Category Archives: Glycine

Part 1: Eating Insects for Your Daily Amino Acids?

Pull up a chair and have a plate of bugs for breakfast?! Although this is not unrealistic or uncommon in most of the world, entomophagy (eating insects for food) brings a feeling of disgust for many in western societies, and a sourpuss face along with it! But eating insects is common to animals (insectivores), even other insects, as well as humans, and for good reasons.

Eating insects of many kinds brings to light the simple fact that they are full of protein and nutrition, and help sustain life. Vitamins, minerals, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, oleic acid, and amino acids are only part of the full story.

In fact, bugs may wind up being a part of the human diet in the future, as it is currently in many countries, and has been prehistorically commonplace for hominids, hominins (human line), throughout time.

The big questions about eating insects include…

What amino acids are present in bugs and are they available to the human body? Exactly what nutritional content is covered for human requirements by consuming edible insects? Eating insects may be good for you, but do they taste good?

According to my daughter, who went to Peru with my mom and some friends and ate a large white grub that is a common to the area for consumption, it tasted lovely, just like an almond. She said, “It tasted good!” However, she also nearly gagged and spit it out. Why? The texture was “too mushy,” she said. The last thing she was thinking about was the amino acid content of the grub! *smiles*

Eating insects raw, such as her raw grub from Peru, are not always necessary. Most people around the world eat them raw as well as roasted, baked, smoked, fried, boiled in salted water, and dried or sun-dried. Of course, most Americans have heard of chocolate covered ants or grasshoppers as a delicacy dessert (or given as a joke, although is a serious meal in other countries). Each method of preparation makes eating insects a different experience, taste, texture, and can be the difference between it tasting good or wanting to spit it out on the ground from whence it came.

Who wants to eat bugs anyway? Lots of people, especially considering they are as easy to scavenge as they are to grow and raise for food, and is easier than gardening or raising small livestock. It is also cheaper than buying food at the grocery store, although bugs-on-a-stick (or loose) of many varieties can be purchased at local markets in many countries, like is often seen in China or Thailand.

The fact is that many grubs, larvae, grasshoppers, caterpillars, termites, palm weevils, mealworms, and other bugs are packed with nutrition such as potassium, calcium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, manganese, and copper according to the FAO. Eating insects can also supply you with necessary iron and amino acids like lysine, things that vegans and vegetarians are often deficient in.

CONTININUE READING Part 2: Eating Insects for Your Daily Amino Acids?

Reference:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00805837

http://www.organicvaluerecovery.com/studies/studies_nutrient_content_of_insects.htm

http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3253e/i3253e06.pdf

Amino Acids and Gut Health – Glutamine and Other Aminos

There are a number of amino acids that affect the intestines and are necessary for proper functioning. Several amino acids and gut health are connected; in particular, glutamine (which I will cover more in-depth below), arginine, glutamate, glycine, threonine, lysine, as well as sulfur-containing aminos. These amino acids and gut functioning are important because they act as fuels for mucosa in the small intestine, and also for the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), intestinal proteins, polyamines, and other products that are necessary for health. Amino acids come from protein foods like meats, fish, and eggs, or from taking supplements. 

What this means—according to a study by WW Wang, SY Quiao, and DF Li—is that glutamine and the other amino acids and gut-promoting effects from these aminos are not only “critical for the absorption of nutrients” but also are required for the “gut integrity, growth, and health in animals and humans.”

The researchers show that amino acids and gut health, in particular, indicate both trophic and cytoprotective effects. Trophic means relating to feeding and nutrition, and cytoprotective means it protects the cells from noxious chemicals and other things that would otherwise bother the intestinal tract and cause health problems.

Amino acids and gut health includes glutamine

According to the researchers RR van der Hulst, MF von Meyenfeldt, and PB Soeters, one of the essential amino acids and gut nutrients is glutamine. This non-essential amino acid (meaning your body can produce it, even though you can also get it through protein foods and supplements), is “an important nutrient for rapidly dividing cells such as cells from the immune system and the gut.”

