Category Archives: Muscle and Joint Health

How Does Methionine Affect Bone Fractures?

According to previous studies, an elevated level of the protein amino acid homocysteine (in a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia) can hinder fracture healing. Because the essential amino acid methionine is a precursor of homocysteine and an important component in the biosynthesis of cysteine, researchers at the University of Saarland in Germany investigated if excess levels of methionine would also affect rate of bone repair.

Methionine also plays a key part in the biosynthesis of carnitine, taurine, lecithin, phosphatidylcholine and other phospholipids. An error in the conversion of methionine can lead to atherosclerosis, when fatty materials accumulate on artery walls and can cause inflammation.

For the experiment, researchers Joerg Holstein et al. divided 25 mice into two groups. One group received a diet high in methionine while the other group received a control diet that was equivalent in calories. Three weeks after methionine supplementation, the researchers anesthetized the mice using ketamine and xylazine.

They then fractured the right femur of each mouse. Four weeks after fracture, the researchers analyzed the healing process using histomorphometry and biomechanical testing. Blood samples were also taken to determine level of serum homocysteine.

The effect of amino acid methionine on bone healing

At the end of the study, Holstein, et al., found an increased level of homocysteine in the methionine group when compared to the control. Results from biomechanical testing showed no significant difference between the groups in bending stiffness of the healed bones. Results from histomorphometry analyses also did not show any significant difference between the two groups in size or tissue composition of the callus.

Based on these findings, the researchers conclude that excess methionine intake does not have a significant effect on bone repair in mice.

They further suggest that hyperhomocysteinemia does not pose a risk for inhibited fracture healing and that dietary methionine may even help regulate osteoblasts, cells that are responsible for bone formation.

They believe that additional testing will reveal the role methionine plays in bone healing.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23197225

Acetyl-L-Carnitine: Grade-A Energy Producer

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (also called N-Acetyl-L-Carnitine) is one of the body’s basic building blocks, an amino acid that is involved in the production of energy, good heart and brain function, muscle movement, the metabolism of cells and many other bodily processes.

The body is capable of converting Acetyl-L-Carnitine into the closely related L-Carnitine, a substance that turns body fat into energy. It is also able to convert in the other direction. Your body makes both of these substances in the liver and kidneys, and they are packed away for future use at various sites around the body: in skeletal muscles, brain, heart and sperm, for instance. L-Carnitine, which sometimes is less available as a nutrient than Acetyl-L-Carnitine, is very important in the body, and having a more accessible version around helps with basic bodily function.

As a supplement, this amino acid reacts on the mitochondria in the cells of the human body. Because they are so vitally involved in the production of energy, boosting their production may lend an overall increase to physical and mental health.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine also has great potential as a treatment of many forms of disease. When taken in greater amounts than normally produced in the body, according to the Internet Drug Index, it has shown itself possibly effective against a wide variety of symptoms. It might be beneficial in loss of cognitive function and loss of memory in the elderly (such as those resulting from Alzheimer’s Disease or dimentia), for instance, as well as helping to rehabilitate stroke victims. It may also help with diabetes-induced nerve pain, male infertility and age-related testosterone issues.

Overall, this vital amino acid is very important to the body’s proper function, and when used in larger doses, may even provide a preventative against many symptoms of age and poor health. To read more about Acetyl-L-Carnitine, head to Dr. Weil’s Vitamin Library.

Can Carnitine Help Enhance Exercise Performance?

Feel like your workouts aren’t going so well? Perhaps carnitine supplements may be of use to reach your fitness goals. 

The compound carnitine is synthesized from amino acids lysine and methionine. Its role is to transport fatty acids from the cytosol to the mitochondria to help break down lipids and fats in order to create metabolic energy. The majority of carnitine is found in skeletal muscle, helping maintain co-enzyme A by creating acetylcarnitine during high intensity exercise.

In a study done by Maastricht University in the Netherlands, researchers Benjamin Wall, Francis Stephens, Dumitru Constantin-Teodosiu, Kanagaraj Marimuthu, Ian Macdonald and Paul Greenhaff hypothesized that chronic ingestion of L-carnitine and carbohydrates would increase skeletal muscle total carnitine content in healthy participants, generating various positive metabolic effects of muscle carnitine loading that would lead to an improvement in high intensity exercise performance.

