How gelatin works and why we need it
Gelatin is a protein sourced from collagen that contains 18 amino acids. 9 of these amino acids are essential to us as humans.
Essential meaning that the body cannot make them itself. They need to be supplied via the diet. Gelatin works by increasing the amount of glycine in the body.
Glycine is used to assist the liver in the detoxification process. Glycine is not an essential amino acid, so that means the body can make its own glycine.
However, giving the body more glycine by taking gelatin or making your own bone broths increases the amount of glycine available and assists the liver in its cleaning duties.
The approximate amino acid composition of gelatin is:
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They band together in chains to form the stuff from which life is born. This is a two-step process: first, they get together and form peptides or polypeptides, and it is from these groupings that proteins are made.
A total of 20 different kinds of amino acids form proteins, with the types involved determining the shape of the proteins formed. Commonly recognized ones include glutamine, glycine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine. Three of those — phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine — are essential amino acids for humans; the others are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, andthreonine. This type cannot be synthesized by the body, so they must be ingested through food.
One of the best-known essential amino acids is tryptophan, which performs several critical functions for people. It helps induce normal sleep; helps reduce anxiety, depression, and artery spasm risk; and helps produce a stronger immune system. Tryptophan is perhaps most well-known for its role in producing serotonin, which is what gets all the press at Thanksgiving time for putting people to sleep after the big holiday feast.
Amino acids make up 75% of the human body. They are essential to nearly every bodily function, and every chemical reaction that takes place in the body depends on them and the proteins that they build.
The essential amino acids must be ingested every day. Failure to get enough of even one of them can result in protein degradation, because the human body does not store them for later use, as it does with fats and starches. Amino acids can be found in many places in nature, and more than 300 have been found in the natural world from such diverse sources as microorganisms and meteorites.
Serine is a non-essential amino acid, which means that it is required for the human body to properly function, but does not need to come from an outside source. Instead, it is typically produced within the body from metabolites, such as glycine. Serine, also known as Ser, is a proteinogenic amino acid. This means it is one of the 22 amino acids that are part of the standard human genetic code. The word proteinogenic is derived from the Latin for 'protein-building.'
In 1865, this amino acid was first isolated from protein contained in silk. Silk has a large concentration of it, and the amino acid was named using the Latin word sericum, which means silk. By 1902, the the chemical structure of serine had been determined.
The main uses of serine in the human body are to assist in the function of the central nervous system (CNS), as well as with general brain operation. It is present in the myelin sheaths that cover the nerves located in the brain. Without sufficient serine, these sheaths become thin or disappear altogether, leading to an inability for the nerves to transmit messages to other parts of the body.
This amino acid also aids in the production of antibodies and immunoglobulin, both of which are essential for a healthy immune system. In addition, the presence of serine is required to create tryptophan, which in turn is used to make serotonin. Serotonin is used by the brain to regulate mood, and depression and anxiety are linked to to a lack of either serotonin or tryptophan in the body.
In order for the human body to produce this amino acid, folic acid and both vitamins B3 and B6 must be present. These compounds naturally occur in meat, peanuts, and dairy products, but a diet high in processed foods can lead to a deficiency. Supplements are available in powder and tablet forms, but are most commonly found as part of a combination supplement, such as a nuttritional sports drink.
While rare, it is possible for the human body to have a natural deficiency of this amino acid. It is an inherited condition which prevents the bio-synthesis of L-serine from occurring. The condition presents in children with symptoms such as psycho-motor retardation and seizures. Symptoms of this disorder manifest as a neurological condition, and many children are not tested for L-serine deficiency. A simple spinal fluid test is typically enough to determine if this disorder is the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Glycine is the smallest of the 20 nonessential amino acids that make up the building blocks of most plant and animal proteins, and is the primary amino acid in sugar cane. It’s commonly abbreviated as Gly or even simply “G,” and is made up of both an amino group and a carboxyl group attached to a carbon atom. It carries the chemical formula NH2CH2COOH, and is a really important part of many different functions in both humans and animals. It helps to regulate blood sugar, for instance, and plays a big part in breaking glucose sugars down into energy. It also helps regulate the synthesis of bile acids to break down fats, and acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system in the spinal cord and brain stem where it acts as a transmitter of nerve impulses. Healthy people produce it naturally, though it can also be absorbed through diet or synthetically created, too. People who have glycine imbalances may also have a range of other health problems, which has led many pharmaceutical companies to experiment with using it in various therapeutic drugs; the compound also has a number of non-health related uses in industry and manufacturing.
In the body, this compound is found mainly in muscle tissue, connective tissue and skin. It’s almost always part of a larger protein, which means that it doesn’t usually just occur on its own — in fact, it’s usually only seen in isolation in labs and other research settings where scientists intentionally break amino acids down to their elemental parts in order to see how each functions. The compound was first isolated in 1820 by Henri Braconnot, a French chemist and pharmacist who discovered this “gelatin sugar” by mixing gelatin sulfuric acid and bringing it to a boil.
Gelatin typically contains high concentrations of glycine-containing amino acids, and this may be one of the reasons it tends to have a somewhat sweet taste. Once the amino acid has been isolated, it usually takes the form of a sweet-tasting crystalline solid.
Role in General Health
The compound has a number of benefits and helps support good health in a number of ways. In addition to breaking down glucose and fats, some research has shown that it can inhibit the neurotransmitters that cause bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, and seizures. It also plays an important role in the biosynthesis of heme, an important part of hemoglobin. As a result, it is helpful and indeed essential when it comes to maintaining both a healthy central nervous system and a healthy digestive system.