There are a few conditions that can also cause a lack of glutamine, which can, according to the scientists, result in “functional disturbances of the immune system and/or the gut. Glutamine is produced mainly by the muscle tissue. A decrease in muscle mass during nutritional depletion may result in decreased glutamine production capacity. Furthermore during critical illness, there is an increased demand for glutamine probably as a result of an increased utilization by the immune system.”

Additionally, glutamine as one of the amino acids and gut nutritives, is important because it prevents toxins and/or bacteria from migrating from the gut lumen (the hollow part of the intestine) into the circulation of the system. Not having enough glutamine can deteriorate this barrier within the intestine and would, in this case, require supplementation of glutamine.

Lastly, glutamine (or other amino acids and gut health) may need to be supplemented in case of nutritional depletion, parenteral nutrition, or even critical illness.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18670730

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8974125

The Youthful Old: Amino Acids are Among Methods Used for Anti-Aging

As the older generations get older they turn to what works for helping reverse the aging process. As we age our bodies’ cells stop regenerating at the same rate they used do, and things slowly start deteriorating. Entropy takes a hold, and wrinkles appear, skin thins and loses elasticity, and our bodies do not work quite as efficiently as they used to. Tonics and television ads announcing the next “fountain of youth” seem to have the next best thing, but what does science actually test in their studies, and what actually works? Evidently amino acids, among a list of other things, are among the many tools and methods people can use to help reduce the signs of aging and bring some vitality and life back to an old soul.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They perform functions in our bodies that are necessary at just about every level, from tissues and organs, skin and hair, muscles and the immune system. All 22 amino acids come from protein foods, but some are actually created by our bodies (non-essential amino acids) while others must be gotten from food (essential amino acids). This would include meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, and beans.

Anti-aging with bio-molecules and amino acids

According to P Dabhade and S Kotwall, the way to help slow down or reverse the aging process starts with the process of bio-molecues. To help avoid incurable or chronic or even fatal diseases, slow the aging process, as well as improving quality of life, the researchers who reviewed some bio-molecules that are part of anti-aging therapies. Some of the interventions were dietary and included:

Adherence to nutrition
Anti-aging supplements/nutrients (e.g., amino acids)
Genetic manipulations
Hormonal therapies
Cell-based therapies

Skin treatments contain amino acids

Researchers M Ooe, T Seki, et al., did a comparative evaluation of different treatments for wrinkles. Since noninvasive cosmetic surgery and aesthetics were common, but nothing existed for how to treat the wrinkles themselves, they compared four wrinkle treatment methods, including amino acids:

YAG laser treatment
CT-atRA external application
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
Nutritional therapy with amino acid supplements

The results were that all four procedures, which were minimally invasive, had “demonstrated statistically significant improvement in the degree of wrinkle. As for the subjective assessment of VAS, all four treatments demonstrated equivalent satisfaction.” The bottom line is that amino acids may actually help get rid of wrinkles rather than just covering them up topically.

Dr. Oz on which amino acids are anti-aging

So of these methods for anti-aging, which amino acids actually can help with the process? Well, Dr. Oz says that there are five ways to supercharge your body in five days, and amino acids are one of them.

Says Dr. Oz, and HGH levels (Human Growth Hormone, which also may help the antiaging effect) mentioned in a study, that “a special blend of four amino acids has the potential to spike HGH levels by more than 600%. To boost your HGH levels naturally, try taking this supplement that researchers have deemed the most powerful anti-aging amino acid combination.”

These four naturally anti-aging amino acids include:

Arginine (give you energy, regulates blood pressure, keeps heart from working as hard, may help lower body fat)

Glycine (supports muscles, helps you store energy, helps you sleep)

Lysine (helps your body make energy from fatty foods)

Ornithine (gives you energy by removing toxins out of your body)

Dr. Oz recommends an amino acid complex that has a combination of at least 2000 mg of these amino acids.

If you have any questions regarding amino acid supplements please talk with your physician or naturopath.

