Tag Archives: protein

Lysine Deficiency in Vegans and Vegetarian Diet

Lysine is an amino acid that is very often found in deficient levels within vegetarians, and especially vegans. Lysine is found in abundance within meats and other protein foods, such as beef, turkey, pork, lamb, chicken, as well as fish and eggs. Since vegans and vegetarians do not typically consume animals or their products, the levels of lysine are sometimes dangerously low. How can this be helped?

Vegetarian foods that are highest in lysine

Although meat contains all 22 common amino acids, including lysine, it is not a product that vegetarians—and especially vegans–consume, Below are some suggestions for a high-lysine diet and the kind of protein foods that can provide this important amino acid.

Lysine from protein foods should include eating 1.0 to 1.1 grams/kilogram of body weight daily (for adults). This is especially important if you are over the age of 60. Vegetarian sources of lysine-containing foods, for the vegetarian that allows no mammals, but do allow some animal products, include these…

Ovo-vegetarians can eat eggs, which have all 22 amino acids, including plenty of lysine.

Pescetarians eat fish, which is also an excellent source, plus have heart-healthy oils for cardiovascular health.

Lacto-vegetarians eat milk / dairy products, which contain lesser amounts of this amino acid, but definitely more than vegetable sources.

Vegan foods high in lysine

There are definitely some high-lysine vegan foods that are available for people who do not eat any animal products whatsoever. Vegetable sources for lysine, which should be eaten daily, include:

Legumes
quinoa
seitan
pistachios

Legumes include soybeans, and products of soybeans (such as tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy protein, etc.), and beans (garbanzo, pinto, black beans, and other dry beans) and their products (refried beans, hummus, falafel), and peas (split, green peas, black-eyed, etc.).

Nine essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body, so must be taken in via food or through supplementation. Legumes and seitan—per serving—have the highest amount of lysine. In fact, the highest vegan foods also include tempeh, tofu, soy meats, lentils, and seitan.

Lysine is also found in fairly decent quantities within quinoa and pistachios.

The US RDA recommendation for lysine from proteins is about 1g/kg protein for children, and .8g/kg for people aged 18-59, and up to 1.3g/kg protein for people over 60.

Lysine, since it is an amino acid, can also be taken as a dietary supplement from the health food store or drug stores. Overall, there is no reason why one has to give up their vegan or vegetarian lifestyle just because they are deficient in this aminio acid. There are ample ways to include it via foods or supplementation into your daily regimen.

Reference:

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/protein

Vegan Sources of Lysine Amino Acid

It is well established that vegetarians and vegans are often deficient in the amino acid lysine, which can lead to diminished health. Lysine typically comes from protein foods like meats (beef, pork, turkey, chicken, etc.), eggs, fish, and even dairy. However, since vegans do not eat animals or their products of any kind, the deficiencies are worse than for vegans than pescetarian vegetarians (who eat fish), lacto-vegetarians (who consume dairy), or ovo-vegetarians (who eat eggs).

Making sure you have adequate protein intake is the key to getting enough lysine, but are nuts and legumes (including soybeans) enough to provide lysine to a vegan diet? What if you are allergic to nuts? What if legumes do not agree with your system? What other choices are there, and which sources of vegetables or fruits or other vegan foods are highest in lysine?

Vegan foods high in protein

According to a Vegan registered dietitian (RD) a man was thinking about eating eggs again to ensure he had enough protein (including lysine) and fat in his diet, and admitting that he may have been nutrient-deficient, it was suggested that he could get equivalent amounts of protein and fat from vegan sources. For instance, a large egg has about 5 g of fat and 6 g of protein, but so does eating a 1/2 C of beans (topped with 2 Tbsp avocado) OR 1 C quinoa (topped with 1 Tbsp chopped nuts), along with 1/4 C tempeh.

This same vegan RD suggest that vegans can get enough protein (and therefore lysine) by eating a minimum of 3 servings/day of legumes. Servings means 1/2 C of beans or soyfood, or 1 C soymilk; this amount is generous.

There’s no need to be obsessive about lysine, as long as you get enough protein. Your daily regimen should include legumes and soyfoods to ensure your lysine intake.

Protein requirements for adequate lysine intake

Protein requirements and lysine requirements are figured differently. You pounds when doing the figuring below…

Protein requirements:

Multiply your (ideal) weight by 0.45

Lysine requirements:

Multiply your (ideal) weight by 2.5

Lead body mass is what protein needs are based on, so using your ideal weight (rather than actual weight) help calculate the proper requirements. For example, a person who should weight about 140 lbs should need approximately 3010 mg of lysine and 63 g of protein.

1/2 C cooked legumes/beans = 485-625 mg lysine / 7-8 g protein

1/2 C soybeans = 575 mg lysine / 14 g protein

1/2 C firm tofu = 582 mg lysine / 10-20 g protein

1 oz veggie meats = (varies) mg lysine / 6-18 g protein
1 C soymilk = 439 mg lysine / 5-10 g protein
1/4 C peanuts = 310 mg lysine / 8 g protein
1/4 C other nuts* = 80-280 mg lysine / 2-6 g protein
1/2 C grains** = 55-85 mg lysine / 2-3 g protein
1/2 vegetables = 60-165 mg lysine / 0.5-2.5 g protein
* Note that 1/4 C pistachios have 365 mg lysine and 6.5 g protein
** Note that quinoa is higher compared to other grains, with 220 mg lysine and 4 g protein
As you can see, it is not all that hard to find lysine in protein foods as long as you maintain an adequate amount of servings and protein grams each day.

