Tag Archives: phenylalanine

Phenylalanine Hydroxylase and Memory Performance

Phenylalanine, an essential amino acid, is the precursor to amino acid tyrosine, which helps regulate dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline. Found naturally in breast milk, phenylalanine is said to have analgesic and antidepressant qualities. Phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) is the enzyme that catalyzes phenylalanine to tyrosine. Mutations in PAH can cause phenylketonuria (PKU), the inability to metabolize phenylalanine and a genetic disorder that can lead to intellectual disability, seizures, motor disorder and skin rashes when not monitored. Because of this association of genetic variations to cognitive ability, researchers at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Japan set out to test the effect of variations, or single nucleotide polymorphisms, of PAH on memory performance in humans.

For the experiment, researchers Toshiya Teraishi et al. used 599 healthy participants. All participants underwent interviews to make sure they had no history with psychological disorders. They were then given the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised to evaluate memory performance in five parts: verbal memory, visual memory, general memory, attention and delayed recall. Blood samples were also taken to determine the genomic DNA of the participants and tag six different single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) of PAH.

The effect of variations of PAH on memory

After analyzing the test scores and associated SNPs of phenylalanine hydroxylase of the participants, researchers Teraishi et al. found a significant association of the verbal memory set of the score with five SNPs. This suggests that common variations in PAH, specifically variations with SNP marker rs2037639 and haplotype markers rs2037639 and rs10860936, can have an effect on verbal memory performance.

Because SNP rs2037639 was found in previous studies to be associated with schizophrenia in sample of Bulgarian men, the researchers believe that the particular SNP variation increases an individual’s susceptibility to the mental disorder by affecting memory performance.

They report that verbal memory is one of the most altered neurocognitive function for schizophrenics.

Source:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3733818/

EGGS: The Raw Food Anti-Aging Superfood with Amino Acids

Eggs for anti-aging? Wasn’t the last thing we heard that they had too much cholesterol and were bad for cardiovascular health? According to Dr. Mercola who wrote “Top 7 Food That Slow Your Aging” eggs are one of the superfoods, and he insists that there is no link between consuming eggs and heart disease, to boot. Why? There is a whole list of reasons… some of which include essential amino acids (like arginine, leucine, phenylalanine) and  that raw whole eggs contain.

First of all, says Dr. Mercola, they need to be raw, and organic. This means they also need to be as fresh as possible to reduce the risk of contamination or infection. Furthermore, a single egg contains 9 essential amino acids. This is a fantastic raw item for raw foodists.

Aside from the “highest quality protein you can put in your body,” and that proteins are necessary for building and maintaining your body tissues (skin, muscles, and internal organs), eggs are also important for your hormones and immune system.

Besides the 9 essential amino acids in raw, organic eggs, they include these health benefits:

Zeaxanthin, and Lutein (for your eyes)
Choline (for your brain, cardiovascular- and nervous systems)
Vitamin D

How to choose the best eggs – amino acids, nutrition, omega-3’s, and allergies

Dr. Mercola says that not do we need the 9 essential amino acids in eggs for their anti-aging effects, but we should eat them raw for maximum benefits.

Allergic reactions, he insists, are usually caused by changes in the eggs due to the cooking process. Raw eggs, such as how muscle-builders take in their morning protein shakes, help preserve the highly perishable nutrients that eggs contain.

Raw egg whites contain avidin, a glycoprotein that binds biotin (a B vitamin), which some believe may lead to biotin deficiency; however, although cooking the whites deactivates the avidin, although it also impairs the proteins in the egg. Realize that the yolks also have plenty of biotin, some of the highest found in nature, so if you eat the whole egg raw, you should not be deficient. Eating only the whites may ensure a biotin deficiency.

Avoid omega-3 eggs, says Dr. Mercola, because “they typically come from hens fed poor quality omega-3 fat sources that are already oxidized.”

Be sure to buy organic and TRUE free-range chicken eggs, and preferably locally produced eggs from a pasture farmer. Dr. Mercola suggests requesting them at your local health food store or do a search in your area by visiting www.eatwild.com or www.localharvest.org.

Overall, the amino acids and other health supporting properties of local organic eggs, show many benefits to human health, especially when eaten whole and raw.

Reference:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/02/27/top-7-foods-that-slow-your-aging.aspx

Amino Acids and Proteins – Dr Weil’s Diet Advice

Dr Weil’s diet advice has been becoming extremely popular. His book shows what you can eat, how the diet works, and what to avoid. It’s a simplified book on basic human nutrition, and tells how we get energy from the food we eat. 

