Category Archives: Methionine

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

What are Carnitine and Carnosine Amino Acids Used for?

There are two amino acids that often get mixed up: carnitine and carnosine. What are they and how do they differ? Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Normally, when you eat proteins your body breaks them down into their basic units, called amino acids. Then your body puts them back together in a new way to build protein in your body, such as muscles and organs, and it is used for other bodily functions as well.

Carnitine is an essential amino acid, meaning that your body cannot produce it on its own, so it must be gotten through diet, specifically from protein foods (meats, fish, and eggs have all 22 common amino acids), but can also be taken as an amino acid supplement.

Carnosine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that your body produces it on its own; therefore, it is not usually needed as a supplement.

Both carnitine and carnosine can be taken as supplements, but be careful doing so without checking with your doctor (whether separately or together) first since they can have side effects, especially if you are taking certain medications. Normal amounts of carnitine and carnosine that are gotten through food do not apply.

Carnitine and carnosine are usually connected with other amino acids:

Carnitine is synthesized from the amino acids methionine and lysine.
Carnosine is made from the amino acids histidine and alanine.

Carnitine and carnosine health benefits

Carnitine helps the body burn fat by transporting fatty acids, and it also flushes toxins out of the mitochondria within cells. Carnitine is found in concentrations within the cardiac muscle and skeletal muscles. It also could possibly aid in reducing symptoms of people with an overactive thyroid. People who have diabetic neuropathy may also find some pain relief, thanks to carnitine.

Carnosine works differently than carnitine. In effect, it is an antioxidant. It functions within the brain, nervous system, and skeletal muscles. Interestingly, this amino acid can help remove excess zinc and copper out of the body in a process known as chelation. It may also help with cataracts and speed up wound healing.

Carnitine and carnosine are complimentary for diseases

Carnitine and carnosine both have anti-aging effects, plus reduces the speed of memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) age-related patients.

Another area is autism, where the carnitine and carnosine both function to help autism as an alternative treatment. When comparing these two amino acids for autism treatment, Michael Chez, M.D., et al. (Nov 2002 Journal of Child Neurology) and Dan Rossignol, M.D., (Oct 2009 Clinical Psychiatry), reported that carnitine got a grade “B” for improving symptoms of autism, while carnosine got a grade “C” for improving communication and behavior.

These two amino acids also help improve cardiovascular function, but they do so in different ways. Carnitine reduces the symptoms of heart angina and peripheral vascular disease. Carnosine reduces the risk for developing atherosclerosis plus can help reduce cholesterol.

An important note: some physicians believe people should avoid taking D-carnitine because it can interfere with L-carnitine, which is naturally found in the body. Because of this, you should ask your physician before taking both carnitine and carnosine as supplements.

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/493759-carnosine-vs-carnitine/

Help COPD with Amino Acids for Lung Disease

According to some researchers and there are a few amino acids for lung disease that exist and may help such issues. COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is one of these lung conditions may be aided by amino acid supplements; in particular, those with even severe COPD. This lung disease affects the ability to breath and also reduces energy levels in those who have it. COPD may have different causes, but it can be a result of smoking cigarettes long term, as well as conditions such as emphysema. 

According to one study by RW Dal Negro, A Testa, et al., in Italy it was amino acids for lung disease that helped the patients with COPD. By supplementing COPD patients with certain essential amino acids they were able to determine if pulmonary rehabilitation might have improved health status and produce higher rates of physical performance.

Essential amino acids are several of the 22 commonly known amino acids. “Essential” means that they have to be gotten through diet since the body cannot produce them on its own. The list of essential amino acids may include: Valine, Threonine, Methionine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Lysine, and Histidine.

Amino acids for lung disease – chronic COPD

A total of 88 COPD out-patients who had a 23 BMI (body mass index) or less were selected randomly to receive essential amino acids for lung disease (COPD) for a period of three months. After 12 weeks of the test period the patients receiving amino acids for lung disease had showed significant improvements in physical performance.

Also, the COPD patients scored higher on the SGRQ score (which measures breathing). Additionally, other areas were affected positively, as compared to the placebo group, who had taken the essential amino acids for lung disease (COPD), including improvements in: fat-free mass, serum albumin, increased muscle strength, oxygen saturation, and cognitive dysfunction.

The results produced greater confidence levels in the patients and the researchers for improvements in these symptoms that COPD usually negatively affects its patients. Essential amino acids may, then, help reduce symptoms of COPD, so it is clear that amino acids for lung disease can aid the patient in breathing easier as well as help their physical performance in a number of areas.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23193843

Nutrition and Depression: Amino Acids Can Improve Mood

We all know the importance of eating well. The link between an unhealthy diet and obesity, heart disease, and diabetes has led to bookshelves groaning with diet and nutrition books. But nutrition also affects our mental wellbeing. Are we getting enough amino acids to maintain our mental health?

