Thank you for your interesting enquiry. I think the starting point for the answer must be the recommended daily dose of L-arginine for an average person. From my own practical experience I agree with Dr Louis Ignarro (joint winner of the Nobel Prize for his work on Arginine Derived Nitric Oxide/ADNO) that this is 6 grams together with L-citrulline (“NO More Heart Disease”, page xvi). Opinions differ, however, and Professor John Cooke appears to suggest 1-4 grams, but he does continue, “…those with symptoms of heart or vessel disease may benefit from more L-arginine, as much as 6 to 9 grams of L-arginine daily – too much to get from diet alone” (“The Cardiovascular Cure”, page 68).
The richest source of L-arginine, which is turned into ADNO in the body, is wild game meat, a pound of which contains over 5.2 grams of Arginine (“The Arginine Solution”, page 57). That is why our Palaeolithic ancestors were so healthy. The next richest source, though way below wild game, is natural fish and farmed meat. Next in quantity come such things as almonds, dark chocolate, garbanzo beans, melons, peanuts, soy and walnuts (just examples). Most fruit and vegetables, although very good nutritionally, have little or no Arginine. Professor Cooke sets out many recipes (ibid, page 84 et seq) for obtaining Arginine through diet, but even his meat based daily diets rarely reach the 6 grams a day requirement. Also, a grade one pharmaceutical Arginine supplement designed to go straight to the intestines is likely to be better absorbed. When it comes to vegetarian recipes (I am a vegetarian with occasional lapses!) you will see that Professor Cooke struggles to get to about 1 gram per day.
I am sorry to hear of your heart issues. I am not a medical practitioner and so I am in no way seeking to second-guess your health professionals. As an Arginine zealot and somebody increasingly fascinated by how vital nutrition is, I should like to add two things. First, some say they find Arginine supplementation helps with anxiety problems. Secondly, it might be worth your viewing the latter part of Dr Harry Eldwardt’s youtube talk on Arginine, where he describes his father’s experience with drugs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPmNBrDwiEg Very best wishes, Charles.