (L-arginine) prolongs the latency to development of pre-eclampsia in a high risk population of women taking the amino acid supplement in the presence of antioxidant vitamins in a medical food.
The intervention was considered as a “simple and low-cost” way to potentially reduce the risk of preeclampsia and associated preterm birth.
Funding for this study was provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Fondo de Salud, CONACyT.