For the double-blind experiment, 14 healthy, athletic male participants were used. Two weeks before the start of the trial, the participants were pre-tested for maximal oxygen consumption so individual exercises could be determined to use 50% and 80% of their maximal oxygen uptake.

For the trial phase, the subjects were to undergo the experimental protocol on three occasions, 12 weeks apart. Blood samples were collected to assess blood glucose, serum insulin and plasma total cholesterol concentration. The participants exercised for 30 mins on a cycle ergometer at 50% maximal oxygen intensity, followed by 30 mins of exercise at 80% maximal oxygen consumption. Immediately after the exercises, the participants performed a 30-min work output performance test to measure endurance and performance.

After the first experimental visit, the participants were randomly assigned to two treatment groups. The control group consumed 700 mL of a beverage containing 80 grams of carbohydrate polymer twice daily for 168 days.

The experimental group consumed the same amount of beverage but with an additional 2 grams of L-carnitine tartrate, at the same frequency. On every visit, the same exercise protocol was conducted as the first visit. Blood samples and muscle biopsy samples were also collected from the participants throughout.

The effect of L-carnitine on muscle total carnitine content and exercise performance

After evaluating the data, the researchers found that after 24 weeks muscle total carnitine content was 30% more in the carnitine group than the control, meaning a 21% increase from baseline.

This is the first study conducted that demonstrated muscle carnitine content can be increased by dietary intake in humans. It also showed carnitine plays a role in the fuel metabolism of skeletal muscle, dependent on intensity of exercise.

The researchers also found that work output was 35% greater for the carnitine group compared to the control, by the end of the trial. This represented a 11% increase from baseline measures. By increasing muscle total carnitine content, muscle carbohydrate use is reduced during low intensity exercise. For high intensity exercise, muscle carnitine reduces muscle anaerobic energy due to its enhanced generation of glycolytic, pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and mitochondrial flux.

Working as a combination, these metabolic effects lead to a reduced perceived effort but increased output, helping improve exercise performance.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21224234

Amino Acids Among Anti-Aging Bio-Molecules

Amino acids are among a number of specific types of bio-molecules that help restrict the aging process. Antiaging creams and lotions and supplements are only a few ways to deal with wrinkles and skin issues from a topical advantage, but what about the rest of the body? Anti-aging mechanisms, healing and immunity, skin (our largest organ), and other biological processes require an internal process at the cellular level for really slowing the aging process.

A review by P Dabhade and S Kotwal from the University Department of Biochemistry, RTM Nagpur University, in India wrote a publication titled: Tackling the aging process with bio-molecules: a possible role for caloric restriction, food-derived nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, peptides, and minerals.

The researchers said that “Aging is a multifactorial process leading to general deterioration in many tissues and organs, accompanied by an increased incidence and severity of a wide variety of chronic, incurable, and often fatal diseases” and that these therapies “include potential dietary interventions, adherence to nutrition, hormonal and cell-based therapies, genetic manipulations, and anti-aging supplements or nutrients.” Amino acids are among them.

Amino acids help with anti-aging at the cellular level

True healing comes from within, and the anti-aging process is no different. The body regenerates at the cellular level, so aiding the body in fundamental ways is crucial to keeping the body youthful. This can mean environmental changes we can control, like one’s diet, includes eating nutrient-rich foods (many people also claim their skin was the most obvious change they noticed when they ate a raw vegan diet because the skin hydrates from underneath).

Among the supplements and nutrients that are listed for anti-aging processes includes, vitamins, minerals, peptides, as well as amino acids. Protein foods like meats can provide all 22 amino acids since aminos are the building blocks of protein. Eating whey protein and eggs provide essential amino acids to the body, but extending the lifespan can get more detailed. The researchers who published the review named above focused mainly on these strategies for slowing down the aging process: caloric restriction, good food, and nutritional supplements, among which include amino acids.