A good diet is our best weapon in the war on disease. A healthy, well-balanced diet will also help our immune systems if we do become ill. This healthy diet will help combat some mental illnesses, too.

T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, et al, explained the link between nutrition and depression in an article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. They found that the diets of many people suffering from mental disorders are deficient in essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Supplements containing amino acids have been found to reduce symptoms of depression. Some amino acids control our moods—they cross the blood-brain barrier, carrying the chemical signals in our brains. But if we are not getting the right amount, our moods are affected.

Amino acid supplements treat mood disorders

The major symptoms of depression include increased sadness and anxiety, loss of appetite, and loss of interest in pleasurable activities. Deficiencies in neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and the amino acid GABA are often present patients with depression.

The amino acids tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine are often helpful in treating mood disorders. Indeed, tryptophan is converted to serotonin–the chemical which controls happiness.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means we must get it from our food. But people with poor diets do not get enough tryptophan.

Antidepressants and other drugs are very successful at treating depression. The researchers hope that nutritional supplements containing amino acids will work with these drugs, possibly leading to lower doses, and fewer side effects. They suggest daily supplements of amino acids to help achieve an antidepressant effect.

Nutritional neuroscience gives us our best shot of preventing and treating some mental illnesses.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738337/

Essential Amino Acid Supplements and the Elderly

The world population is aging. More seniors are experiencing happy, active golden years, and many of us are caring for our elderly parents. Are there any amino acid supplements to help the elderly enjoy their lives to the fullest?

Birth rates are falling, and life expectancy is rising. In Canada today, there are as many people over the age of 65 as there are under the age of 16. This is great news for us all, as we can look forward to longer lives. But are there specific nutritional concerns we should be aware of?

Seniors are prone to muscle loss and muscle wastage, especially if they are ill or bedridden.  This muscle loss, or sarcopenia, can be debilitating, and if untreated can lead to dependence and a reduction in quality of life.

Muscle loss can be treated with a suitable exercise, healthy diet, and amino acid supplements or other supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements, are very useful for people who have lost their appetites and are not getting adequate nutrition. But can supplements treat muscle loss?

Muscles are built from protein, and protein is built from amino acids. We synthesize some of these amino acids in our bodies—the non-essential amino acids—but we must get many of them from the food we eat. These are known as essential amino acids, and these are often available as supplements.

Essential amino acid supplements – a good choice for muscle loss

Researchers (Elena Volpi, Hisamine Kobayashi, et al) published a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where they examined the amino acids responsible for stimulating muscle protein in elderly people. Healthy elderly subjects were chosen, and given essential amino acid supplements. The amino acids included:

  • histidine
  • isoleucine
  • leucine
  • lysine
  • methionine
  • phenylalanine
  • threonine
  • tryptophan
  • valine

Their muscle production was measured over time.

Results were positive. The essential amino acid supplements stimulated the production of muscle protein. The best results were from an essential amino acid supplement without carbohydrates.

Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3192452/

What Experts Say About Weight Loss and Amino Acids

There are a tremendous amount of resources online and in books that explain the health benefits to those who are trying to lose weight as it pertains to amino acid supplements; but what are some of these expert sites or doctors saying?

Are there really some amino acids that help you with weight loss better than others? Are there scientific studies to validate some of this information?

You can decide for yourself, but below I have compiled a few of these sources for you to examine.

Amino acids – a few sources for weight loss

First of all, you can read our other article called Dr Oz Weight Loss Amino Acids: L-Carnitine, L-Glutamine, and L-Arginine, which covers how these three amino acids can help you lose weight.

According to WebMD authors, Whey Protein, Amino Acids May Boost Fat Loss. This information was reliant on a study that was done and discussed by researcher Robert Coker, PhD, an associate professor of geriatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, in Little Rock.

Dr. Nicholas Perricone (MD, CNS) through the Huffington Post announces that The Top 10 Weight Loss Supplements include Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol), Glutamine, Carnitine, Acetyl L-carnitine, Coenzyme Q-10 (also called ubiquinone), Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), Chromium, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), and Maitake medicinal mushroom extract. Outside of weight loss benefits, maitake also helps regulate blood sugar levels, especially in diabetic patients.

In a sister site (but completely unrelated to Amino Acid Information) of Amino Acid Studies, three main amino acids are found—based on studies—that can help with weight loss. In their article titled Amino acids and their significance for fat burning, arginine, glutamine, and methionine are three aminos that can boost your efforts to lose weight.

These are but a few of the excellent sources that exist that are based on either scientific studies or that have experts telling us that these amino acid supplements can help you lose weight. Weight loss should always be part of a balanced diet and by eating healthy food and proper exercise, rather than focusing on fad diets or by popping pills.

