Tag Archives: threonine

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.




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












Aspartic acid






Glutamic acid













































Aspartic acid or Asparagine



Any amino acid



Termination codon


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.





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
onion x
papayas x x
parsley x
parsnips x x
pears x x
peas x x
pecans x x
pine nuts x x
pomegranates x x x
potatoes x x x
pumpkin seeds x
rice x
seaweed x
sesame seeds x
snap beans
spinach x
spirulina x
squash x
sunflower   seeds x
tomatoes x x
turnip greens
turnips x

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


Glycine Benefits: Glycine for Cancer, Diseases, and Other Health Benefits

Glycine is an amino acid that has amazing implications for human health and nutrition. Through the kidneys and liver, glycine uses inter-organ metabolism where it is synthesized from threonine, serine, hydroxyproline, and choline. Glycine is used by the bodies of both humans and animals.

A study done by W Wang, Z Wu, et al., at the State Key Laboratory of Animal Nutrition in Beijing, China’s Agricultural University, covered some of the glycine pathways and how it is biosynthesized and what it is good for.

Benefits of Glycine

According to the study in Beijing, glycine degrades through three different pathways in the body: through glycine cleavage system (GCS), serine hydroxymethyltransferase, and also conversion. Also, “glycine is utilized for the biosynthesis of glutathione, heme, creatine, nucleic acids, and uric acid.”

What many don’t know is that glycine is an important part of bile acids from the liver, which are secreted into the small intestine for the breakdown of fats in digestion. The glycine then, via the bile acids, also help absorb long-chain fatty acids.

According to those who did the study, glycine “plays an important role in metabolic regulation, anti-oxidative reactions, and neurological function.

Thus, this nutrient has been used to:

(1) prevent tissue injury
(2) enhance anti-oxidative capacity
(3) promote protein synthesis and wound healing
(4) improve immunity, and
(5) treat metabolic disorders in obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ischemia-reperfusion injuries, cancers, and various inflammatory diseases.”

Glycine Benefits Reviewed

The uses for glycine in the body are unreal! Glycine is obviously beneficial to human health, and it is seriously a functional amino acid.