Amino acids that are specifically good for anti-aging

Some of the amino acids below serve specific functions in the body:

Taurine helps repair muscle tissue, which tends to wane in the elderly

Creatine is produced by L-arginine and methionine, which come from carnitine, and help produce healthy skin.

L-arginine also helps reduce inflammation and erectile dysfunction (ED), and serves as a metabolism booster.

L-carnitine and carnosine help support cardiovascular health– carnitine helps with skin health, weight management, and energy, plus reduces peripheral vascular disease symptoms and heart angina, while carnosine lowers cholesterol and also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

L-glutamine stores sugar as glycogen instead of fat in the body, and is important for skin health.

Cysteine is a powerful detoxifier and required along with glutamine and glycine in order to make glutathione. The Washington Times called the amino acid glutathione an anti-aging machine!

Aging is progressive, irreversible, and a universal human phenomenon. Utilizing amino acids and other supplements may help protect against damage to molecules such as proteins, DNA, lipids, organs, and our cells protects against diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Taking amino acids, among other supplements, and eating a healthy diet aids cellular mechanisms and may help you live longer. Please check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23451844

http://www.studymode.com/essays/Submission-619316.html

http://aminoacidinformation.com/?s=anti-aging

Food that Contain Cysteine and Methionine

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein foods our bodies break down the proteins into their respective amino acids, and then builds them back up into new proteins that help build muscle and organs and help run other functions in the body. The amino acids cysteine and methionine are needed by the body as well, and can be gotten from certain foods.

Benefits of methionine amino acid

Methionine is a sulfur-containing and proteinogenic amino acid. It provides sulfur for the hair, skin, and nails plus lowers cholesterol and provides protection for the kidneys. It can also prevent liver damage from taking too much acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Methionine can increase acidity in the urine, improve wound healing, and treat various liver disorders. Other uses for methionine include treating copper poisoning, alcoholism, depression, allergies, asthma, side effects from radiation, drug withdrawal, schizophrenia, and even Parkinson’s disease.

Benefits of cysteine amino acid

Cysteine helps protect the liver against long-term effects of alcohol use, specifically from the poison acetaldehyde (a by-product of alcohol metabolism), although it does not reduce drunkenness. Cysteine is also an antioxidant and therefore fights free radicals in the body. It can help with treating diabetes, colitis (an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), plus may treat cardiovascular disease, angina, flu, chronic bronchitis, inflammation, and osteoarthritis.

This sulfur-containing amino acid is synthesized only when methionine is in the body, therefore it is connected to methionine in this way and is why both cysteine and methionine are usually taken together through dietary supplementation. This is why it is important to eat foods that contain both cysteine and methionine so that they can complement one another for proper health benefits.

Foods high in cysteine and methionine

Methionine and cysteine work in tandem in the body, with cysteine particularly being dependent upon the presence of methionine to be produced and work in the body.

Food sources for both methionine and cysteine…

Methionine Cysteine
nuts
eggs
spinach
mushrooms
broccoli
potatoes
fish/tuna
meats*
seeds
almonds
parmesan cheese
brazil nuts
wheat germ
peanuts
chickpea
corn
pintos
lentils
medium-grained brown rice
milk
eggs
red peppers
onions
broccoli
oats
whey protein
meats*
cottage cheese
yogurt
ricotta
garlic
brussels sprouts
granola
wheat germ
sprouted lentils

*chicken, pork, turkey, duck, cured/dried or ground beef, bacon, in particular

Be sure to talk to your doctor before making any extreme or unusual modifications to your diet.

References:

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-42-methionine.aspx?activeingredientid=42&activeingredientname=methionine

http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/L-Cysteine.htm

http://nutrition.nutricia.com/conditions/sulphite-oxidase-deficiency

All About Protein for Kids

What are proteins? If you are a kid or just want to learn all about protein in a simple way, then below is a simple explanation of what proteins are and why you need to eat them. Proteins help your body stay strong and builds muscle and other tissues (like organs and immune system) in your body. Some foods contain protein, such as beef, pork, fish, eggs, dairy products (like milk or cheese), nuts (like peanuts or peanut butter, almonds, walnuts) and seeds, as well as legumes (beans, lentils).