It has also been thought to play an antioxidant role in protecting against some forms of cancer. Glycine’s effects can, however, be blocked with the chemical strychnine, which is present in certain pharmaceutical drugs and other medications. This interaction can result in muscle spasms, arrested breathing, and seizures.
Though this compound is really important to human health and many aspects of plant life, it’s not usually considered an “essential” part of the human diet. This is because the human body can produce the compound on its own using two naturally produced chemicals — serine andthreonine. It can also be manufactured synthetically, usually by treating chloroacetic acid with ammonia.
Just the same, there are a number of ways for people to get this compound through the foods that they eat. Unless they are experiencing a specific amino acid deficiency, though, even eating extreme quantities of these foods isn’t likely to cause much of a change since the body tends to flush out what it doesn’t need.
Dietary sources include high-protein foods such as meats, fish, dairy, and beans. Synthetically-produced supplements are available in the form of capsules or powders, and have been used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, stroke, memory problems and prostate issues. These supplements are also commonly marketed to treat low energy and fatigue caused by hypoglycemia, anemia, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
In some instances, though, the compound is synthesized for reasons that have nothing to do with health or treating diseases. Commercially, it has been used as an animal feed additive and as a sweetener and taste enhancer in food and beverage products. It is also common as a buffering agent in antacids and cosmetics, acts as a stabilizer in fertilizers, and may also be added to water used in irrigation to improve its absorption.
Hydroxyproline (HYP) is a non-essential amino acid that is derived from another amino acid, proline. It is created by the interaction of ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, and proline. This causes a hydroxyl group, which is a bonded oxygen-hydrogen molecule, to attach itself to the carbon atom of the proline acid, changing it into hydroxyproline.
In 1902, this amino acid was isolated in gelatin. It is a proteinogenic amino acid, which means that it is one of 22 amino acids that are an integral part of the human body's proteins, and is also a part of the standard human genetic code. The production of hydroxyproline takes place in the gastrointestinal tract.
Without vitamin C, the production of this amino acid is impossible. This is a serious problem, as without it, the body is unable to manufacture its most important structural protein, collagen. Both proline and hydroxyproline are essential in the formation of this key substance, and a lack of either one can lead to serious collagen instability in the body.
A deficiency of this amino acid is often one of the first visible signs of scurvy. The ultimate cause of scurvy is too little vitamin C, but this will first manifest itself as a collagen deficiency, due to the poor production of hydroxyproline. Without it, any collagen in the body becomes unstable and is often expelled in the urine. The lack of the collagen protein causes easy bruising of the skin, breakdowns in connective tissue, and possibly internal bleeding. Other issues caused by limited amounts of this amino acid include hair loss and receding gums.
Aside from collagen, the only mammalian protein that is created using hydroxyproline is elastin. As its name implies, this protein has elastic qualities, and is responsible for allowing skin to retain its shape. It is also stored, in mammals, at sites on the body where a great deal of weight is borne, or where there are large transfers of mechanical energy. This allows the body to endure movement and pressure without significant deformity. A lack of it makes this protein harder to create, but the results are not as dramatic or immediate as when collagen is not being produced.
There is no need for humans to have a dietary source for this amino acid. Its precursor, proline, is also a non-essential amino acid and is produced in the body. Vitamin C, however, is an essential nutrient for the human body, and must be consumed — most often from fruits and vegetables — for the body to function properly.
Arginine is an essential amino acid found in many different types of foods. First isolated in the latter part of the 19th century, the most common form of in use today is l arginine, which is available in many health food stores as a dietary supplement. It is also possible to find amino acids of this type in a number of meats, seafood, and vegetables.
The human body is normally able to manufacture amounts of arginine that are sufficient to meet most of the body’s needs. The remainder is supplied through consumption of various meats and vegetables. There are a number of health issues that can impair this ability, and when this happens, the individual can compensate by consuming foods that contain appreciable amounts of arginine. If necessary, taking a supplement can be added to what is ingested from a balanced diet.
There are many sources of arginine that can be incorporated into just about any diet. Dairy products contain appreciable amounts of this natural amino acid, making the use of cottage cheese and yogurt ideal sources for anyone who is counting calories. Chicken provides a decent source, as does beef and pork. Several different types of seafood are also excellent sources, including lobster, tuna and salmon.
Arginine is not limited to meats and seafood. There are a number of nuts and grains that can be used to increase arginine levels. Snacks such as peanuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts are excellent sources. Sunflower seeds, along with pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are also nutritional snacks that contain this amino acid. Oatmeal is a also a good source.
The health benefits of natural amino acids like arginine are varied. Maintaining a good level the amino acid can help to lower blood pressure and increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. It is also essential for a healthy immune system, and can aid in expediting the healing process. For men, arginine helps to maintain sperm motility and production and thus minimize the chances for infertility. For both men and women, it can help enhance circulation throughout the body, including maintaining a healthy blood flow to the reproductive organs.
Since the body can often produce a good share of arginine on its own, eating a balanced diet is usually all that is required to ingest enough to maintain good health. However, additional arginine may help people to overcome several health issues. People should consult a health professional before taking large amounts of supplements, as there is some potential for interaction with prescription medication.
Proline is an amino acid that is necessary for the functioning of the human body. It is produced by glutamate, also known as glutamic acid. With the proper diet, both glutamate and, therefore, proline are produced naturally by humans. This means that proline is a non-essential amino acid, because people do not require an outside source.