References:

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23397058

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/supercharge-your-body-5-ways-5-days?page=4

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

Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Amino Acids Cysteine, Glycine and Histidine

Inflammation in the body is like fire in the veins! But can inflammation be “cooled off” by the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and histidine? Inflammation is characterized as the bodily response of vascular tissues to unsafe stimuli. 

Such stimuli may include pathogens, irritants or damaged cells. Symptoms can vary in cases of inflammation, but the most common signs are redness, heat, swelling, pain, and loss of function in the affected area.

Because inflammation is a discomfort that affects a majority of the population at one time or another, researchers at Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan set out to examine the anti-inflammatory effects of the amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine.

Researchers S. Hasegawa, et al., report that nuclear factor-kappa B is a system that regulates endothelial activation. They explain that nuclear factor-kappa B is induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha in vascular endothelial cells, and it is this process that can lead to inflammation and disorders such as atherosclerosis.

The researchers wanted to test the anti-inflammatory effects in coronary endothelial cells since results from previous studies ended inconclusively. They hypothesize that amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine would produce inhibitory effects on nuclear factor-kappa B activation in human coronary arterial endothelial cells.

The effect of amino acids cysteine, glycine and histidine on inflammation in endothelial cells

For the study Hasegawa et al. took human coronary arterial endothelial cell cultures and treated them with either alanine, cysteine, glycine and histidine amino acids. They stimulated the cultures with 2 ng/mL of tumour necrosis factor-alpha before taking out nuclear extracts to determine their concentrations of proteins and nuclear factor-kappa B.

They found that without treatment, the cultures showed significant activation of nuclear factor-kappa B. But with pretreatment of cysteine, glycine and histidine, nuclear factor-kappa B activation was inhibited significantly in the coronary endothelial cells. Alanine did not have an effect on the activation, demonstrating no anti-inflammatory properties.

Overall, cysteine showed the most inhibiting effects out of the tested amino acids at any concentration. They also found that the amino acids inhibited E-selectin expression, a cell adhesion molecule that plays an important role in inflammation.

Based on these results, the researchers conclude that cysteine, glycine and histidine can help reduce inflammation to the endothelial cells.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22236003

The Importance of GABA Amino Acid for the Central Nervous System

The human central nervous system is controlled by the brain. The brain’s neurotransmitters and receptor sites are affected either by how inhibited or excited the amino acids GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate (glutamic acid) are. Of all the neurotransmitters within the central nervous system, amino acids are considered some of the most plenteous.

Steven M Paul write about “GABA and Glycine” and their role in the central nervous system. Amino acids have been shown in studies, he says, to “support current dogma that the majority of neurons in the mammalian brain utilize either glutamate or g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) as their primary neurotransmitters. [And] … GABA and glutamate serve to regulate the excitability of virtually all neurons in brain and, not surprisingly, therefore have been implicated as important mediators of many critical physiological as well as pathophysiological events that underlie brain function and/or dysfunction.”

There are studies in pharmacology on utilizing drugs that either block or enhance what GABA or glutamate, which according to Steven M Paul, supports that these neurotransmitters “by virtue of their often opposing excitatory and inhibitory actions, control, to a large degree, the overall excitability” of the central nervous system.

What this means, is that drugs (such as for schizophrenia, neurological diseases, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) that inhibit what GABA does may decrease what glutamate may excite, or vice versa. This means there needs to be a balance between inhibition and excitation in the “drugs which are known to alter GABAergic or glutamatergic neurotransmission).”

GABA amino acid is important to the central nervous system and spinal column

In a study done by J Yowtak, J Wang, et al., at the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Texas, the neuropathic pain model in mice was studied regarding the antioxidant treatment on GABA neurons in the spinal column. The researchers suggested “that oxidative stress impaired some spinal GABA neuron activity in the neuropathic pain condition. Together the data suggest that neuropathic pain, at least partially, is attributed to oxidative stress which induces both a GABA neuron loss and dysfunction of surviving GABA neurons.”

