Many people take nutritional supplements to increase their health and sports performance. Examples of these are L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate. These two nutritional supplements have become more popular over the past few years.
Both substances are made of the amino acid citrulline. While both have similar benefits, there are some key differences between them. But what are they?
Fortunately, this article will explore the differences between L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate, two popular supplements, to help you decide which is best for you. Now, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
What is L-Citrulline?
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid found in foods like watermelon, squash, nuts, chickpeas, pumpkins, and cucumbers. The body changes it into L-arginine, another amino acid necessary for nitric oxide production.
By relaxing blood vessel smooth muscle, nitric oxide helps increase blood flow and oxygen supply to working muscles during strenuous exercise.
What is Citrulline Malate?
Citrulline Malate is a combination of L-Citrulline and malic acid. The malic acid helps enhance the bioavailability of L-Citrulline by supporting its absorption in the gut.
L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate: What’s the Difference?
L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are two popular supplements often used to improve athletic performance. Both may also help promote immune function, thereby supporting overall health. Although both supplements contain the amino acid L-Citrulline, both are different.
L-Citrulline is a non-essential amino acid shown to increase nitric oxide synthesis. On the other hand, Citrulline Malate combines L-Citrulline and malic acid to make it easier to absorb and use.
While L-Citrulline is commonly utilized to improve cardiovascular health and boost the immune system, Citrulline Malate is preferred for its ability to boost athletic performance.
What is Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide is a gas that the body produces naturally. It relaxes and dilates blood vessels, improves blood flow, and lowers blood pressure. Also, it helps the body to fight off infections. It also decreases inflammation and may help boost cognitive function.
What are the Benefits of L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate?
Both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate have been shown to improve exercise performance, reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, and enhance cardiovascular health. But they offer morre than that, here are some of their benefits:
1. L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate for Boosting Performance
Studies have shown that taking L-Citrulline supplements can improve exercise performance and reduce muscle soreness and fatigue. This was shown in one study, where athletes who took L-Citrulline before a cycling test had lower fatigue levels and improved power output compared to those who took a placebo.  Citrulline Malate offers this benefit as well.
Other research has suggested that L-Citrulline may benefit cardiovascular health by improving arterial stiffness and reducing blood pressure. [2, 3]
For Citrulline Malate, a study with resistance-trained women who took Citrulline Malate before a weightlifting workout had improved upper- and lower-body performance compared to those who took a placebo. 
Citrulline Malate may improve the utilization of branched-chain amino acids during exercise. 
Also a study indicated that, Citrulline Malate supplementation was more effective than L-Citrulline for reducing muscle soreness and improving power output in athletes.  It also may have a greater effect on improving upper- and lower-body performance in resistance-trained women. 
2. L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate for Erectile Dysfunction
L-Citrulline may also help improve erectile function in men with mild to moderate conditions.  It works by increasing blood flow to the penis, which can improve the quality and duration of erections.
Citrulline Malate may also have a similar effect, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
3. L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate for High Blood Pressure
Both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate have been shown to reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. [2, 7] Both of these substances work by increasing nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide, in turn, helps relax blood vessels and improve blood flow, thereby improving blood pressure.
However, more research is needed to determine the optimal dose and duration of supplementation for this purpose.
4. L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate for Cognitive Health
Another benefit of L-Citrulline supplementation is improving cognitive function by increasing cerebral blood flow.  It also helps restore cognitive function lost due to brain ischemia. 
On the other hand, Citrulline Malate supplementation may help improve cognitive function and reduce mental fatigue.
Animal research found that giving the animals a citrulline supplement beginning at age 5 for a period of 3 months enhanced their long-term spatial memory. In addition, it increases the amounts of arginine and nitric oxide in brain tissue. As a result, Citrulline supplementation is a promising early therapy for reducing cognitive loss in Alzheimer’s disease. 
While both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate may offer benefits for cognitive health, the effects of each may vary depending on the individual and the specific use case.
5. L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate for Boosting Immunity
Citrulline Malate and L-Citrulline are two supplements that have been shown to improve immune response.
Nitric oxide (NO also aids in regulating the immune response, and recent studies suggest that L-Citrulline may improve immune function by increasing NO production.
In animal trials, supplementation with L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate improved immunological response.  Both of these drugs can potentially influence the activity of regulatory T-cells. T-cells are a kind of white blood cell that aid in the body’s defense against infection and may help fight against cancer.
While both L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate may have immune-boosting properties, the effects of each may differ depending on the individual and the specific use scenario.
L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate: Which is Better?
L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are primarily dietary supplements that provide many different benefits. They may also aid in other health conditions, such as erectile dysfunction and high blood pressure.
However, some studies have suggested that Citrulline Malate may be more effective than L-Citrulline for certain outcomes as it is more readily absorbed in the body. Hence, producing quicker effects at lower doses.
L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate: Side Effects
L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are generally safe and well-tolerated – only when taken in recommended doses. However, some may experience side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, headaches, or allergic reactions.
Both supplements may interact with certain medications. Take caution when taking medications like nitrates or drugs to treat erectile dysfunction. You should take these L-Citrulline or Citrullin Malate, along with these medications, under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
Bottom Line: L-Citrulline vs. Citrulline Malate Benefits & Side Effects
L-Citrulline and Citrulline Malate are two different forms of the amino acid citrulline. Both have been shown to boost athletic performance, lessen muscle soreness and fatigue, and improve cardiovascular health.
Also, Citrulline Malate may be more effective than L-Citrulline, especially in reducing muscle soreness and improving upper- and lower-body performance.
While people generally tolerate these supplements, they might interact with certain medications. So always follow the recommended dosage and consult your healthcare provider before adding a new supplement to your regimen.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
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- Ochiai M, Hayashi T, Morita M, et al. Short-term effects of L-citrulline supplementation on arterial stiffness in middle-aged men. Int J Cardiol. 2012;155(2):257-261. doi:10.1016/j.ijcard.2010.10.004
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- Cormio L, De Siati M, Lorusso F, et al. Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology. 2011;77(1):119-122. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2010.08.028
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- Kurauchi Y, Mokudai K, Mori A, Sakamoto K, Nakahara T, Morita M, Kamimura A, Ishii K. l-Citrulline ameliorates cerebral blood flow during cortical spreading depression in rats: Involvement of nitric oxide- and prostanoids-mediated pathway. J Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Mar;133(3):146-155. doi: 10.1016/j.jphs.2017.02.004. Epub 2017 Feb 17. PMID: 28325558.
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