This amino acid was first found in the compound casein in 1901, and its discovery is credited to Hermann Emil Fischer, a German chemist. It occurs naturally as colorless crystals, and is soluble in water. Unlike most other amino acids, it is also soluble in alcohol. It is also one of only two amino acids — the other being glycine — that does not follow what is known as the Ramachandran Plot. This describes several typical angles which occur in the structure of amino acids, in a protein structure. Both it and glycine have angles that do not conform to the plot.
Proline is key in maintaining healthy skin as well as its underlying connective tissue. Both it and lysine are essential in the formation of collagen, a substance which cushions joints and helps to heal cartilage. This amino acid is also assists in breaking down proteins in the body, which allows the formation of new cells.
In addition, this amino acid is necessary for proper muscle tissue maintenance. Endurance runners and competitive bodybuilders often experience a lack of proline, which can lead to a decrease in muscle tissue. Without a sufficient source of glutamic acid, the precursor to proline, the body will consume its own muscle tissue for energy, limiting or completely negating any muscle gains from exercise.
The most common natural sources of this compound are meat and dairy products, as they contain high levels of glutamate. A person consuming limited amounts of protein, or on a strict vegetarian diet, is at risk of deficiency and should consider a supplement. Proline supplements are most commonly found as part of combination amino acid formulas.
One of the most common medical uses of this acid is to treat a serious tissue injury, as additional proline in the body promotes skin regrowth and elasticity. It is also used in treatments for back pain and arthritis, owing to its joint-cushioning effects. The daily recommended dosage for this amino acid is between 500 and 1,000 milligrams (mg). Research has also shown an increase in effectiveness when it is combined with vitamin C.
Tyrosine, also known as 4-hydroxyphenylalanine or L-Tyrosine, is a nonessential amino acid that the body synthesizes from another amino acid called phenylalanine. It is named from the Greektyros, which translates to mean “cheese,” because it is found in casein protein in cheese and other dairy products. Other natural food sources include fish, avacados, bananas, lima beans, almonds, peanuts, and sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
This amino acid plays a significant role in metabolism. For one thing, it interacts with proteins that undergo signal transduction to initiate various cellular processes. Tyrosine receptor kinases serve as pathways to transport phosphate compounds in a process known as phosphorylation that yields phosphotyrosine. These activities involve virtually every protein in the body and are responsible for regulating the manufacture of several enzymes. In addition, tyrosine is a precursor to several other substances, including neurotransmitting brain chemicals, the hormones produced by the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands, and the skin pigment melanin.
Specifically, tyrosine is necessary for the body to synthesize serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters are involved with signaling between nerve cells and synapses in the brain. These agents also affect mood and libido, which is why these substances are sometimes called the “feel good hormones.” In fact, several studies indicate that supplementation of this amino acid may help to relieve chronic stress, anxiety, and mild depression.
A true deficiency of tyrosine is rare, but abnormal utilization does occur in certain syndromes. For instance, oculocutaneous albinism is characterized by an inability to synthesize melanin from from the amino acid. Phenylketonuria is marked by an inability to synthesize phenylalanine into tyrosine, a condition that can lead to brain damage. While this condition may constitute a deficiency, dietary phenylalanine must be strictly avoided and tyrosine supplementation must be supervised. Low levels may also equate to low levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxin, a condition that can promote hypothyroidism and impaired central nervous system functioning.
Since there are few cases where tyrosine supplementation is needed, there are no standard dietary recommendations in place. However, in the absence of uncommon syndromes such as those mentioned above, a low level may be indicated by a low body temperature or low blood pressure. A consultation with a qualified health care practitioner is advised before supplementing with this amino acid.
If tyrosine supplementation is found to be necessary, it is available in tablet or capsule form in units of between 50-1,000 mgs. To facilitate absorption, it is recommended that supplements be taken with a meal that includes carbohydrates, preferably just before retiring to bed. In addition, taking vitamin B6, folic acid — or vitamin B9 as folate — and copper also helps to increase absorption of this amino acid.
L-Valine, or valine, is a proteinogenic amino acid that the body uses in the synthesis of protein. It is one of the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) responsible for repairing and strengthening the muscle tissues. Being an essential amino acid, it must be obtained from the diet or through supplements. This amino acid can be obtained from a variety of foods, including both animal and plant foods.
The synthesis of L-Valine can only take place in plants from pyruvic acid. The process also involves certain enzymes and is carried out in several steps. Some good food sources are meats, fish, and dairy products. Good plant-based sources are grain products, nuts and seeds, and many vegetables, including sea vegetables.
Most of the L-Valine is absorbed into the muscles, where it works to replenish them on an ongoing basis. L-Valine and the other two BCAAs, which are L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine, make up about one third of all the amino acids that get absorbed into the muscles. Together, they are able to prevent muscle disorders and are also responsible for carrying out many functions of the body.
There are many benefits of L-Valine for those who engage in regular exercise and bodybuilding. When present, it helps to increase the strength and endurance of the muscles and speeds up the recovery of fatigued muscles after workouts or competitions. A speedy recovery of the muscles can prevent them from breaking down and losing their tone. As a result of those benefits, L-Valinesupplements are often taken by bodybuilders and competing athletes to maintain and improve their strength.
Other benefits include a reduced appetite, which can help to maintain a healthy weight. Themetabolism of glucose, a form of sugar that the body uses for energy, is also improved. Those who have trouble sleeping can benefit due to its ability to reduce insomnia. It can also reduce nervousness and strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system in return is able to prevent a host of serious illnesses and common ailments.