Dr Weil’s diet book advice covers things like fiber and protein and amino acids (like leucine, phenylalanine, or carnitine) are discussed, as well as ethnic intolerances to certain foods. For instance, this famous MD recommends that we have at least 40 grams of fiber each day. This is easily achieved if you eat vegetables (beans in particular), fruits (especially berries), and whole grains.

Dr Weil says to avoid dairy products

Dr Weil’s diet advice also suggest that we avoid milk altogether, and only eat limited amounts of cheese or other dairy products. Many people are lactose intolerant, particularly if you are of African-American or Asian decent, since people of these ethnic background tend to have problems digesting dairy products (lactose intolerance is usually inherited).

Still others may yet be allergic to milk protein, even mildly, and may not even know it. Only a particular group of European decent have the adaptation to be able to tolerate dairy products. Even then, there are plenty of other—better—sources for protein, calcium, and amino acids in the diet.

Take calcium, as an example… Dr Weil’s diet includes wonderful non-dairy sources of calcium by eating things like sardines, leafy greens, various sea vegetables (dulse, nori, and kombu), broccoli, plus tofu, calcium-fortified orange juice, fortified soy milk, and sesame seeds are wonderful sources of this mineral.

Dr Weil’s diet advice doesn’t mention it, but ounce for ounce, raw unhulled sesame seeds contain more calcium than any other food on earth! Try liquefying them with water in a blender for a few minutes, add real maple syrup to taste, and then strain it through a fine-meshed 1-gal sized plastic paint strainer (yes, you read that right!), and wala! You have super-calcium sesame milk!

Dr Weil’s diet on amino acids and more

Proteins build and repair and even maintain the body, plus they can be converted to glucose, which the body needs for energy. This is where amino acids come in. Altogether there are 22 amino acids available to the human body, some of which the body makes, but others must be gotten from food.

If you eat too much protein it makes it harder on the digestive system and puts strain on the kidneys and liver. If you eat too little protein you risk malnutrition, infection susceptibility, and maybe even an early death, says Dr Weil’s diet information.

Other Dr Weil’s diet advice includes limiting carbohydrates (sources of glucose) to low-glycemic index varieties, such as sweet potatoes (rather than white potatoes), other vegetables, plus unrefined grains. Fats and oils should also be limited. The last note is that when implementing Dr Weil’s diet be sure to get an adequate amount of exercise.

Reference:

http://www.webmd.com/diet/dr-andrew-weil-what-it-is?page=2

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 Acid Supplements for Addiction Recovery

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and so they come from protein foods; however, some people do not produce or assimilate amino acids as well as others, and so amino acid supplements can be utilized, especially in cases where addiction is an issue. Addiction recovery is commonly found in products that are taken internally in some way (consumption, inhalation, etc.). Amino acid supplements may help.

Food, drugs, and alcohol, are common addictions in society today. The “white foods” like sugar, white flour, white rice, and white potatoes, can act as addictive foods to someone who is prediabetic or diabetic, similarly to how alcohol or marijuana, caffeine, speed, or cocaine, can act as an addiction to someone else.

Amino acid supplements can help curb these appetites for unhealthy habits, and aid in bringing back a sense of control because they activate the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect these issues.

Amino acid supplements for addictions

Consider these addictions:

FOODS/DRINKS: Sweets, starches, chocolate, caffeine, aspartame, alcohol, etc.

DRUGS: Heroin, alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, speed, cocaine, ecstasy, valium, etc.

These items may be as much of an emotional addiction as they can be a physical addiction, depending. Be sure to ask your physician before trying to treat addictions or go through addiction recovery by supplementing with amino acids.

Amino acid supplements chart for addiction recovery

Treating or reducing symptoms to help smooth out the process of recovery may be aided by taking essential or non-essential amino acid supplements.

Here is a chart showing amino acid supplements for addictions from the Addiction Recovery Guide folks, reprinted from: Blum K, Ross J, Reuben C, Gastelu D, Miller DK.  “Nutritional Gene Therapy: Natural Healing in Recovery.  Counselor Magazine, January/February, 2001