It is also important to note that all 22 amino acids, whether they are essential amino acids or non-essential amino acids, are available through protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, lamb, pork, etc.), eggs, and fish.

References:

http://aminoacidinformation.com/dr-oz-weight-loss-amino-acids-l-carnitine-l-glutamine-l-arginine/

http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20121212/whey-amino-acids-fat-loss

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-nicholas-perricone/the-top-10-weight-loss-su_b_227618.html

http://www.aminoacid-studies.com/areas-of-use/fat-burning.html

Taurine for CHF – Congestive Heart Failure

Evidence is showing that taurine may help congestive heart failure (CHF). Taurine, a sulphur-containing amino acid is found in the tissues of mammals. Although the body can synthesize taurine, most often it is obtained through diet; in particular, protein foods such as meats, eggs, and fish. It is known to act as an antioxidant, helps lower blood pressure, and may help with cardiovascular health problems like: congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetic cardiomyopathy. Although double-blind long-term trials are not commonly found, it is often recommended as a treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Taurine can be synthesized from cysteine and methionine amino acids when in the presence of vitamin B6, but also is obtained through the diet. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the retina as well as the heart. This could be one of the reasons why taurine can help with congestive heart failure (CHF), due to its role within the heart muscle itself.

Congestive heart failure

For the age group of 60+ CHF is the leading cause of both hospitalization and death. Sudden death can occur due to irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrhythmia in over fifty percent of people with CHF. Congestive heart failure is not like a heart attack (sudden tissue death) since CHF is a progressive disease. It can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, increased nighttime urination, and progress to a worsening stage over time.

Left-sided failure of the heart is most common in those with CHF. It leads to limited oxygen to the bloodstream and therefore the body (pulmonary edema). For right-sided failure of the heart it causes increased pressure within the veins, retention of water and sodium, and leads to accumulation of fluid as well as swelling of the liver, abdomen, and legs. Sometimes both left-and-right-sided failure happens together.

So how does taurine affect CHF in a positive way?

Taurine and CHF

Taurine supplements can often be taken as a medicine because of its beneficial health effects in treating congestive heart failure (CHF), as well as liver disease, to help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and cystic fibrosis, among other health issues. Because it is an antioxidant it also protects cells from damage due to oxidation (chemical reactions with oxygen). Excess taurine is usually excreted by the kidneys.

Scientists are still not sure why taurine helps CHF entirely, but some evidence suggests that it improves functioning within the left ventricle (chamber) of the heart. Taurine may also improve circumstances in a heart failure situation since it helps lower blood pressure, plus calms the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system can often be overactive in people who have CHF and high blood pressure. The sympathetic nervous system responds to the stress and is responsible for the flight-or-fight response and stimulating other bodily activities in times of stress. Both the sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-fight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) and the enteric system (gastrointestinal) are the three parts of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Taurine may help with the calming of stress-related activities of the sympathetic nervous system, lower blood pressure, and help improve heart functioning in patients with congestive heart failure. Please check with your doctor as to any taurine supplements and the dosage that you can take if you have CHF.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586397/

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/conditions_treatments/conditions/congestive_heart_failure.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1024-TAURINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1024&activeIngredientName=TAURINE

Carnitine Promotes Cancer Cell Death, Treats TRAIL-Resistant Cancer

Cancer is often treated by selectively inducing cell death—apoptosis–in tumors. However, many cancers develop resistance to this apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL). Researchers are currently investigating treatments to target the TRAIL-resistant cancer cells. Will the amino acid carnitine (also called L-carnitine) become part of a new therapeutic strategy for fighting cancer?  

Researchers SJ Park, SH Park, et al, with the Graduate School of East-West Medical Science, at Kyung Hee University in South Korea, are exploring the use of carnitine as part of a combination cancer treatment.

TRAIL is a protein which kills cancer cells by causing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in tumor cells. The molecules of the TRAIL protein bind to death receptors in the cancer cells. This has been a promising anti-cancer therapy, particularly because TRAIL has no toxicity to normal cells, unlike, for example, chemotherapy.

However, many cancer cells and primary tumors are resistant to TRAIL, which means the body cannot kill the cancer cells. And some cancer cells, including highly malignant tumors, which were originally sensitive to TRAIL can become resistant after repeated exposure. Can these cancer cells become vulnerable to TRAIL again?

The researchers hoped carnitine would help. Carnitine is biosynthesized in our bodies from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine transports long-chain molecules, and enhances the expression of various proteins, including a protein which induces apoptosis (Bax).

Study shows carnitine makes cancer cells vulnerable, promotes cell death

The researchers tested a combination of carnitine and TRAIL in lung cancer cells, colon carcinoma cells, and breast carcinoma cells. Results showed that carnitine sensitizes TRAIL-resistant cancer cells to TRAIL proteins. The cancer is now vulnerable to the apoptosis-inducing proteins, and the cancer cells are killed.