A deficiency in L-Valine and other BCAAs can result in poor muscle function and neurological problems. It is associated with mental depression and short stature, and it increases the risk for drug addictions. An overdose of L-Valine, on the other hand, can lead to possible side effects. Some of them include false illusions, emotional problems, and the sensation of something crawling on the skin. Headaches and other aches and pains can also occur if taken in excess amounts.
Since collagen, a protein support structure for hair, is dependent on the amino acid lysine, the lack of lysine and hair loss are positively correlated. Research shows that those with alopecia, hair breakage, and reduced hair growth often suffer from insufficient lysine. Another link between lysine and baldness is that lysine can be effective in blocking an enzyme responsible for baldness.
Lysine serves as a building block for collagen in hair cells specifically because it aids in the body’s absorption of calcium; calcium is one of the main factors required for the formation of collagen in nails, hair, and skin. Low lysine levels in the body are often the result of imbalanced nutrition. Daily servings of proteins from sources such as meat, eggs, fish or beans are generally sufficient to prevent low levels of lysine and hair loss. People most at risk of suffering from lysine insufficiency are vegans who do not consume enough legumes and athletes whose muscular physiques require higher protein demands.
The ability of lysine to block the enzyme 5-alpha reductase type 2 helps in preventing baldness, particularly male-patterned baldness characterized by the loss of hair at the front and top of the head. This enzyme is known for converting testosterone in the body into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which causes hair follicles to stop producing hair. In the presence of lysine, however, the enzyme’s conversion power is inhibited. While the correlation between lysine and hair loss linked to DHT affects mainly men, women can still benefit from lysine beyond its collagen formation powers. Research shows that while iron supplementation is often prescribed for women with hair loss, lysine is typically prescribed simultaneously because it enhances iron’s ability to reverse alopecia.
Bodily stores of lysine can often be replenished through supplementation. Trichologists suggest that 500 mg to 800 mg a day may be sufficient to halt or reverse hair loss linked to a dearth of lysine. The benefits of using supplementation to treat a lack of lysine and hair loss include convenience and multiple forms of application and consumption. Many companies produce lysine-based creams that can be rubbed into the scalp and hair; there are also liquid lysine supplements touted for their quick absorption. Capsules and tablets are alternative options.
While natural lysine obtained from a balanced diet is safe, high lysine supplementation for long periods of time can often result in gall stones. Other side effects of lysine supplementation include higher cholesterol and kidney malfunction or complete renal failure. People already plagued by kidney or liver disorders are advised by doctors to avoid lysine supplementation, as are pregnant women.
Leucine is an amino acid that is found in many types of protein and is considered to be necessary for the proper absorption of various types of nutrients. Leucine acid is also available in supplement form and is popular among people who engage in sports activities on a regular basis. Leucine amino acid is also used as a food additive, as the compound can help to enhance the flavor of many different types of food.
In the body, leucine is produced by the process of hydrolysis. The acid is used in muscle tissue, the liver, and in adipose tissue. In the case of muscle and adipose tissue, leucine is one of the components needed to form sterols.
There are several ways in which the leucine protein product helps maintain proper function of various organs and muscle groups. One important role of the amino acid involved helping the body to maintain a proper blood glucose level. Individuals diagnosed with Type I or II diabetes may benefit from making sure the diet is rich in protein while minimizing the intake ofcarbohydrates.
Leucine is also helpful with maintaining the various muscle systems in the body. One of the most important benefits is that leucine can help to delay the deterioration of muscle tissue while enhancing the production of muscle proteins. For people who are physically active, this means the muscles do not tire as easily and also do not begin to break down under stress as quickly.
When proper amounts of leucine are maintained in the body, healing of scratches and other small wounds occur more efficiently. Hormone production is also aided by the presence of this amino acid.
Should the body fail to receive enough leucine through food consumption, several symptoms may develop. Loss of muscle strength, fatigue, and headaches are not uncommon. In some situations, the individual may also experience bouts with dizziness and become extremely irritable. When deficiency is suspected, it is a good idea to increase the amount of protein in the diet or take a daily leucine supplement in order to correct the problem.
While there is some difference of opinion on whether or not excess amounts of the amino acid can be toxic, there are some reported instances where a high intake of leucine supplements led to the presence of more ammonia in the body. There is also some support for a link between the incidence of pellagra and too much leucine in the body.
While most people will obtain adequate amounts of leucine by eating a diet with an equitable amount of protein each day, supplements may be necessary in some instances. This is particularly true if the body becomes depleted due to any factor that either inhibits the production of leucine in the body or requires larger amounts of leucine than the diet can reasonably provide. Supplements of the amino acid can usually be obtained from any health food store or vitamin shop at reasonable prices.
Aspartic acid is a type of amino acid that can be found in various foods, in certain artificial sweeteners, and inside of the human body. Unlike other types of acid, aspartic acid is considered a non-essential acid, which means that the body does not need to derive this type of acid from any other source, since it naturally occurs within the body.
Even though the human body produces this type of acid naturally, some people may have a non-essential acid deficiency. These people must either consume foods that contain aspartic acid, or obtain a medical prescription for aspartates. Asparates are supplements that can be used to increase the amount of non-essential acids within the body. Frequently, athletes are prescribed asparates, since these supplements can act as a barrier against any athletic injury while also increasing athletic ability.