Your body knows all about protein because it uses specialized protein molecules to do certain tasks. For example, your body uses protein to make a part of your blood (red blood cells) that carries oxygen through your veins to all the other parts of your body; this part of the red blood cells is called hemoglobin. Another special part that protein is used for is to help keep the cardiac (heart) muscle strong. Proteins make your body parts–like legs and arms and organs–moving and keeps your immune system strong so you don’t catch diseases or get sick.

About protein and amino acids

If you eat protein, like a hamburger patty, then your digestive juices from your stomach and intestines start working to break the protein down into smaller parts called amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Then these amino acids can be used to make more proteins that help maintain your muscles, blood, bones, and organs.

At Kids Health they describe proteins as being like “long necklaces with differently shaped beads. Each bead is a small amino acid. These amino acids can join together to make thousands of different proteins.” There are over 200 different kinds of amino acids (“beads”) but only about 22 amino acids are common. About 13 of these amino acids are called non-essential amino acids because your body makes them automatically, but the other nine amino acids your body must get from food, so these are called essential amino acids (like arginine or leucine).

About protein types – complete and incomplete proteins

Complete proteins that have all nine essential amino acids come from animal sources, like meats and dairy. Vegetable sources of protein tend to be incomplete, however. If you want to know about protein sources that are both from vegetables and that are complete proteins you simply need to mix certain types of foods. Combining certain foods helps vegetarians (people who do not eat meat) get all their essential amino acids without eating animals or their products.

For example, some protein-rich vegetable-source foods that can be combined includes eating beans a rice, which are a staple food around the world for many developing countries. Another example is eating whole-grain bread and peanut butter together.

About proteins – how much do you need?

If you know how much you weigh then you can figure out just how much protein your body actually needs. Kids need about a half of a gram of protein for each pound (.5 kilograms) they weigh. That means they need a gram for every two pounds. If you weight 70 lbs then you need about 35 grams of protein each day. Adults usually need about 60 grams each day of protein.

Make sure you eat a balanced diet and if you want to see a chart about protein grams in food you can check this one out from the Moms Who Think website: http://www.momswhothink.com/diet-and-nutrition/high-protein-foods.html

References:

http://kidshealth.org/kid/nutrition/food/protein.html

http://www.momswhothink.com/diet-and-nutrition/high-protein-foods.html

Amino Acid Glycine Protects Muscles From Cancer Cachexia

Can the non-essential amino acid glycine become part of a treatment to improve quality of life for cancer patients? An animal study from Australia found some promising results.

Cachexia is a wasting syndrome, characterized by loss of weight, muscle atrophy, and loss of body mass which cannot be reversed by simply consuming more nutrition. This loss of body mass is often caused by cancer, often end-stage or advanced cancer. Cancer cachexia greatly affects quality of life, and can often hasten the patient towards their death. Cachexia is probably responsible for about 20 per cent of cancer deaths.

Cancer cachexia is caused by inflammation, the body’s complex response to harmful stimuli, such as cancer, as the body tries to destroy the cancer cells. Inflammation causes pain, and often swelling and loss of function. New treatments to reduce inflammation, which would also improve cancer therapies, are being researched globally.

D Ham, K Murphy, et al, researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, developed an animal trial to see if the amino acid glycine could become part of a safe, non-toxic treatment for cancer-induced muscle wastage.

Glycine is not an essential part of the human diet, as we synthetize it in our bodies from the amino acid serine. It is a neurotransmitter, but has other important effects too. It plays a role in detoxification, and could be an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It is glycine’s anti-inflammatory qualities that the researchers wanted to test.

Glycine protects muscle wastage – may be used for cachexia in cancer patients

Cachexia was induced in mice, which were then injected with glycine, alanine, or citrulline every day for 21 days. After this, selected muscles, tumors, and fat tissues were studied.

The glycine had impressive results. The mice given glycine had much less fat and muscle wastage, and less inflammation. Oxidative stress was also reduced.

