Tag Archives: health benefits

Prevent Prostate Cancer with Three Amino Acids?

Three specific amino acids may aid in the prevention of prostate cancer according to a study. The three aminos include methionine, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. During protein synthesis by the body, the amino acids tyrosine, methionine, and phenylalanine are utilized. Restriction of these amino acids depends on glucose metabolism, which when altered aids in cell death of cancer cells within human prostate cancer, and may aid in preventing prostate cancer.

Study linking amino acids and prostate cancer prevention

YM Fu, H Lin, et al., did a study at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Washington State University said that it is selective amino acid restriction of tyrosine and phenylalanine, plus methionine or glutamine that target mitochondria in cells that are linked to prostate cancer cell death.

Glucose metabolism modulation is tied to the process and “crucial switches connecting metabolism and these signaling molecules to cell survival during amino acid restriction” become target factors preventing prostate cancer, say the researchers.

Second study on prostate cancer and amino acids

Another study by YS Kim from Washington State University showed an identification of molecular targets regarding specific amino acid dependency and how it modulates specific kinds of prostate cancer cells. To find out how the amino acids can prevent prostate cancer, they investigated if restriction of tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine could inhibit the growth and metastasis of prostate cancer.

Kim progressed outward in this field of research because of the “underlying the anticancer activity of tyrosine/phenylalanine and methionine restriction. This is especially important research since there still is no satisfactory drug for treatment of androgen-independent, metastatic human prostate cancer.”

Even though further research is needed regarding the amino acids phenylalanine, tyrosine, and methionine for prostate cancer prevention, it has expanded avenues for antimetastatic, anti-invasive, apoptosis-based therapies for the preventing prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer, being one of the major cancers that kill men in the North American continent, is the reason why males should be regularly screened for this deadly disease.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20432447

http://prevention.cancer.gov/funding/recently-funded/ca04004/1R01CA101035-01A1

Connection between Folic Acid and Amino Acid Homocysteine

There is a connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine, but what is it? Folic acid and amino acid (homocysteine, one of the 22 amino acids) functions are quite different, but the former does affect the latter. In fact, blood levels of homocysteine in the body are lowered in the presence of folic acid.

Folic acid is also known as folate; however, folate is slightly different. Folate—a bioavailable and natural form of vitamin B9—comes from the word ‘foliage’ because it is found in leafy greens, such as spinach and other greens, but also from fortified/enriched cereals and animal foods like eggs or liver, as well as plant foods like broccoli, brussel sprouts, lentils, beans, asparagus, cantaloupe, and bananas. Folic acid is merely the synthetic form of folate, and is found in supplements.

Folic acid/folate (vitamin B9) helps the body produce energy, is needed for mental and emotional health, and helps prevent neural tube birth defects like spina bifida, which occurs during the first month of pregnancy, especially in high risk pregnancies. Folic acid deficiencies can occur in people due to alcoholism, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The terms (and products) folic acid and amino acid are two different things; where folic acid is vitamin B9, and amino acids like homocysteine, cysteine, leucine, lysine, carnitine, and so on, are simply the building blocks of proteins. All 22 common amino acids are found in protein foods such as meats (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) as well as fish and eggs. Eggs, then, are actually a good source of both folic acid and amino acid content.

So what is the connection between folic acid and amino acid homocysteine?

Although amino acids are necessary for health, sometimes it is not good to have too much of a good thing; homocysteine is one of these amino acids where elevated blood levels of the amino acid can actually cause health problems.

According to Dr. Weil, elevated homocysteine levels are “linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Elevated homocysteine levels are thought to contribute to plaque formation by damaging arterial walls. High levels may also act on blood platelets and increase the risks of clot formation; however, whether high levels of homocysteine actually cause cardiovascular disease has yet to be agreed upon. … In addition, some evidence suggests that people with elevated homocysteine levels have twice the normal risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

The folic acid and amino acid connection is affected by diet as well. People who eat a lot of meat in comparison to leafy greens (that have folate/folic acid) or fruits tend to be highest in homocysteine levels. B vitamins and folic acid help reduce homocysteine levels. Additionally, says Dr. Weil, “homocysteine is also produced in the body from another amino acid, methionine. One of methionine’s main functions is to provide methyl groups for cellular reactions. … Typically, homocysteine then receives another methyl group from either folic acid or vitamin B6 to regenerate methionine.”