Between the study above and the one spoken of by Steven M Paul, it is likely that all of the updated information on GABA, glutamate, or glycine will hopefully, as Paul states, “result in an even better understanding of their potential role(s) in various neuropsychiatric disorders and in the discovery even more of effective therapeutic agents.”

Certainly our central nervous system is dependent upon GABA and these other amino acids. It is no wonder that they are used in pharmaceutical drugs to enhance and inhibit certain neurotransmitters to help the body function properly.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23880056

http://www.acnp.org/g4/gn401000008/

Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid

3-Letter

1-Letter

Alanine

Ala

A

Arginine

Arg

R

Asparagine

Asn

N

Aspartic acid

Asp

D

Cysteine

Cys

C

Glutamic acid

Glu

E

Glutamine

Gln

Q

Glycine

Gly

G

Histidine

His

H

Isoleucine

Ile

I

Leucine

Leu

L

Lysine

Lys

K

Methionine

Met

M

Phenylalanine

Phe

F

Proline

Pro

P

Serine

Ser

S

Threonine

Thr

T

Tryptophan

Trp

W

Tyrosine

Tyr

Y

Valine

Val

V

Aspartic acid or Asparagine

Asx

B

Any amino acid

Xaa

X

Termination codon

TERM

For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Class/MLACourse/Modules/MolBioReview/iupac_aa_abbreviations.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid#In_human_nutrition

http://www.newbornscreening.info/Parents/aminoaciddisorders/MSUD.html

How Many Amino Acids are there – 20, 22, or 200?

For a while it was thought that there were only 20 amino acids, and many websites still reflect this today, but in fact, a couple of more rare aminos were discovered making a total of 22 amino acids. But how many amino acids are there really? 

The real question is how many amino acids exist beyond the 22 we know of SO FAR, and what about other types of amino acids? The reality is that amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of the body, are in abundance within the body. They are sources of energy such as carbohydrates and fats, except that amino acids contain nitrogen (N); because of this they play a role in forming muscles, tissues, organs, skin, and even hair.

Amino acids act as the precursors to neurotransmitters in the brain and enzymes that help with things like digestion. Amino acids are essential for health, and basically regulate the body’s metabolic processes. There are hormones that are made up of amino acids, antibodies too, so they affect the immune system. Plus they transport oxygen and nutrients in the body.

How Many Kinds of Amino Acids are there?

Different amino acids have different functions. How many amino acids, types, or kinds that exist depend on whether they are:

Essential
Non-essential
Semi-essential

How Many Essential Amino Acids Are There?

How many amino acids are “essential” (meaning you must get them from food)? They are listed as: arginine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.

Essential amino acids are available in mixes as BCAAs. The specific aminos included are often leucine, isoleucine, and valine. You can get BCAA powders from Beamzen.

How Many Amino Acids are Non-Essential

How many amino acids are “non-essential” (meaning your body makes them)? These are listed as: alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

However, how many amino acids from one of the above groups are actually conditional or “semi-essential” amino acids? These are: arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

There are 22 Amino Acids

These above are the 20 more well-known amino acids; however, just how many amino acids exist actually are counted as being over 200 in numbers, but the 22 proteinogenic amino acids are the ones that are commonly known.

These more commonly known aminos can be found in food (all meat such as beef, pork, chicken, seafood, and even eggs are excellent sources of all 22 amino acids). They can also be bought as amino acid supplements individually or as a complex of many in balanced forms for their health benefits.

How many amino acids have you had in your diet today?

Reference:

http://aminoacidstudies.org/#sthash.51ThyP74.dpuf

http://www.nutriology.com/aaessnoness.html

Selenium and Selenocysteine and Health

Selenium is a nonmetal element on the periodic table (between sulfur and tellurium), while Cysteine is a semi-essential amino acid. But when Selenium performs its biological functions, it does so through selenoproteins. Selenoproteins have selenium in them as the form of the 21st amino acid, selenocysteine (also called Sec), which is a cysteine analog. Selenocysteine is encoded by the UGA codon (one of three) in mRNA translation for non-selenoprotein genes. Selenocysteine is a proteinogenic amino acid.

