Arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) supplements are most commonly used by athletes, but some men have started taking them to improve their erectile function. Learn what a panel of six experts has to say about the risks and benefits of AAKG, AAKG and ED medications, and where to find additional support for your sexual health and function.
Arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) is a popular dietary supplement among athletes and bodybuilders. AAKG is thought to increase production of nitric oxide in the muscles. Because nitric oxide is known to enhance blood flow, AAKG could theoretically support the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
AAKG is essentially a modified version of the amino acid arginine. It’s compounded by reacting L-arginine and alpha-glutarate together.
Many people take AAKG to improve their athletic performance, reduce muscle fatigue, and enhance their recovery.
Some people also take AAKG to help with certain health conditions, such as:
We asked six medical and naturopathic experts to weigh in on frequently asked questions about AAKG. See what they have to say below.
As with most supplements, AAKG is generally considered safe to take under the direction of your provider. Anyone with chronic health conditions or taking prescription medications should talk to their doctor before taking any new supplements.
Experts agree that AAKG is safe for most people to use. Julius Cermak, a naturopathic herbalist, points to the fact that AAKG and arginine itself have been tested for use in healthy adults with positive results. For example, two small studies found AAKG to be well tolerated without any adverse effects in the study’s participants.
Though you can get AAKG from a variety of sources, some experts recommend taking it in supplement form for the most effective results. Dr. Sony Sherpa, a holistic doctor, states, “Like any other supplements, AAKG is safe when you use it appropriately. While you can get it from food sources like meat and nuts, arginine in the form of AAKG dietary supplements provides benefits more efficiently.”
Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, with the National Capital Poison Center agreed that AAKG is considered safe in young, healthy adults. She also speaks to the general safety warning for all supplements, commenting, “While the supplement itself may be minimally toxic when used as directed on the package label, it's important to know that dietary supplements in the United States are not heavily regulated, and they may contain unwanted contaminants such as heavy metals, prescription medications, and bacteria.”
Most experts agree that it’s safe to take AAKG alongside PDE5 inhibitors (ED medications). As with any prescription medication, there are special considerations you should address with your provider before adding a supplement to your daily regimen. Experts included these considerations when weighing in on mixing AAKG and PDE5 inhibitors.
Experts Nancy Mitchell, RN, and Dr. Sherpa pointed to the promising results of recent research on AAKG and PDE5 inhibitors. A 2020 study explored the safety and efficacy of taking AAKG in combination with ED medications. The study revealed that combining AAKG and PDE5 inhibitor therapies may be more effective than using a single therapy to treat ED.
Dr. Sherpa added, “Since both cause the blood vessels to dilate, your blood pressure may go too low when taking them simultaneously. Consulting your doctor before using AAKG with a PDE5 inhibitor is ideal.”
Deepanshu Bedi, the cofounder of exhalewell.com, states that the benefits of taking AAKG outweigh the low risks. He comments, “You can take it with PDE5 inhibitors if you have a medical condition that requires PDE5 inhibitors. The risks associated with the use of arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG) are low and balanced by its benefits.”
Sean Ormond, MD, an anesthesiologist and pain interventionist, supports taking AAKG with PDE-5 inhibitors. However, he cautions against taking them with prescription blood pressure medications. “Yes, AAKG can be administered with PDE5 inhibitors.” However, he cautions, “It's not advisable to take it if you are on any blood pressure drug unless your doctor recommends it.”
Multiple experts expressed support of taking AAKG alongside PDE5 inhibitors, as long as men follow the recommended dose. For example, Cermak says, “AAKG can be taken with PDE5 inhibitors as long as you follow the recommended dosage. These supplements shouldn't have any risky side-effects, but if your body isn't reacting well to them obviously you should stop taking them.”
Experts agree that risks associated with AAKG are low for most healthy adults. People with certain conditions or taking certain medications shouldn’t take AAKG without first consulting with their doctor.
Whether or not you take prescription ED medications, you should watch your dosage with AAKG. There isn’t a standard dose of AAKG, aside from manufacturer recommendations. This means that some people may take too much without realizing it.
Nutritional biochemist Shawn M. Talbott, PhD, cautions that taking too much AAKG (20-30 grams per day) could lead to low blood pressure. It might also lead to increased insulin levels. This is why it’s so important to consult with your doctor before beginning a new supplement regimen.
Experts agree that it might not be safe for people with heart problems to take AAKG. This is specifically a concern for people who recently had a heart attack or who are taking any type of blood pressure medication.
RN Mitchell explained the risk AAKG supplements pose to people taking hypertensive medications. “This is because AAKG is known to improve circulation and slightly increase blood pressure. As a result, it may lessen the effect of blood pressure-reducing drugs.”
Dr. Ormond added to this precaution, stating, “It's also a risk to people who have had a recent heart attack. It also worsens allergies or asthma.”
You shouldn’t ignore sudden symptoms, such as dizziness or shortness of breath. Dr. Johnson-Arbor advises people to contact poison control if they experience unexpected side effects associated with AAKG. You can contact poison control in the United States at www.poison.org or by calling 1-800-222-1222.
There is limited research detailing the benefits of AAKG. Many of the health claims stem from anecdotal evidence and research on arginine use. However, the existing research is promising overall.
Dr. Ormond weighs in on the benefits of AAKG, summarizing its potential benefits for a variety of bodily functions. These include wound healing, helping the kidneys remove waste products from the body, maintaining immune and hormone function, and relaxing the arteries.
RN Mitchell spoke to the benefits of AAKG for improving circulation, which can help to treat vascular conditions. “In fact, it is gaining popularity as a performance-enhancing supplement and is believed to improve blood flow, particularly in persons with poor circulation. This is also the reasoning behind its use for erectile dysfunction.”
Increased blood flow is especially helpful in improving athletic performance and helping athletes to recover from injury. As Dr. Johnson-Arbor pointed out, “Most of the studies of AAKG involve its use for relief of tendon-related pain and exercise recovery.” The results of these studies are mixed, but a systematic review demonstrates promising preclinical results overall.
Dr. Talbott summarized the particular benefits of AAKG as “a set of benefits that would really appeal to an athlete or anyone interested in balancing blood sugar, losing fat, and gaining muscle.”
There is some evidence that AAKG supplements support blood flow and erectile function. Experts agree that it’s safe for most men to take AAKG alongside their prescription ED medication, as long as you consult with a provider.
Unlike FDA-approved ED medications, AAKG doesn’t require a prescription. We have you covered with supplements and prescriptions. Take advantage of our free consultations with a licensed professional and enjoy free shipping right to your door.