OKG stands for ornithine ketoglutarate. This is a particular supplement for athletes, composed by two molecules of ornithine and one of alpha-ketoglutarate. It is used mostly by bodybuilders, to increase and maintain muscles volume. Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate can also be used as medicine to treat and prevent many conditions. In fact it can help in case of burns, impaired growth in children, malnutrition and other problems.
What is Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate is a supplement used mostly by athletes. Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate is obtained from the union of one molecule of ornithine and two of alpha-ketoglutarate, the salt of ketoglutaric acid. It is used by athletes, because it helps the body to synthesize proteins, so it’s useful to increase muscles volume and to prevent its loss during rest periods. OKG supplements are also used as a medicine to treat many conditions. This substance in fact is particularly helpful in case of burns, impaired growth in children, immune system depression, and other problems.
The effects of Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate are related to glutamine. In fact both ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate are precursor to glutamate, which can be converted in another amino acid, glutamine. Amino acids are normally used by our body to many functions; for example they can be catabolized to obtain energy through the Krebs cycle, or can be used to get new molecules of glucose through gluconeogenesis, or ketonic bodies under fasting conditions. A specific enzymatic group, transaminase, remove the amino group from amino acids and give it to an acceptor, which is alpha-ketoglutarate. This compound is therefore transformed in glutamate, while the remaining part of the amino acid is used for ketogenesis. Then glutamate in the liver is deprived of ammonia, which is carried into the urea cycle. In fact ammonia must be necessarily removed from the body in form of urea. Ammonia is introduced into carbamoyl phosphate molecule, then this is accepted by ornithine, forming citrulline. This amino acid then is linked to aspartate to form argininosuccinate, which is split in arginine and fumarate. Then arginine can be hydrolyzed to obtain ornithine and urea. Urea is the catabolite of this cycle, and it can be released into the blood, then is carried to the kidneys, where it can be eliminated through urines. So OKG is very important to prevent an accumulation of urea into the body.
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate benefits
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate supplements are used by athletes to increase muscle mass, strength and vigor, and to prevent muscular volume loss. OKG can also be used to treat many problems and diseases, as:
- Impaired growth in children
- Wound healing
- Mental conditions due to liver failure
- Muscle loss after surgery
- Muscle weakness in elderly people
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate and foods
Ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate can be normally produced by our body, but they can also be introduced through supplements and foods. In particular, foods rich in ornithine are:
- Dairy products
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate properties
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate supplements are useful for their properties. In fact they stimulate protein synthesis, so they are able to increase muscular mass and to prevent its loss at rest. Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate has also an anabolic effect, because it stimulates tissue growth.
Another important aspect of OKG regards the immune system; in fact this supplement is particularly helpful to boost defensive functions of the body. For these features OKG can be largely used for many reasons, for example after surgery or in patients in coma to prevent the loss of muscle tone an protein breakdown. It can also use to heal wounds, especially in case of burns, to reduce healing time. Other fields of action include cases of malnutrition or ammonia intoxication, for the fact that OKG helps to remove the excess of ammonia from the body through urea cycle. Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate can be also used to regenerate the skin, helping to prevent the appearance of wrinkles.
Ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate has been used both enterally and parenterally in burn, trauma, surgical and chronically malnourished patients. It appears to decrease protein catabolism and/or increase protein synthesis under these conditions. OKG is a popular nutritional supplement for athletes, among others. Some studies has shown OKG to increase growth hormone levels, but it is not known if this will help the athlete. The most interesting aspect of Ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate is that it helps to increase the levels of glutamine in the muscle cells. As I mentioned in my article about glutamine, high glutamine levels have a very anti-catabolic effect, especially in people under severe stress such as hard training or fasten.
Ornithine Alpha-Ketoglutarate side effects
Ornithine and alpha-ketoglutarate are both naturally present and produced by the body, so they don’t cause generally many side effects. Obviously an excessive consume of OKG supplements can lead to some problems, as diarrhea, abdominal pain or bloating.