The researchers concluded that glycine protected skeletal muscle from wastage and loss of function caused by cancer. They hope that in future, safe, non-toxic glycine treatments to protect against cancer cachexia will be developed.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23835111

Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids Cysteine and Methionine

The two main sulfur-containing amino acids are cysteine and methionine; however, there are other sulfur-containing amino acids as well. Both cysteine and methionine are nonpolar as well as hydrophobic, with methionine being extremely hydrophobic as far as amino acids go. Methionine is also found inside proteins, and cysteine is often found there too. There are some other fascinating things about these two (and other) sulfur-containing amino acids.

Aside from methionine and cysteine being most popularly known, other commonly known sulfur-containing amino acids include homocysteine and taurine. The last two are not incorporated into proteins, however. According to the authors at the Journal of Nutrition (JN), the “difference accounts for some of the distinctive properties of the sulfur-containing amino acids. Methionine is the initiating amino acid in the synthesis of virtually all eukaryotic proteins … [and if] exposed, are susceptible to oxidative damage. Cysteine, by virtue of its ability to form disulfide bonds, plays a crucial role in protein structure and in protein-folding pathways.”

The authors of JN discuss a number of these sulfur-containing amino acids—methionine, cysteine, taurine, homocysteine, and the lesser known S-adenosylmethionine.

Importance of sulfur-containing amino acids

Although cysteine and methionine are the primary sulfur-containing amino acids due to being two of the 22 common amino acids that are incorporated within proteins, both taurine and homocysteine are also important for physiological function. So why is sulfur in amino acids since most aminos are made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen? Because, says JN, oxygen and sulfur both belong to ‘Group 6’ of the Periodic Table of Elements, so are “capable of making similar covalent linkages” with a critical difference that sulfur has a low electronegativity (oxygen has the second lowest electronegativity). So if oxygen replaces the sulfur it would “result in a much less hydrophobic amino acid.”

Furthermore, substituting oxygen for sulfur—causing oxidation—in sulfur-containing amino acids (including in the more rare S-adenosylmethionine) can have effects in methionine residues where the surface is exposed, causing an oxidation-reduction cycle, imparing the activity of “methionine sulfoxide reductase and the subsequent accumulation of methionine sulfoxide residues [that] are associated with age-related diseases, neurodegeneration, and shorter lifespan.”

Lastly taurine, as one of the more remarkable sulfur-containing amino acids, has very high concentrations within muscle tissues and utilizes a wide variety of functions. Taurine is, says JN, the “most abundant free amino acid in animal tissues [even though it] accounts for only 3% of the free amino acid pool in plasma, it accounts for 25%, 50%, 53%, and 19%, respectively, of this pool in liver, kidney, muscle, and brain.” It is also one of the most necessary sulfur-containing amino acids for cats and results retinal degeneration in kittens if the mothers are not fed a taurine-rich diet. Taurine is also found in human mother’s milk and is added to many infant formulas because it helps with eyesight.

So all in all, sufur-containing amino acids are necessary for proper health of both animals and humans in the proper biological functioning and growth, as well being associated with some diseases and anti-aging and neurological issues.

Reference:

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/6/1636S.full

Amino Acids for Women who Exercise

When it comes to women, amino acids definitely have their place as far as supplements go. Amino acids play a crucial role in women’s health because they are the building blocks of proteins, and affect hair, bone, skin, and even hormones and exercise, plus muscles, tissues and organs. There are some amino acid supplements for women that you can take to aid exercising regimes, which can be purchased at supermarkets or vitamin shops.

Amino acids supplements

Amino acids for women are the same as they are for men. There are 22 amino acids that are broken down into these categories: essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids, as well as semi-essential or conditional aminos. Amino acids can be taken in the form of capsules but they also come from protein foods like meats (beef, lamb, fish, chicken, turkey, pork, and even eggs) and dairy, beans, and nuts.

Taking amino acids for women can help boost fat burning and muscle building, and should be taken along with proper exercise and a healthy diet in order to keep a fit physique and lean and strong muscles.