Foods that contain aspartic acid include molasses, sugar cane, certain types of meat, some sprouted seed varieties, and some dairy products. Various health professionals believe that people who have insufficient levels of protein also have lower levels of aspartic acid, since meat is a top source of this type of acid. Thus, people who have low protein levels may also suffer from extreme fatigue and bouts of depression due to a lack of non-essential acid, though these symptoms are not solely reserved for people who do not eat meat.
While often disregarded by those outside of the medical community, aspartic acid is extremely important to the human body. Not only does this type of acid help to keep the brain alert, it also removes harmful toxins, such as ammonia, from the liver. In addition, this non-essential acid helps keep a person's metabolism functioning properly and efficiently. In short, people who have diminished levels of aspartic acid often suffer many mental and physical health problems.
Even though certain asparates may be available through health food stores, it is not recommended that these supplements be taken without the assurance of a medical doctor. People who do not need an extra dose of non-essential acid may be harmed by an asparate. Thus, it is best to speak with one's doctor prior to attempting to increase non-essential acid levels.
Since people who have low non-essential acid levels often feel fatigued and depressed, it is important that anyone experiencing these symptoms speak with a medical doctor. While there are other causes for fatigue and depression, many people feel more energetic and less depressed by following an asparate routine.
Glutamic acid contributes to the health of the immune and digestive systems, as well as energy production. Muscle tissues are an important site for storing and producing this amino acid. Each day approximately 80g of glutamic acid is release from the muscles into circulation to be used throughout the body.
Glutamic acid is in the same amino acid family group as glutamine and they can alter their structure to transform into each other. Glutamine is required by the muscles more than any other amino acid. Body builders and other athletes that rely on muscle mass, endurance and strength often have a higher demand for glutamine. Glutamine is rapidly used by muscles during exercise. Consequently, having an adequate supply of glutamine/glutamic acid is important to support a healthy, active body.
One of the major roles of glutamic acid is as an excitatory neurotransmitter within the central nervous system. It’s the most common neurotransmitter found within the spinal cord and brain. As a neurotransmitter, this amino acid influences several areas of the brain including the thalamus, brain stem, spinal cord, basal ganglia and pons. Before glutamic acid can act as a neurotransmitter it must be attached to specific receptors located in the central nervous system. One of these receptors is the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor, and here it regulates the number of calcium, sodium and magnesium ions that can enter and exit the cells.
In addition to being a neurotransmitter in its own right, glutamic acid is also important in the synthesis of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). An inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA has the opposite effect of glutamic acid and helps to decrease activity within the central nervous system. Due to glutamic acids’ influence on other neurotransmitters, this amino acid has an integral role in a number of neuropsychological conditions.
Treating Neuropsychological Conditions
Glutamic acid is very important in the treatment of conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and other mood related disorders. Studies have shown that individuals that suffer from these neuropsychological conditions typically have an unbalanced ratio or concentration of neurotransmitters. Low GABA levels are frequently associated with severe depression, neuroticism, anxiety and manic mood states12. There may also be a link between glutamic acid and aggression, with studies showing that mice engaged in aggressive behavior have low levels of GABA and glutamic acid3.
Healthy Brain Function
Glutamic acid is essentially a fuel for the brain. In addition to providing a direct energy source for the brain to function at a high level, this amino acid simulates mental alertness and improved memory function. Because of the important role this amino acid has in cognitive function, some medical practitioners recommend supplementation to treat conditions such as attention deficit disorder (ADD). The belief is that glutamic acid will help children with behavioural problems and make it easier for them to concentrate and facilitate a better learning environment.
Detoxification & Immune System Support
Glutamic acid is essential for detoxifying ammonia. This amino acid bonds to nitrogen atoms and in turn, creates glutamine. This conversion from glutamic acid into glutamine is the only way to remove this toxic metabolic waste product, making it essential for a healthy body. Glutamic acid is also required for the synthesis of glutathione, one of the most effective and abundant antioxidants in the body. Glutathione is extremely important in the neutralisation of free radicals, helping to protect cells and boost the immune system.
Research has shown that glutamic acid may play a role in protecting the heart in patients with heart disease. Glutamic acid in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG) can increase exercise tolerance and improve heart function when injected intravenously in patients with stable angina pectoris 4. This amino acid may also help to reduce chest pain commonly associated with coronary heart disease.
Glutamic acid plays a very important role in facilitating the normal functioning of the prostrate. Consequently, prostate fluid has a high glutamic acid concentration. As men age, the prostate gland begins to enlarge, a condition referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Glutamic acid supplementation is often recommended to help patients reduce the symptoms of this condition.
Sources of Glutamic Acid
Glutamic acid can be sourced from high protein foods such as fish, meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Protein rich vegetables are also a good source of this amino acid. Certain legumes, like lentils and beans, have particularly high concentrations of glutamic acid. In addition to occurring naturally in foods, this amino acid is frequently used as an additive to enhance the flavour of certain products. Often is added in the form or monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Glutamic acid can also be taken as a dietary supplement. Many supplements contain glutamine, which is closely associated to glutamic acid. The recommended daily dose of these supplements can vary from between 500 and 2,000 mg. It’s important that individuals consult their doctor before taking glutamic acid supplements, especially if suffering from liver or kidney diseases, as well as any neurological disease. Although a safe amino acid, there can be some side effects from supplementation, such as headaches and fatigue.
