Tag Archives: non-essential amino acid

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/

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

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

Glycine Metabolism: Cancer Targeting Treatment?

Are we now able to peek into dangerous areas, like cancer, that would normally kill us? Scientists are having a look at glycine metabolism and its role in cancer growth. Researchers in Boston investigated the mutations cells undergo when healthy cells are mutated into cancer cells, and looked into possible ways of targeting these cancer cells.

Cancer occurs when previously healthy cells mutate, proliferating—replicating–rapidly. In fact, the definition of cancer is a malignant neoplasm, which refers to a group of diseases involving unregulated cell growth. The cancer cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors which are often fatal. Rapidly proliferating cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Very simply put, cancer can spread so rapidly because cancer cells reprogram normal, healthy cells. Mohit Jain, Roland Nilsson, et al, researchers with Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, wanted to examine this metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells.

They studied 60 well-characterized human cancer cell lines, from nine common tumor types, to characterize cancer cell metabolism. The researchers profiled the cellular consumption and release of over 200 metabolites, the molecules which are necessary for metabolism.

Link between glycine metabolism and cancer cells

In the in vitro experiment, cancer cell lines were cultured, and their metabolites were measured. The researchers found a significant correlation between glycine consumption and cancer cell proliferation.

Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, which can be synthesized by our bodies. In the study, glycine was consumed by rapidly proliferating cells, and released by slowly proliferating cells. This means that glycine is demanded by the cancer cells. The glycine consumption was pronounced in ovarian, colon, and melanoma tumor cells.

The researchers discovered that the glycine biosynthetic pathway was closely linked to cancer cell proliferation, meaning that the cancer was relying on glycine to spread. This increased reliance could make the cancer cells metabolically vulnerable to specific targeting.

The study concluded that this metabolism of glycine could be used to target the rapidly proliferating cancer cells, possibly becoming a new anti-cancer treatment.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3526189/

Carnitine vs Carnosine? What are They and What Do They Do?

Carnitine is an essential amino acid, while carnosine is a non-essential amino acid. The term “essential” simply means that it is required through diet (by eating foods that have or produce carnitine) to obtain the amino acid, whereas non-essential means that your body can make the amino acid carnosine on its own.

Carnitine vs carnosine

Carnitine vs carnosine: both are both two of the twenty-two amino acids known to exist, and can indeed be gotten through eating animal protein foods such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs. However, carnosine is also made by the body without supplementation, but carnitine is only made available to the body through diet or taking supplements.

Be careful of taking supplements of either carnitine vs carnosine, separately or together, because they can have side effects, especially when taken with certain medications, so be sure to ask your doctor/physician before taking them. Normal amounts gotten through food should not typically apply.

According to LiveStrong.com “Carnitine is synthesized from lysine and methionine, while carnosine is made from alanine and histidine.”

Carnitine vs carnosine: How they work in the body

Carnitine transports fatty acids in the body to burn fat. Carnitine also transports toxic wastes out of the mitochondria in cells. Concentrations of carnitine reside in the skeletal and cardiac (heart) muscle. Carnitine may also help reduce the symptoms of an overactive thyroid, as well as lower pain related to diabetic neuropathy.

Carnosine, a different amino acid altogether, is an antioxidant that functions in the skeletal muscle, brain, nervous system. Scientists are still not sure how carnosine works exactly, but evidently it can chelate (known as chelation), which is the removal of excess amounts of copper and zinc from the human body. LiveStrong reports that carnosine also improves wound healing and helps cataracts.

Both carnitine vs carnosine (or vice versa) have anti-aging effects and slow memory loss associated with age-related Alzheimer’s disease. An alternative treatment for autism is also a function of these two aminos.

Carnitine studies show it improves symptoms related to autism with a grade “B” while carnosine got a grade “C” for improvements in behavior and communication related to autism, according to Michael Chez, M.D. et al. (Nov 2002 Journal of Child Neurology) and Dan Rossignol, M.D., (Oct 2009 Clinical Psychiatry).

Carnitine vs carnosine for cardiovascular health

Both of these amino acids can improve cardiovascular functioning by providing health benefits to the heart, but in completely different ways. Carnitine reduces symptoms of peripheral vascular disease and angina in the heart, while carnosine lowers cholesterol and also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

Overall, it is recommended by many physicians that D-carnitine should be avoided since it interferes with the more natural form of L-carnitine in the body. Please check with your doctor before taking carnitine or carnosine supplements.

Please remember to visit our other health news portals, Medicinal Mushroom Information Center at http://medicinalmushroominfo.com Vancouver Health News at http://VancouverHealthNews.ca and http://todayswordofwisdom.com.

Reference:

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