Sodium nitrite (NaNO2) is a food additive used as a meat preservative and coloring agent. It is commonly used in preserved meats and fish. NaNO2 is toxic to the human body at high doses. Nitrite benefits the body as a nitric oxide (NO) donor and has some positive effects on our bodies at low doses.
NaN02 is toxic when combined with amines and amides, making nitrosamines and nitrosamides. The toxic effects are reproductive problems, liver disease, inflammation abnormalities, slow growth, and endocrine abnormalities.
L-arginine is a conditionally essential amino acid under stress conditions when the body doesn’t produce enough arginine. Arginine is important in many chemical functions in the body, including healing and improved immunity.
L-glutamine is a conditionally essential amino acid, also. It is important to several organs, such liver, spleen, and kidney.
In this study, 60 rats were divided into 6 groups. First, they were fed normally for 7 days. Then, group 1 was the control group and received normal diet. Group 2 was fed the normal diet with NaNO2. Group 3 was fed the normal diet with NaNO2 and 1% arginine. Group 4 was fed the normal diet with NaNO2 and 2% arginine. Group 5 was fed the normal diet with NaNO2 1% glutamine. Group 6 was fed the normal diet with NaNO2 and 2% glutamine.
The rats were sacrificed after six weeks on their diets and blood samples were taken for glutathione, malondialdehyde (MDA) for lipid peroxidation (LPO,) nitric oxide (NO,) arginase enzyme, glutathione transferase, and catalase. Also, serum protein, urea, and creatinine were tested.
The study showed that the six weeks treatment with NaNO2 increased MDA, NO, and arginase, signs of toxicity. Arginase is a sensitive marker of liver damage. Treatment with either l-arginine or l-glutamine reduced those increases. The reduction of LPO is especially important for diabetics. NaNO2 reduced blood glutathione and catalase. Treatment with l-glutamine or l-arginine increased those levels. Treatment with either the 1% or 2% doses worked.
CONCLUSION: Nitrites appear commonly as additives in food. But, carcinogenic nitrosamines are formed. The negative effects of nitrites can be reversed with glutamine or arginine supplementation.
NOTE: Arginase enzyme catalyzes the conversion of anginine and water to ornithine and urea. Lipoxygenase (LPO) enzymes catalyze the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Glutathione transferase functions in detoxification. Catalase enzyme catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. Malondialedhyde (MDA) is formed when polyunsaturated fats are oxidized.
Read about glutamine as an immunonutrient.