Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Your body needs amino acids, not proteins. The value in eating protein is that it is broken down into polypeptides by hydrochloric acid in the stomach and then into amino acids by digestive enzymes in the small intestine. These amino acids are then absorbed into the body through the small intestines.
The wall of the small intestine, when in a healthy condition, will not allow anything larger than an individual molecule to pass through to the body. Once in the body, amino acids are used to build new proteins to do various jobs around the body.
The body also has the ability to synthesize amino acids, to make them from scratch, except for eight amino acids, which must be supplied from the outside. These are called "essential amino acids," because they are essential for you to continue living. Their names are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. We place an "L-" in front of each to denote the natural form which is the only form used by the body for most purposes. For infants and children there is a ninth essential amino acid called "histidine." However, adults can synthesize histidine. It is important that these essential aminos be present in the proper proportion. A diet of vegetables and fruits supplies all the needed aminos and in the proper proportion. If you are eating this kind of diet you need not worry about amino acids.
However, you should consider another aspect of the aminos: their medicinal value as supplements. Taken in concentrated form, these substances can produce remarkably beneficial effects countering many of the effects of aging. Let us talk about them one by one.
is used by the brain along with niacin (B6) and magnesium to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter. L-tryptophan can help induce natural sleep, reduce pain sensitivity, act as an antidepressant, reduce anxiety and aid in the control of alcoholism. Unfortunately, as of this writing, the FDA has taken the excuse of a contaminated batch of L-tryptophan from Japan to ban this valuable nutrient from the U.S. market. This is a moral crime against your right to health.
is an amino acid which is used by the body to produce the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine which promote alertness. L-phenylalanine can reduce hunger, increase sexual interest, improve memory and mental alertness and alleviate depression.
, not to be confused with plain phenylalanine, is a mixture of equal parts of the "D-" (synthetic) and "L-" (natural) phenylalanine. DL-phenylalanine inhibits the enzymes systems which destroy endorphans, and the resulting increased level of endorphans accounts for the effects of DLPA: pain relief and strong antidepressant action. DLPA is very useful in conditions of chronic pain such as arthritis, low back pain, neuralgia, etc. Some people, who do not respond to ordinary pain relievers, such as Empirin, do respond to DLPA. The analgesic effect of DLPA may require from four days to two weeks to manifest but once it does appear it is long lasting.
is used to treat herpes simplex infections (cold sores), enhance concentration, aid in fat metabolism and alleviate some infertility problems. L-lysine inhibits the replication of the herpes virus and, while it does not kill the virus and wipe it out, it will suppress the symptoms in some people.
are best discussed together as they usually are prepared and sold in combination. L-ornithine is converted to arginine in the body and therefore serves as a back up supply of L-arginine. L-arginine is converted to nitric oxide by an enzyme called nitric oxide synthase. Nitric oxide serves to keep pathogens out of the digestive tract; it serves to dilate blood vessels, and it is a potent source of energy and a sexual stimulant as well.
Upper back tension responds particularly well to L-arginine/L-ornithine. Other effects of this dynamic duo are muscle building and fat burning (especially when combined with exercise) with overall weight loss, accelerated wound healing, tissue repair and strengthened tendons and ligaments. L-arginine/L-ornithine should be taken with vitamin C, vitamin B6 and a good mineral supplement for maximum effect.
is the precursor of glutamic acid, which serves the brain by neutralizing excess ammonia (a byproduct of brain metabolism), thus creating a clearer space for brain activity. L-glutamine has been shown to improve IQ, alleviate fatigue, depression and impotence, as well as speed healing. It also is well-known to decrease the craving for alcohol and is a valuable adjunct in the treatment of alcoholism. These effects may be due to the HGH- releasing (human growth hormone-releasing) properties of the L- form of glutamine, which is, of course, popular with body-builders.
helps expel ammonia from the body. Ammonia is the major waste product of cell metabolism and is eliminated through the kidneys. The faster it is eliminated from the body the better you feel. Aspartic acid results in increased stamina (studies have proven this in athletes) and decreases fatigue. It is sold as L-aspartic Acid (the natural, non-synthetic form).
is a sulfur-containing amino acid and aids in detoxification by boosting the biosynthesis of the endogenous antioxidant, glutathione. Cysteine can chelate, and protect the body from, excess copper and other harmful metals. It also binds free radicals and serves as an antioxidant. It is best supplied as N-acetyl-L-cysteine (or NAC), because a portion of straight cysteine is converted to cystine, which is not bio-available.
is another sulfur-containing amino and protects against certain tumors. It also helps in the treatment of some schizophrenics.
aids in treatment of low pituitary gland function and is useful in the treatment of muscular dystrophy. It also is used in the treatment of hyperglycemia and hyperacidity of the stomach, as well as a biochemical disorder in which there is a Leucine imbalance, causing an offensive body and breath odor. L-glycine also has HGH-releasing properties similar to L-arginine.
is effective as a mood elevator. It too has HGH-releasing properties similar to L- arginine.
is useful in the treatment and prevention of macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is the slow wearing out of the retina of the eye, including the focal point on the retina, which is called the "macula," eventually leading to blindness. There are two types of macular degeneration: the accelerated type and the age-related type. We all have age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and if you live long enough you will go blind! That is the bad news. The good news is that you can slow down macular degeneration with taurine, perhaps to the point that something else gets you before
you go blind.
I have not given you the recommended dosages of amino acids. For this information, consult the label. In general, four grams per day is a top dose of any individual amino acid, although there are exceptions. Consult your doctor of nutritional medicine for further advice.
Doctors who are generally experienced in amino acid therapy practice nutritional medicine.