Supplemental Ingredient

Restored Brain Chemical

Addictive Substance   Abuse

Amino Acid Deficiency   Symptoms

Expected Behavior   Change

D-Phenylalanine or DL-Phenylalanine Enkephalins
Endorphins
Heroin, Alcohol, Marijuana, Sweets, Starches, Chocolate,   Tobacco Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions sensitive to   physical or emotional pain. Crave comfort and pleasure. Desire certain food   or drugs. Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Mild anti-depression. Mild   improved energy and focus. D-Phenylalanine promotes pain relief, increases   pleasure.
L-Phenylalanine or L-Tyrosine Norepinephrine
Dopamine
Caffeine, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana, Aspartame, Chocolate,   Alcohol, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches Most Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) conditions. Depression,   low energy. Lack of focus and concentration. Attention-deficit disorder. Reward stimulation. Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Increased   energy. Improved mental focus.
L-Tryptophan or 5 hydroxytryptophan (5HTP) Serotonin Sweets, Alcohol, Starch, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Chocolate,   Tobacco Low self-esteem. Obsessive/compulsive behaviors. Irritability   or rage. Sleep problems. Afternoon or evening cravings. Negativity. Heat   intolerance. Fibromyalgia, SAD (winter blues). Anti-craving. Anti-depression. Anti-insomnia. Improved   appetite control. Improvement in all mood and other serotonin deficiency   symptoms.
GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid) GABA Valium, Alcohol, Marijuana, Tobacco, Sweets, Starches Feeling of being stressed-out. Nervous. Tense muscles. Trouble   relaxing. Promotes calmness. Promotes relaxation.
L-Glutamine GABA (mild enhancement)
Fuel source for entire brain
Sweets, Starches, Alcohol Stress. Mood swings. Hypoglycemia. Anti-craving, anti-stress. Levels blood sugar and mood. GABA   (mild enhancement). Fuel source for entire brain.

Whether you have mental health or emotional health issues, chemical dependency, food related issues such as diabetes, weight gain/weight loss problems, or other health problems, please discuss taking any amino acid supplements with your doctor before attempting addiction recovery.

References:

http://www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/holistic/nutrition

http://www.medhelp.org/tags/health_page/45/Addiction/Amino-Acid-Protocol?hp_id=15

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

Amino Acid Chart

Many people know that you can get all 22 amino acids from protein foods such as meats (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, etc.), fish, and even eggs, but some people do not know how many plant-based amino acids in food there are, let alone which ones for which kinds of foods; I will cover some of them here in chart form for easy use.

Below is a breakdown of some of the essential amino acids that are in a variety of vegetarian (non-meat, non-dairy, non-egg, and non-fish) or vegan sources of foods… these are plant-based amino acids. The term “essential” amino acid means that you can only get these kinds of amino acids in food since your body cannot make them on its own.

Amino acids in food from plant proteins

According to the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) an adult needs about 0.8 to 1.0 g protein/kg of body weight. You can calculate this by dividing your weight (in lbs) by 2.2. That is how many grams you need each day of protein.

When you eat protein foods the proteins break down to their basic units called amino acids. Amino acids in food then help build back proteins within the body, needed by muscles, organs, and the immune system. About 15-25% of your daily calories should be from protein foods. Too much protein can strain the liver and kidneys.

Uses of amino acids in food

Arginine is considered as a semi-essential, or “conditional” essential amino acid depending on the health status and what stage of development the individual is in.

Histidine is most important during infancy (utilized for proper development and growth). It is essential for both adults and babies.

Isoleucine is used for muscle production, as well as maintenance and recovery. This is especially important after you have worked out/exercised. It helps in hemoglobin (in red blood cells) formation, blood clotting, energy, and regulating blood sugar levels.

Leucine is used in tissue production, repair, and production of growth hormone. It helps prevent wasting of muscles and is useful in treating Parkinson’s disease.

Lysine is used for calcium absorption, nitrogen maintenance, bone development, hormone production, tissue repair, and antibody production.

Methionine is used as a “cleaner” of the body… it helps emulsify fats, aids in digestion, is an antioxidant (helps prevent cancer), prevents arterial plaque, and removes heavy metals.

Phenylalanine is a precursor for the amino acid tyrosine and signaling molecules such as dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), as well as the skin pigment melanin. It helps with memory and learning, elevates moods, and aids in brain processes.

Threonine monitors proteins in the body that processes to maintain and recycle.

Tryptophan is utilized for the production of niacin, serotonin, plus helps in pain management, mood regulation, and aids sleep.

Valine is for the muscles in recovery, endurance, and energy, plus it balances levels of nitrogen. It is also used in treating alcohol-related brain damage.