Amino Acids for Women:

L-arginine:
L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide (NO), which helps keep the body healthy. L-arginine also dilates blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the muscles for fat burning. Arginine also boosts HGH (human growth hormone) that comes from the pituitary gland. HGH also helps with women who have low testosterone levels, which does less for muscle burning, but more for fat burning. 3-5g in the morning and a half an hour before bed or exercise will do the trick.

L-glutamine:
Another of the amino acids for women is L-glutamine, which enhances the recovery time for muscles after they’ve been used or damaged. Glutamine also helps with energy, fat burning, and boosts immunity. If you are dieting or doing some really intense workouts you can lose muscle and metabolic function, but glutamine protects lean muscle from breaking down when the muscles are stressed. Stressed muscles can trigger the cortisol-connection. Cortisol, which is a stress hormone, can actually stop fat burning and promote the storage of fat in those troublesome areas like the buttocks, hips, and thighs.

L-carnitine:
One of the well-known amino acids for women is L-carnitine. Carnitine plays a role in energy production (co-factor). Cells cannot make energy without carnitine’s help because it is what transports fatty acids into the mitochondria, which in turn produce the energy. Carnitine is also one of those amino acids for women with the nitric oxide connection, which is a systemic gas that helps bring faster results when working out in the gym. Heart health is also boosted in women, thanks to carnitine, since the heart muscle requires heavy energy production so it can beat efficiently. You can take 1-3g of carnitine up to three times per day.

Beta-Alanine:
Beta-alanine is also one of the amino acids for women that I will cover today. Beta-alanine increases the intramuscular levels of L-carnosine (don’t confuse it with L-carnitine above). Carnosine buffers lactic acid levels in the cells of muscles. Lactic acid is what builds up and makes your muscles feel sore after an extra-long or extra-hard workout or muscle contraction. Lactic acid makes you feel the “burn” in the muscles. Carnosine buffers and allows you to work harder or longer in the gym. Taking beta-alanine also can be taken with creatine to further boost body fat loss and muscle building. Take 1-3 g just before and after your workouts.

BCAA’s:
Last but not least, BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acids) are also amino acids for women, which helps the female body to lose weight fater. BCAA’s help prevent muscle breakdown by keeping the supply needed by working muscles in check. This is important since they fuel muscles directly for energy, while also triggering lean muscle building and the burning of fat. 3-5g of BCAA’s can be taken before and after workouts.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/267249-amino-acid-supplements-for-women/

Amino Acid L-Citrulline in Watermelon Can Help Athletes Recover Faster

Could watermelon juice help you with sore muscles? Could it help improve athletic performance by enabling muscles repair faster?  Scientists Tarazona, Alacid, Carrasco, Martinez and Aguayo studied this topic in Murcia, Spain, and came to this conclusion.

The key ingredient that does the job is the amino acid L-Citrulline.  It has been used as a dietary supplement for decades and is believed to boost athletic performance.  L-Citrulline is abundant in watermelon, and juicing it will make a lot of it available without having to eat a whole watermelon!  Watermelon is an ideal source for L-Citrulline because it is more bioavailable, meaning that your body can take advantage of it better than if you consumed it as a dietary supplement.

Pickles, Cherry or Watermelon Juice – Sore Muscles Begone!

According to recent reports, drinking watermelon juice helps muscles get more oxygen, which enables them to repair themselves faster.  This boosts recovery time and may enable athletes to continue exercising sooner.  L-Citrulline and watermelon juice also provide relief for sore muscles.  Pickle juice has traditionally been a home remedy for muscle soreness, and tart cherry juice has helped minimize inflammation, reduce muscle damage and limit muscle pain.

Spanish researchers also found that watermelon juice didn’t only help with muscle soreness but helped reduce the recovery heart rate.

How much watermelon juice should you drink?  It depends.  This particular study was conducted by giving athletes 500ml or half-a-liter (16.7 ounces) of either watermelon juice or watermelon juice enriched with additional L-Citrulline.  Both versions of the watermelon juice produced the described results within a 24-hour-period.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23862566

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/watermelon-juice-sore-muscles-soreness_n_3757009.html