Folic acid supplements usually come in .4 to .8 grams, but prescription strength is at 1 g/day, although older pregnant women or high risk moms can take up to 4+ g/day (doctor prescribed). If you are low in folic acid and amino acid levels supplements can be taken for either. High stress and increased coffee consumption can also raise homocysteine levels, however. Homocysteine levels can also be elevated due to psoriasis, kidney disease, or even low thyroid hormones.

Other than talking with your doctor, one of the best ways to deal with the folic acid and amino acid connection, especially if there is an issue, is to eat healthy, get enough exercise, and make sure your daily diet includes plenty of leafy greens and fresh fruits and vegetables and less meat and fried foods, which may also reduce cholesterol and aid cardiovascular health as an added bonus.

Sources:

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-b9-folic-acid

http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03423/Elevated-Homocysteine.html

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/

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-Phenylalanine Benefts and Dangers

There is an old saying that nothing, in and of itself, is either good or bad. This is true also of the amino acid phenylalanine. What the pros or cons are of taking this amino acid depends on your situation. I will go over some of the dangers as well as the health benefits of this essential amino acid (amino acids are building blocks for protein). “Essential” means that you have to get this amino acid through your diet since your body cannot make it on its own.

Phenylalanine Dangers

The dangers of phenylalanine can include things like drinking sodas that contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) that contain phenylalanine, but only if you have PKU. PKU is the genetic disorder phenylketonuria, which can cause brain damage or mental retardation or even seizures or death. Phenylalanine is found in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, turkey, etc.), fish, eggs, and dairy, and can also be purchased as supplements.

Phenylalanine is not a health concern for healthy people who do not have PKU. However, aspartame, according to the Mayo Clinic, can cause “a rapid increase in the brain levels of phenylalanine” in large doses. They advise to use aspartame-containing products cautiously if you take medications like neuroleptics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or medicines that contain levodopa; avoid phenylalanine also if you have tardive dyskinesia, have a sleep disorder, or other mental health condition, including anxiety disorder.

All of that said, what are the benefits of phenylalanine?

L-Phenylalanine Benefits

The different forms include D- phenylalanine, L- phenylalanine, and DL- phenylalanine (50/50) in the forms of phenylalanine supplementation. In fact, all 22 common amino acids are provided by protein foods.

The University of Maryland Medical Center says that the “body changes phenylalanine into tyrosine, another amino acid that’s needed to make proteins, brain chemicals, including L-dopa, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, and thyroid hormones.”

Norepinephrine also affects mood, so phenylalanine is used to help treat depression. People who are deficient in this amino can experience a lack of energy, confusion, memory issues, lack of appetite, decreased alertness, and depression.

The University of Michigan Health System says that the form L-phenylalanine (LPA) can be converted to L-tyrosine, but also into “ L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. LPA can also be converted (through a separate pathway) to phenylethylamine, a substance that occurs naturally in the brain and appears to elevate mood.”

Other uses for phenylalanine include treating:

Alcohol withdrawal
Chronic pain
Depression
Lower back pain
Osteoarthritis
Parkinson’s disease
Rheumatoid arthritis
Vitiligo

Please check with your doctor before diagnosing or taking any phenylalanine supplements or making any serious changes to your lifestyle, including diet and protein foods that contain this amino acid.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/phenylalanine/faq-20058361

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/phenylalanine

http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2895002#hn-2895002-uses

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 Acids Lysine, Proline, Arginine To Treat Prostate Cancer

A study into the anti-tumor effects of specific nutrients has led to positive results. A unique amino acids-plus formulation of lysine, proline, arginine, ascorbic acid, and epigallocatechin gallate was proved to have anticancer properties, and could become a natural anticancer agent to treat prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, after skin cancer. In fact, about 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (U.S. data). But prostate cancer can often be treated successfully, especially if detected early.

Prostate cancer can often be found by testing for a prostate-specific antigen in the blood. A digital rectal exam is also a common screening technique. Once diagnosed and staged, prostate cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, cryotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and other treatments.