Amino Acid Chart of Food Sources

AMINO   ACIDS –> Arginine Histidine Isoleucine Leucine Lysine Methionine Phenylalanine Threonine Tryptophan Valine
almonds x x x x x
amaranth x
apples x x x x x x
apricots x
asparagus x x
avocadoes x
bananas x x x
beans x x x x
beets x x x x
black beans x
brazil nuts x x
broccoli x
brussels sprouts x x x
buckwheat x x
carrots x x x x x
cantaloupe x x x x x
cauliflower x x x
cashews x x x
celery x x x
chickpeas x
chives x x
citrus fruits x
coconut x
collards x x
cucumbers x x x
dandelion   greens x x x
endive x
fennel x x
flax seed x x x
garlic x x
grapes x x
greens x
green  vegetables x x
hazelnuts x x
kale x
kidney beans x x
leeks x
legumes x
lentil x
lettuce x x
lima beans x
mushrooms x
nori (seaweed) x x
nutritional yeast x x
nuts x x
oats x
okra x
olives
onion x
papayas x x
parsley x
parsnips x x
pears x x
peas x x
pecans x x
pineapple
pine nuts x x
pomegranates x x x
potatoes x x x
pumpkin seeds x
radishes
rice x
seaweed x
sesame seeds x
snap beans
spinach x
spirulina x
sprouts
squash x
sunflower   seeds x
tomatoes x x
turnip greens
turnips x
walnuts
watercress

There are certain other amino acids in food that could, or even should, be added to this amino acid chart, but this is a good start for most common vegetables, nuts, legumes, and other plant foods.

Amino Acid Chart Reference

http://yumuniverse.com/plant-based-protein-information-chart/

Low Phenylalanine Diet and Cancer Patients

More information on the incredibly complex nature of cancer. Diets which limit tumor growth in animal models did not have the same positive effect on humans in a European pilot study. Diets without enough protein (that provide amino acids) like junk food that have low tyrosine and low phenylalanine were studied…

Advanced cancer is cancer which has spread, or metastasized, and may no longer be responding to treatment. Some cancers, such as brain cancers, are considered advanced cancer even if they haven’t spread. The cancer is not curable at this stage.

There are some treatment options, however, which focus on controlling the cancer and managing cancer symptoms, so the patient can feel as good as possible for as long as possible. Limiting the spread of cancer is one of the goals, including controlling tumor growth.

Low tyrosine and low phenylalanine diets

Researchers M Harvie, I Campbell, et al, with the University Department of Medical Oncology, South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, Manchester, UK, hoped there would be a correlation between the results of an animal trial and a human trial in regards to low tyrosine and low phenylalanine.

A low tyrosine and low phenylalanine diet was successful in limiting tumor growth in animal models. These are both amino acids. Tyrosine is made in the body from phenylalanine, and is crucial to general metabolism. It has a strong antidepressant effect.

The researchers developed a pilot study to test the low tyrosine and low phenylalanine diet, which was offered to human volunteers with advanced cancer. Three patients with metastatic melanoma and three patients with metastatic breast cancer agreed to try the diet for one month.

Results were disappointing. All patients experienced negative side effects. They reported increased levels of anxiety and depression due to the low tyrosine diet. Some patients also lost weight. There was a slight increase in white cell counts, but not significantly.

The researchers concluded that low tyrosine and low phenylalanine diets are not a viable treatment for people with advanced cancer.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12028515

Amino Acid Phenylalanine Helps Us Make Good — And Bad — Decisions

Are you an optimist, or a pessimist? Do you ever make bad decisions? The level of dopamine—created from the amino acid phenylalaninein your brain could be influencing your ability to make good decisions. A recent interesting study from University College London investigated whether high levels of dopamine makes us unrealistically optimistic.

Have you ever purchased a lottery ticket? Humans are generally optimistically biased when making predictions about our future. We habitually underestimate the likelihood of negative events. But why? Is the amino acid phenylalanine to blame?

Researchers Tali Sharot, Marc Guitart-Masip, et al., from the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences at the University College London, developed a double-blind placebo-controlled pharmacological intervention study to investigate.

Dopamine is a brain chemical—a neurotransmitter–produced from the essential amino acid phenylalanine. Phenylalanine can elevate mood, decrease pain, and help memory and learning.  But can we have too much?

The researchers created a test to see if dopamine makes us unrealistically optimistic. Test subjects were given dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine—to pharmacologically produce dopamine—and asked to perform a belief update test. They were asked to estimate the likelihood of experiencing 40 different types of adverse life events, such as developing Alzheimer’s disease, and having their car stolen.

Dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine raises dopamine, affects decision-making

The dopamine created from the dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine made every answer highly optimistic. Negative events were significantly underestimated with high levels of dopamine. In addition, raised levels of dopamine makes us less likely to learn from unpleasant experiences.

The researchers concluded that pharmacological manipulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine—by taking dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine—makes us unrealistically optimistic. So controlling dopamine can help us make better decisions.

And even better, enhancing dopamine levels with dihydroxy-L-phenylalanine could help people suffering from major depression.

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.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424419/