In most cases, supplementation isn’t necessary. Most people are able to obtain enough glutamic acid from their diet. Deficiencies can occur in malnourished individuals or those that have problems with their immune system. In the case of a deficiency, symptoms include lethargy, fatigue, insomnia and the inability to concentrate. These symptoms are characteristic of excessive ammonia build-up. Body builders and other athletes may find supplements helpful to better support the body during exercise regimes and sporting competitions.
In addition to protein synthesis, glutamic acid has several key functions within the body. It acts as an important neurotransmitter and is involved in the synthesis of other neurotransmitters, such as GABA. Thus, this amino acid is critical for healthy brain development and function. It helps to stimulate learning, alertness, long term memory and other cognitive functions. Glutamic acid is also important for energy production, protecting the immune system, removing toxic ammonia from the body and supporting muscle growth and function.
Glutamic acid is often used within treatments for a range of neurological disorders. Research has also shown that this amino acid is important in the protection of the heart muscle and promoting good prostate health in men. Many athletes also benefit from glutamic acid due to its ability to provide the necessary energy for muscle function, thus increasing endurance and supporting muscle growth. Most people receive enough glutamic acid through biosynthesis and diet. In some situations supplementation may be beneficial, although it’s recommended to consult a doctor first.
Histidine is one of 22 amino acids derived from foods with high protein content, as well as certain grains. It is one of the aromatic amino acids that start out being an essential amino acid in human infants, but then later become a non-essential amino acid as the body begins to synthesize it fromimidazole, an organic compound and component of the aromatic ring in the acid’s chemical structure. Histidine is also a precursor of certain amines and amino acid peptides, such as histamine and carnosine. The full chemical name for this substance is written as 2-Amino-3-(1H-imidazol-4-yl)propanoic acid, but this is often abbreviated to L-histidine, His, or simply “H.”
Like other amino acids, histidine is found in virtually every cell in the body, and is involved in several biological functions. It is key to the formation of the myelin sheath, the protective barrier that surrounds neural cells and supports the transmission of brain signals to different parts of the body. It also participates in the detoxification of heavy metals and other cellular debris for elimination through the liver and kidneys. This substance is necessary in order for the body to manufacture both white and red blood cells. Finally, since this acid is involved in the production of histamine, it plays a role in making gastric enzymes needed for proper digestion, assisting the immune system in responding to the presence of allergens, and promoting normal sexual function.
L-histidine is required to enable the body to metabolize many trace minerals, including iron, zinc, copper, and manganese. For instance, in terms of iron utilization, it is needed to produce ferritinand "Fur," otherwise known as the iron storage protein and the iron uptake regulation protein, respectively. Histidine is also needed to produce a variety of enzymes, such as the antioxidant super oxide dismutase.
There is evidence to suggest that low levels of histidine, or impaired metabolism, may be linked to a variety of disorders. For example, researchers suspect that a deficiency may lead to an increased risk for the development of rheumatoid arthritis in some people. Abnormally low levels have also been linked to hearing loss following an injury due to specialized myelin sheath cells, called “Schwann cells,” failing to initiate the repair of damaged nerves. In contrast, high levels of this amino acid have been linked to a greater prevalence of depression and anxiety disorders, as well as schizophrenia.
While supplementation with this amino acid may benefit certain individuals, it is contraindicated in others. For one thing, its effects on the central nervous system and the regulation of histamine suggest that people with depressive disorders should avoid it unless otherwise directed by a physician. In addition, people with kidney or liver disorders should not take this amino acid in supplement form.
Threonine (T or Thr) is an amino acid, or a molecule that is one of the building blocks of proteins. It is an essential amino acid, meaning that it can’t be made by the body and therefore must be acquired through the diet. Many different foods contain threonine, including most meats, chicken, cottage cheese, mushrooms, and some leafy vegetables.
This amino acid supports many different body functions. Threonine is required for the formation of healthy bones and teeth and plays a role in the immune system because it is a necessary constituent of antibodies. It is also present in large amounts in muscle and connective tissues. It is thought to help contribute to their strength and elasticity due to its high proportion in collagen and elastin. Finally, it is required for the synthesis of certain neurotransmitters, suggesting a role in neural health.
It is well known that threonine is a necessary building block of many proteins, but its actual role inmetabolism is not as well known. This amino acid can be converted to pyruvate or to alpha-ketobutyrate and eventually to succinyl-CoA, suggesting an association with the citric acid cycle. It is one of the amino acids that can be phosphorylated, which is a major mechanism by which cells control various signaling pathways. In addition, it is required for the body to synthesize two non-essential amino acids, glycine and serine, both of which play important roles in various physiological functions.
Due to the large amount of foods that contain this amino acid, threonine deficiency is considered rare in most westernized countries. Some vegetarians, vegans, or people with very restricted diets, however, may show slight deficiency of this amino acid. Symptoms of deficiency are usually psychological in nature, such as depression or excessive nervousness. Other symptoms may include digestive problems and, in severe cases, the build-up of fats in the liver, potentially leading to liver failure. People who suspect they have low threonine intake can safely supplement their diets by daily drinking a protein shake or eating a protein bar.
Some experiments have suggested that threonine may help to manage the symptoms of two diseases that affect muscle and nerve function: Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS). It may also help with mild depression. High levels of threonine can cause severe liver problems and possible ammonia toxicity in the body, so taking therapeutic doses of this amino acid is not recommended to anyone who is not under a doctor’s care.
