L-Citrulline: A Non-Essential Amino Acid with Important Roles in Human Health
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L-Arginine (Arg) has been widely used due to its functional properties as a substrate for nitric oxide (NO) generation. However, L-citrulline (CIT), whose main natural source is watermelon, is a non-essential amino acid but which has important health potential. This review provides a comprehensive approach to different studies of the endogenous synthesis of CIT, metabolism, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics as well as its ergogenic effect in exercise performance. The novel aspect of this paper focuses on the different effects of CIT, citrulline malate and CIT from natural sources such as watermelon on several topics, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, cancer, and exercise performance. CIT from watermelon could be a natural food-sourced substitute for pharmacological products and therefore the consumption of this fruit is promoted.