References:

http://www.theveganrd.com/2011/01/vegan-food-guide-protein-and-new-book.html

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/

All About Protein for Kids

What are proteins? If you are a kid or just want to learn all about protein in a simple way, then below is a simple explanation of what proteins are and why you need to eat them. Proteins help your body stay strong and builds muscle and other tissues (like organs and immune system) in your body. Some foods contain protein, such as beef, pork, fish, eggs, dairy products (like milk or cheese), nuts (like peanuts or peanut butter, almonds, walnuts) and seeds, as well as legumes (beans, lentils).

Your body knows all about protein because it uses specialized protein molecules to do certain tasks. For example, your body uses protein to make a part of your blood (red blood cells) that carries oxygen through your veins to all the other parts of your body; this part of the red blood cells is called hemoglobin. Another special part that protein is used for is to help keep the cardiac (heart) muscle strong. Proteins make your body parts–like legs and arms and organs–moving and keeps your immune system strong so you don’t catch diseases or get sick.

About protein and amino acids

If you eat protein, like a hamburger patty, then your digestive juices from your stomach and intestines start working to break the protein down into smaller parts called amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Then these amino acids can be used to make more proteins that help maintain your muscles, blood, bones, and organs.

At Kids Health they describe proteins as being like “long necklaces with differently shaped beads. Each bead is a small amino acid. These amino acids can join together to make thousands of different proteins.” There are over 200 different kinds of amino acids (“beads”) but only about 22 amino acids are common. About 13 of these amino acids are called non-essential amino acids because your body makes them automatically, but the other nine amino acids your body must get from food, so these are called essential amino acids (like arginine or leucine).

About protein types – complete and incomplete proteins

Complete proteins that have all nine essential amino acids come from animal sources, like meats and dairy. Vegetable sources of protein tend to be incomplete, however. If you want to know about protein sources that are both from vegetables and that are complete proteins you simply need to mix certain types of foods. Combining certain foods helps vegetarians (people who do not eat meat) get all their essential amino acids without eating animals or their products.

For example, some protein-rich vegetable-source foods that can be combined includes eating beans a rice, which are a staple food around the world for many developing countries. Another example is eating whole-grain bread and peanut butter together.

About proteins – how much do you need?

If you know how much you weigh then you can figure out just how much protein your body actually needs. Kids need about a half of a gram of protein for each pound (.5 kilograms) they weigh. That means they need a gram for every two pounds. If you weight 70 lbs then you need about 35 grams of protein each day. Adults usually need about 60 grams each day of protein.

Make sure you eat a balanced diet and if you want to see a chart about protein grams in food you can check this one out from the Moms Who Think website: http://www.momswhothink.com/diet-and-nutrition/high-protein-foods.html

References:

http://kidshealth.org/kid/nutrition/food/protein.html

http://www.momswhothink.com/diet-and-nutrition/high-protein-foods.html

Tryptophan Deficiency causes Low Levels of Serotonin

Serotonin deficiency, and its associated tryptophan depletion issue, can cause a number of health problems.

It has been long known that having enough serotonin, and its metabolite, the amino acid tryptophan, improves mood, helps sleep, depression, and anxiety; however, the heart and gut connection is new to a lot of people.

Julia Ross, whom wrote The Mood Cure says that the most common physical symptoms of low serotonin include:

1)      gut and heart problems

2)      sleep problems

3)      fibromyalgia and other pain conditions

4)      cravings for carbohydrates, alcohol, and certain drugs

Serotonin deficiency cause issues with the heart and gut

Nerves often cause anxiety and anxiety attacks in people, and heart palpitations. The nervous system is also intrinsically tied to the gut, and is why people often get a “gut feeling” about something, and are usually right!

You may even have a gut feeling that you have a serotonin deficiency. Julia Ross also states that “90% of the serotonin in your body is not in your brain; it’s in your gut.”

According to D Keszthelyi, FJ Troost, et al., at the Top Institute Food and Nutrition in Wageningen, Netherlands, “Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT), a tryptophan metabolite, plays an important regulatory role in the human central nervous system and in the gastrointestinal tract.”

Ease the gut with amino acid tryptophan to raise serotonin levels

One of the first places tryptophan is placed in the body is through the gut via foods we eat. A pro-serotonin diet (meaning high-tryptophan foods) we can help eliminate the issue of serotonin deficiency.

Ross continues concerning serotonin deficiency, “When you raise your serotonin levels, your digestive tension (including constipation) can often dissolve along with your mental constriction. Your hear is also partly serotonin dependent; it’s well known that low-serotonin-style negative moods, including fear and anger, are closely associated with heart disease.”

Try eating high-tryptophan and serotonin deficiency alleviating protein foods like beef, chicken, fish, dairy, and eggs. It is important that you nourish all of your emotional centers… the brain, gut, and heart, by not allowing a serotonin deficiency to create problems you could otherwise live without.

The author of this story is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at http://www.aminoacidinformation.com and Vancouver Health News at http://www.VancouverHealthNews.ca.  National Nutraceuticals, Inc. also owns and operates a third health news portal focusing on medicinal mushrooms at http://medicinalmushroominfo.com, plus our newest portal at http://todayswordofwisdom.com.

References:

Ross, J. (2002). The Mood Cure. NY: Penguin Group.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301931