Alanine is a nonessential amino acid that can help the body convert glucose into energy. Also known as l-alanine, the amino acid also helps the liver process and eliminate various types of toxins from the body. These functions help to slow the process of using muscle protein in order to fuel the body, as well as aid in keeping blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
The body manufactures alanine by identifying the presence of any excess amino acids in the tissues or cells and transferring those acids to a receptor molecule that is known as pyruvate. Pyruvate is created when glucose is broken down in the body. The infusion of these excess amino acids into the pyruvate results in the production of alanine that is then moved into the liver. The liver in turn breaks down this amino acide and makes use of the nitrogen content to create more pyruvate and repeat the production cycle. Any excess nitrogen is expelled from the liver, taking along any toxins that are currently present.
Because the body is capable of manufacturing its own supply of alanine, the amino acid is considered nonessential, in terms of the need to supply the acid by means of ingesting food or some type of supplement. However, this nonessential status is based on the normal operation of the body, including the normal processing of glucose in the blood. In situations where the body’s ability to produce and make use of alanine is impaired, supplementation can help restore a normal balance, and make it easier to maintain healthy glucose levels, as well as support the function of the liver.
Supplementation of this nonessential amino acid may be necessary for people who suffer from various types of health problems. Along with helping diabetics maintain healthy blood glucose levels, those recovering from eating disorders or some type of liver disease may find that taking in extra alanine is helpful. People with low energy levels, such as those who suffer with Epstein-Barr syndrome or chronic fatigue syndrome, may also find that additional alanine helps to minimize the constant sense of being tired.
Fortunately, there are a number of foods that contain varying amounts of alanine. Fish is an excellent example, as is a number of different types of red meat and pork. Many dairy products, as well as eggs and poultry, also contain significant amounts of this nonessential amino acid. Avocados are also a good source when it has been determined that supplementation would be in the best interests of the individual.
Before starting to use supplements, it is important to consult a physician. This is especially true if there is some type of kidney or liver problem present. Introducing excessive amounts of nitrogen into the body can make it difficult for those organs to manage toxins and waste efficiently.
Methionine is a protein-based amino acid and lipotropic compound that helps with metabolismand breaks down fat. It can also help with chelation, which is the removal of heavy metals from the body to ensure that the liver, kidneys, and bladder remain healthy. This amino acid preserves artery function and maintains healthy nails, hair, and skin. Additionally, it is essential for muscle growth and energy.
The human body does not naturally produce methionine, so humans can only get it by ingesting it. Sources include protein-rich foods like eggs, fish, and Brazil nuts, as well as cereal grains. People can also get it through a supplement or through intravenous (IV) therapy administered by a health care provider.
Maintaining a sufficient level of methionine in the body helps ensure overall good health. Some common but significant side effects of deficiency include liver damage, edema, and brittle hair. Low levels can slow normal growth and development in children, and in pregnant women may result in neural tube defects in infants, such as myelomeningocele or spina bifida. Deficiencies can also lead to severe mental disorders.
The most common medical use of this amino acid is as a preventative treatment for liver damage caused by acetaminophen poisoning. Acetaminophen is typically found in prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers. Taking too much can cause serious liver damage. Medical care staff usually administer methionine orally or intravenously within 10 hours of an overdose in order to help prevent liver damage.
This compound is also prescribed by alternative medical practitioners to boost protein levels for vegetarians and vegans who may not ingest enough in their normal diets. It is beneficial for those who metabolize large quantities of proteins, such as athletes, and is often recommended as a protein replacement for people who are considered heavy drinkers. Patients suffering from adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may consider taking this supplement for chelation; and those with fibromyalgia might take it to help their muscles work properly.
In addition, this substance works to reduce histamine levels in the body to allow the nerves to work properly and to assist with memory. Histamines act as neurotransmitters, so problems with histamine levels can affect how the nerves work throughout the body. They can cause allergic reactions and dilate blood vessels, affecting the way the brain sends and receives messages. As a result, methionine supplements are sometimes given to those with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Side Effects and Precautions
Methionine can cause allergic reactions and other side effects, regardless of the form its taken in. The most common side effects are nausea and vomiting. Some people feel drowsy after taking it. Emergency medical attention may be necessary if a person shows signs of a several allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, chest tightness, and swelling.
Pregnant women or nursing mothers should not take methionine supplements without first consulting their healthcare provider, because it's not clear how they affect a postpartum body. Those who take oral contraceptives should also inform a medical professional before taking it, since it increases estrogen production. This amino acid can worsen existing conditions such as liver disease, acidosis, and schizophrenia. While it has no known negative interactions with other drugs, patients should tell their medical care provider about any other medications or supplements they are using prior to starting methionine.
Isoleucine is an amino acid that is essential for the diet of humans and animals. It must be obtained from external food sources. This amino acid is important for many biochemical reactions in the body, and errors in metabolism can have drastic consequences. It is also used to treat burn victims, and is taken as a supplement by body builders.
Proteins are comprised of chains of amino acids, which always contain carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. They have a carboxylate (COOH) group on one end and an amino (NH2) group on the other. The rest of the molecule varies. The isoleucine structure has a side chain comprised of a branch of four carbon atoms with accompanying hydrogen atoms, and does not contain any double bonds. It is called a branched chain amino acid(BCAA), along with the amino acids leucineand valine.