Because some treatments, like chemotherapy, have severe side effects, scientists worldwide are studying new, non-toxic anti-cancer therapies, including some amino acids.

Amino acids nutrient study results: proliferation of prostate cancer cells reduced

Researchers Roomi MW, Ivanov V, et al, from the Matthias Rath Research, Cancer Division, Santa Clara, USA, developed a unique formula containing specific amino acids to treat prostate cancer cell lines.

Various concentrations of the amino acids lysine, proline, and arginine, were combined with ascorbic acid and epigallocatechin gallate. This mixture was tested on prostate cancer cell lines in vitro. The proliferation, or growth, of prostate cancer cells was measured.

Lysine is one of the essential amino acids, which means we must ingest it since our bodies cannot produce it by themselves. The two amino acids proline and arginine are synthesized in our bodies, though of course all amino acids can be consumed as supplements or can come from eating certain protein foods, including meats.

Results of the study were impressive. The amino acids-plus mixture produced a dose-dependent inhibition of some of the prostate cancer cell lines. The researchers concluded that the lysine, proline, and arginine amino acids, ascorbic acid, and epigallocatechin gallate mixture could become a potent anticancer agent, and could be a new treatment for prostate cancer.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17564322

Braggs Liquid Aminos Soy Seasoning Benefits

It is funny how you remember certain smells and tastes and associate them with a particular time and place in your life. I remember about two decades ago visiting some vegetarian friends of a friend in Silver City, New Mexico and eating dinner with them; it was the first time I was introduced to the benefits of Braggs Liquid Aminos. 

Liquid Aminos vs Soy Sauce

This soy sauce alternative had it all—the basic flavor and look and liquidity of regular soy sauce, but with less sodium and packed with 16 amino acids that are necessary for proper functioning of the human body. Perhaps that is why they are, still decades later, still so popular among vegans, vegetarians, and other health enthusiasts and experts. It’s not for everyone, certainly, but compared to regular soy sauce, it’s a definite step up!

Liquid Aminos Benefits

The one thing I recall eating that evening in Silver City—a town in the high desert (filled with rolling hills and Juniper trees)—was that we used the Bragg’s to dip our potstickers in before eating them. In fact, there were a number of items on our plates that night that wound up dipped and eaten quickly.

One of the more obvious benefits of Braggs Liquid Aminos are that it is not only healthier than the soy sauce alternative, but it is a condiment that you can use in cooking as well as straight from the bottle for a good number of recipes, or just as-is, full strength, as a dipping sauce, or over rice. Bragg’s versatility is amazing.

Even better! Benefits of Braggs Liquid Aminos include being non-GMO, providing protein to its consumers (you cannot usually get that from regular soy sauce, tamari, or seitan), can lower your risk for coronary heart disease (from soy proteins) by using it.

Braggs Amino Acids Additional Health Benefits

Other benefits of Braggs Liquid Aminos is that it is gluten-free, lowers risk of disease in general such as cancer (prostate, colon, and breast cancer included), is chemical-free, and has no artificial coloring, alcohol, or preservatives.

Its use has also been linked to lower rates of osteoporosis or other bone problems. Women who use soy protein products such as Braggs tend to go through fewer numbers of hot flashes during menopause.

Benefits of Braggs Liquid Aminos includes these 16 essential (meaning you have to get it from food, like in Bragg’s) and non-essential (meaning your body makes it) amino acids, made strictly from soybeans:

16 Amino Acids
  • Alanine
  • Arginine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Glycine
  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Threonine
  • Tyrosine
  • Valine
  • Lysine
From the Bragg’s website, the many uses of the product include being “Great on Salads & Dressings, Soups, Veggies, Rice & Beans, Tofu, Wok & Stir-frys, Tempeh, Casseroles, Potatoes, Meats, Poultry, Fish, Jerky, Popcorn, Gravies & Sauces, Macrobiotics.”

I have a bottle of Braggs Liquid Aminos at home, and use it regularly, especially when I eat kimbap or sushi. Maybe you will enjoy the health benefits of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos too!

Reference:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/295005-benefits-of-braggs-liquid-soy-seasoning/#ixzz2g23PJoCr