Unlike the 20 regular amino acids (both essential and non-essential) selenocysteine is biosynthesized on its tRNA from the amino acid serine. Interestingly, there are 25 selenoproteins, like selenocysteine and selenomethionine (the latter of which replaces methionine amino acid residues, and is sometimes randomly substituted for methionine), which are encoded in our human genome.

Study on selenium and selenocysteine on health

Selenocysteine, according to S Kurokawa and MJ Berry, in their publication titled Selenium. Role of the essential metalloid in health discuss selenocysteine and its role in health. They say that selenocysteine (Sec) is described as “having stronger nucleophilic and electrophilic properties than cysteine, and Sec is present in the catalytic site of all selenoenzymes. Most selenoproteins, whose functions are known, are involved in redox systems and signaling pathways. However, several selenoproteins are not well characterized in terms of their function.”

Even though selenium can be considered toxic if the dose is too high, it is still required for health purposes in the bigger picture, selenocysteine notwithstanding. According to the researchers the selenium field (which includes the selenoproteins, and selenomethionine, etc.) has “grown dramatically in the last few decades, and research on selenium biology is providing extensive new information regarding its importance for human health.”

Selenocysteine, itself, is a building block of selenoproteins, contains selenium, and is present in several enzymes such as glutathione peroxidases, glycine reductases, methionine-R-sulfoxide reductase B1 (SEPX1), and so on). Glutathione and glycine are standard amino acids.

The biochemist, Theresa Stadtman (married to Earl R. Stadtman) at the National Institutes of Health, discovered selenocysteine.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24470102

Health Benefits – Amino Acids

Amino acids provide certain health benefits to the human body. They are the building blocks of proteins and help the body’s metabolic functions. Of the 22 amino acids known to science, only 9 are considered to be essential to the human body, with some sources claiming the number is 10.

List of amino acids include Essential, Non-essential, and Conditionally Essential

To avoid amino acid deficiencies and to experience optimum health you must consume the essential amino acids since they cannot be produced by the body. Some medical professionals, like Naturopath Dr. Eliezer Ben-Joseph, who advises his patients and the public on alternative health matters through his Natural Solutions Radio show, suggest a list of 10 amino acids to include in your diet, which include: Arginine, Histidine, Methionine, Threonine, Valine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, and Leucine.

10 of the remaining 22 non-essential amino acids, which your body can manufacture on its own include Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Cysteine, Glutamine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests that if you are stressed or have a disease then these amino acids are “conditionally essential”: Arginine, Glycine, Cystine, Tyrosine, Proline, Glutamine, and Taurine.

Amino acids help build cells and repair tissues as well as create antibodies to ward off viruses and bacteria. Additionally, they help with enzymes and they body’s hormonal system. Dr. Ben-Joseph suggests these 8 amino acids provide these health benefits:

Tryptophan: is a natural relaxant, alleviates insomnia, and reduces anxiety/depression

Lysene: helps the body absorb calcium

Methionine: supplies sulfur to help hair, nails, and skin

Histidine: repairs tissue, good for digestion/ulcers, blood pressure, nerves, sexual function

Phenylalanine: aids the brain to produce Norepinephrine, which helps the brain and nerve cells

Valine: calms emotions, helps with mental vigor and coordination of the muscles

Leucine & Isoleucine: helps the body manufacture other necessary biochemical components

You can never be certain that you are getting enough of the aminoc acids that your body needs.  It may be a good idea to incorporate amino acid dietary supplements in your health regimen.  Each one serves a different function so it is important to ensure your body obtains the necessary nutrients.  As with anything else, be sure to check with your doctor before taking amino acid supplements or any dietary supplements.

References:

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/natural-solutions-radio/amino-acids

http://naturalsolutionsradio.com/blog/articles/references/minerals-amino-acids-chart