All of these amino acids are essential for humans and animals. They are normally consumed as protein components. Food from animals can provide all of the essential amino acids, but there are a number of others that are also needed to synthesize proteins. Some plant sources provide most of these necessary amino acids, and, if one eats many different plant-based foods, this should lead to a diet that contains all the amino acids that are needed for proper body function.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that an adult with a body weight of 154 lb (70 kg) consume .05 oz (1.4 g) of isoleucine daily. Most people already get enough from their diet, but people who eat a low protein diet or exercise vigorously must sometimes take supplements. If one does take these, one should be sure that it provides a proper balance of leucine and valine. If there are problems with kidney or liver function, a doctor should be consulted before taking these amino acids.
Leucine, valine, and isoleucine make up a significant amount of the human body’s skeletal muscle. Protein synthesis is another function. Isoleucine and valine can also be metabolized during fasting or intense exercise to form glucose, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
Some people have rare genetic disorders in isoleucine metabolism that can be detected by the presence of breakdown products in the urine. Such illnesses can cause severe problems in the brain, along with other symptoms. One such disorder is known as Maple Syrup Urine Disease, and involves an accumulation of all of the BCAAs and their breakdown products.
All of the BCAAs have side chains that are hydrophobic, meaning they are repelled by water. Because of this tendency, they tend to bury within the interior of molecules. This gives them a significant effect on maintaining the three-dimensional structure of proteins. They can also be involved in the protein’s binding and recognition of hydrophobic compounds, such as lipids.
Isoleucine is present in only one form in proteins, and this is L-isoleucine. The molecule has the capability to exist as different forms that are mirror images of each other. These are referred to as stereoisomers. There are four of them: D- and L-isoleucine, and D- and L-alloisoleucine.
Phenylalanine is an amino acid, commonly found in food, that is used by the body to form proteins. Phenylalanine is sometimes taken as a dietary supplement. It is thought to have potential to relieve pain and depression, among other things. People with phenylketonuria (PKU) do not have the ability to break down this amino acid, causing it to accumulate and cause brain damage. PKU is a rare inherited genetic disorder.
Like the other 19 or 20 amino acids, phenylalanine is a nitrogen-containing molecule. It is composed of an amine group and a carboxyl group, and an identifying side chain. The side chain in this case is a phenyl group. It is an essential amino acid, meaning that it cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet.
As a supplement, phenylalanine is often taken in a form that also incorporates a close chemical cousin. Certain supplementary preparations can have complex effects on the body, so medical guidance is recommended. Phenylalanine has been studied in relation to health conditions such as depression, general and specific pain, and Parkinson's disease. Most people are not deficient in phenylalanine because of its widespread presence in healthy diets. High amounts of supplementation could lead to toxicity, and people with PKU should never take phenylalanine supplements.
PKU is an genetic disorder that results from an inability to convert phenylalanine to the amino acidtyrosine. In people who have PKU, phenylalanine builds up in the brain, where it can cause severe damage like mental retardation. In most developed countries, screening for the condition at birth can prevent or greatly reduce the damaging effects of this disorder. This is because the greatest amount of damage occurs in the first days after birth. Although adults seem less vulnerable to nerve damage, lifetime dietary restrictions have been found to be helpful in managing the condition.
Phenylalanine is found in most foods that contain protein, so avoiding it is difficult. People with PKU must follow a strict and often complex diet low in phenylalanine to avoid complications from the disorder. Aid from a doctor and dietitian is an important factor in designing and following such a restricted diet. People with PKU should not consume products artificially sweetened with aspartame, some of which have PKU warning labels. This is because aspartame is made by combining phenylalanine with another amino acid.
Sources of information for Amino Acid explanations and descriptions come from
Wise Geek - wisegeek.com
Amino Acid Studies - http://aminoacidstudies.org/
We encourage readers to do their own research if uncertain about the products they intend to take.
Gelatin is pure collagen
Gelatin has been used for many different reasons over the years. As gelatin is a pure collagen, it has been known to increase mobility of the joints, strengthens connective tissue, aids digestion, and assists with the body’s natural detoxification process. “Amino acids are the building blocks that make protein in our body.” The four main amino acids in gelatin are glycine, proline, hydroxyproline and alanine. Glycine and proline are responsible for the unusual fibrous property of collagen.
Glycine is the smallest of the amino acids and is classed non-essential. It is called non-essential as our body is able to make its own. We mainly get glycine from proteins such as beef, chicken, fish, dairy and legumes. However to treat some conditions effectively we actually need more than the average daily 2g of glycine that we get from our diet. This is when we may need to supplement with glycine. Glycine is used to help create muscle tissue and convert glucose to energy, it also helps to boost our levels of creatine, which helps build muscle mass. Glycine also helps to repair damaged tissues, without it our wounds would never heal. About 1/3 of collagen (this is the stuff that keeps our skin and connective tissue firm and flexible) is made of glycine. Another big thing that glycine does is it helps us sleep. That is why having a tablespoon of gelatin in warm milk before bed can help send us into a restful slumber! See our recipe section for our bedtime sleep tonic recipe.
Proline is also a non-essential amino acid necessary for the production of collagen and cartilage. It keeps muscles and joints flexible. It is also used in the development and maintenance of healthy skin, muscle and connective tissues, especially at the site of traumatic tissue injury. This is why proline supplementation may be beneficial for treatment of conditions such as osteoarthritis, soft tissue trauma, and chronic back pain.
Hydroxyproline is formed through the breakdown of the amino acid proline in the gastrointestinal tract and is essential for the stability of the collagen molecule.
Alanine is the amino acid that helps the body convert the simple sugar, glucose into energy and eliminate excess toxins from the liver. Alanine has been shown to help protect cells from being damaged during intense aerobic activity, when the body cannibalises muscle protein to help produce energy.