The study concluded that combining carnitine with TRAIL reverses the resistance of cancer cells. Formulating a combined delivery method of carnitine and TRAIL could become a successful new therapeutic strategy to treat TRAIL-resistant cancer cells.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23068102

L-Carnitine as Neuroprotectant for Traumatic Brain Injury

Loved ones with brain injuries may find help. Carnitine (also called L-carnitine) a compounded produced by the synthesis of amino acids lysine and methionine, is used in the transportation of fatty acids to create metabolic energy from the mitochondria. As a supplement, carnitine has been used to treat a number of ailments such as heart attacks, heart failure, and diabetic neuropathy, to name a few. It is also believed to help enhance exercise performance and exert a high concentration of antioxidant effects. 

Because of carnitine’s wide range of actions, researchers at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine examined whether acetyl-L-carnitine, an acetylated form of L-carnitine, would be a beneficial treatment for traumatic injury to the brain.

According to researchers Susanna Scafidi, Jennifer Racz, Julie Hazelton, Mary McKenna and Gary Fiskum, traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death in children. Traumatic injury is characterized by irregularities in cerebral energy metabolism that start minutes to hours after initial impact of the injury. Left untreated, the injury can lead to cell death. Previous studies have found that acetyl-L-carnitine acts as a neuroprotectant for cerebral ischemia and spinal cord injury, but none have tested the treatment for traumatic brain injury.

For the experiment, the researchers hypothesized that acetyl-L-carnitine administered within 24 hours after traumatic brain injury in immature rats would improve the outcome compared to the control.

For the experiment, young rats were anesthetized with isoflurane and researchers induced traumatic injury by a controlled cortical impact to the left parietal cortex of the rats’ brains. The rats were then treated with acetyl-L-carnitine or a control saline solution at 1, 4, 12 and 23-hours after injury. The researchers then evaluated the rats behaviour a few days later using novel object recognition tests and beam walking.

The effect of acetyl-L-carnitine on symptoms of traumatic brain injury

After assessing the test results and examining the brains for cortical lesion volume, the researchers found that the injury was associated with more foot slips during the beam walking exercise when compared to normal rats.

However, the injured rats that were treated with acetyl-L-carnitine demonstrated fewer foot slips compared to the saline-treated group. The acetyl-L-carnitine group also did better on the novel object recognition test compared to the saline group, but the results were still lower when compared to an uninjured rat.

Scafidi, Racz, Hazelton, McKenna and Fiskum also found that cortical lesion volume was smaller in the acetyl-L-carnitine group than in the saline group. Based on these results, the researchers believe that treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine up to 24 hours after traumatic brain injury would be beneficial towards behavioral outcomes and lower the percentage of brain lesion volume in young rats.

They hope that additional studies will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of acetyl-L-carnitine as treatment for humans with traumatic brain injuries.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228558

L-methionine Supplements for HIV or Immune-Compromised Patients

A study from South Africa has investigated the effects of L-methionine supplements for HIV or immune-compromised patients, with positive results.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a major global public health issue. Over 25 million people have died from HIV in the past 30 years, and more people are being diagnosed every day. According to the World Health Organization, there were about 34 million people living with HIV in 2011. HIV, in a matter of a decade, can develop into AIDS, which is the most advanced form of HIV.

HIV causes the immune system to fail, which means life-threatening infections and cancers can develop. The virus affects T cells in the immune system, leading to declines in the amounts of these vital cells.  HIV specifically affects CD4 T cells, white blood cells which are an essential part of the immune system.  If untreated, HIV causes the amount of CD4 cells to drop to a critically low level. Immunity is lost.

There’s no cure for HIV, but the virus can be treated with antiretroviral drugs. These are widely available in North America, but in Africa, where most of the new cases are diagnosed, fewer people have access. Research into boosting the immune system, therefore, is a growing field.

R Van Brummelen and D du Toit, researchers with the Tshwane University of Technology, Gezina, South Africa, developed a clinical study to test L-L-methionine supplements. Would the amino acid improve the immune system of HIV infected patients?

L-methionine, one of the sulfur-containing amino acids, is important for many bodily functions.  It converts to L-cysteine in the body, when it becomes a vital antioxidant, scavenging damaging free radicals and boosting the immune system.

L-methionine tested as immune supportive supplement

The researchers designed a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. HIV patients were given either L-methionine supplements, or a placebo. Treatments continued for six months, then the patients were tested.

Results were statistically significant. In the L-methionine supplement group, CD4 counts showed a decreased level of decline, meaning the HIV was not destroying as many of these crucial cells in the immune system.

Additionally, there were no serious side effects from the treatment.

The researchers concluded that L-methionine supports the immune system, and can play a role in the treatment of immune-compromised patients.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17006600