Amino Acid List and Best Bet Foods
Alanine—What it does:
- Aids in metabolism of glucose
- Epstein-Barr and chronic fatigue have been associated with excessive Alanine, Tyrosine and Phenylalanine levels.
Arginine–What it does:
- Retards growth of tumors and cancer.
- Enhances immune function
- Increases size and activity of the thymus gland
- Aids in liver detoxification by neutralizing ammonia
- Sexual maturity may be delayed with deficiency
- Used in treating sterility in men by increasing sperm count
- Helpful in the healing/repair of skin and connective tissue
- Important in muscle metabolism
- Maintains proper nitrogen balance
- Aids in weight loss by increasing muscle mass
- Involved with the regulation of many enzymes and hormones
- Stimulates pancreas to release insulin
- Is a component of the pituitary hormone vasopressin
- Helps in the release of growth hormone
- Aids in building new bone and collagen
- Can be good for arthritis
Arginine Deficiency signs: Angina, congestive heart failure, infertility, minor injuries, decreased athletic performance, gastitis, high blood pressure, impotence, slow wound healing. Stress uses up Arginine.
Best bet foods for Arginine: Carob, chocolate, coconut, dairy products, gelatin, meat, oats, nuts, raw cereals, peanuts, soybeans, walnuts, white flour, wheat, and wheat germ.
Contraindicated with those who are suffering from viral infections, pregnant, lactating women and those with schizophrenia should avoid ingesting over 30 mgs. per day.
Asparagine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Maintains balance within the central nervous system
- Helps amino acids to convert to what they are supposed to in the liver
Best Bet Foods for Asparagine: Meat
Aspartic Amino Acid–What it does:
- Increases stamina
- Good for fatigue
- Vital role in metabolism
- Good for chronic fatigue
- Beneficial for neural and brain disorders
- Helps to remove excess ammonia from the body
- Aids cell function and the function of RNA and DNA
- Enhances production of immunoglobulins and antibodies
Best Bet Foods for Aspartic Acid: Sprouts
Bragg’s Amino Acids: This isn’t really an amino acid, it is a soy-sauce tasting condiment derives from fermented soy that has amino acids in it. It’s good! Every house should have a bottle. Check out their website at www.bragg.com
Carnitine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Related to B-Vitamins
- Helps transport long-chain fatty acids to provide muscle energy
- Increases the use of fat as an energy source
- Helps with diabetes by helping to use fats
- Inhibits alcohol-induced fatty liver
- Lessens the risk of heart disorders
- Lowers blood triglycerides
- Aids in weight loss
- Improves muscle strength in people with neuro-muscular disorders
- Deficiency may lead to certain muscular dystrophies
- Symptoms of deficiency: confusion, heart pain, muscle weakness, obesity.
Signs of Carnitine Deficiency: Angina, Congestive Heart Failure, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes, High Triglycerides, Infertility, Intermittent claudication, minor injuries from exercise, decreased endurance, High cholesterol, Raynaud’s disease.
Best Bet Foods for Carnitine: Dairy and meat and other food of animal origin. Vegetarians should eat corn products fortified with lysine to help overcome deficiency. Can also take L-Carnitine. Deficiency may be a result of oxygen deficiency, so breath!
Citrulline Amino Acid–What it does:
- Promotes energy
- Stimulates the Immune system
- Metabolized to form L-Arginine
- Detoxifies ammonia
Best Bet Foods for Citrulline: Liver
Cysteine and Cystine Amino Acid–What they do:
- Cysteine is very unstable and converts easily to Cystine
- Contain bioavailable sulfur
- Important in detoxification
- Important for strong nails, skin and hair
- Aids in the production of collagen
- Promotes elasticity of skin
- Found in digestive enzymes
- Helps detoxify the body and protect it from radiation damage
- Free radical destroyer
- Helps protect the liver from alcohol, drugs, and toxins from cigarettes
- Helpful with rheumatoid arthritis
- Helpful with hardening of the arteries
- Helpful with mutagenic aspects of cancer
- Promotes healing after surgeries and burns
- Chelates heavy metals (like copper)
- Helps iron to absorb into the body (binds it)
- Promotes fat burning
- Helps to break down mucus (so used for bronchitis, emphysema and tuberculosis)
- Helps strengthen white cell activity
- Helps with age spots
Best Bet Cysteine and Cystine Foods/supplements:
Found as NAC (N-acetylcystine), L-Cysteine tablets or free-form amino acids. Eggs, meat, dairy and some cereals.
Caution: Diabetics beware. May inactivate insulin. People with the rare genetic condition that causes cystinuria should not take this supplement.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)–What it does:
- Acts as a neurotransmitter in the Central Nervous System
- Essential for brain metabolism
- Inhibits nerve cells from over firing thus prevention anxiety and stress-related nervousness
- Acts like Valium or Librium without the fear of addiction
- Used in the treatment of epilepsy and hypertension
- Increases libido because it acts as a relaxant
- Useful for enlarged prostates
- Useful for Attention Deficit Disorder
Too much GABA can cause anxiety, shortness of breath, numbness around the mouth and tingling extremities.
Best Sources of GABA: GABA comes in tablets. Choose a high-quality supplement that is standardized so you won’t be over or under dosed. I like Source Naturals or Solaray Brands.
Glutamic Amino Acid–What it does:
- Used to build proteins
- The prostate gland secretions are high in glutamic acid so it can be used as a treatment for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
- Important in the metabolism of sugars and fats
- Aids in the transportation of potassium across the blood-brain barrier
- The brain uses glutamic acid as fuel
- Conversion of glutamic acid into glutamine is the only means by which ammonia in the brain can be detoxified
- Helps to correct personality disorders
- Useful in treating childhood behavioral disorders
- Used in the treatment of epilepsy, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, ulcers, and hypoglycemic coma
Best Bet Glutamic Acid Sources: Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and some protein-rich foods. Free-form amino acids and tablet form are also available.
Glutamine Amino Acid–What it does:
- The most abundant amino acid in the body, it is a protein building block
- Involved in many metabolic processes (more than any other amino acid)
- Converted to glucose when needed
- Used as an energy source
- Serves as fuel for cells lining the intestine
- Used by White Blood Cells for immune function
- Has anti-inflammatory effects so used for arthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibrosis, connective tissue diseases such as polymyositis and scleroderma
- Used for tissue damage due to radiation treatments for cancer
- May help with depression, enhances mental functioning
- Used for epilepsy, fatigue, impotence, schizophrenia, senility and developmental disabilities
- Used to increase athletic performance
- Useful for dieters and body builders
- Used for alcohol withdrawal support. Helps to decrease craving
- Used for gastritis, peptic ulcers and ulcerative colitis (“It’s a miracle.” Says one of my clients who owns a dog with constant diarrhea.)
- Used for HIV support
Note: Stress and illness use lots of glutamine up. The body can be supported with supplemental Glutamine.
Best Bet Glutamine Sources: Parsley, Spinach-raw, Fish, meat, beans, dairy products and free-form amino acid and tablets. Cooking destroys the amino acid, so eating more raw foods is highly beneficial. Free-form amino acid powder must be kept totally dry or it will convert to ammonia and pyroglutamic acid.
Contraindications for Glutamine: People with liver or kidney diseases, Reye’s syndrome or other disorders resulting in the accumulation of ammonia in the blood.
Although the names sound similar, glutamine, glutamic acid, glutamate, glutathione, gluten and monosodium glutamate are all different substances.
Glutathione Amino Acid–What it does:
- Powerful antioxidant produced in the liver
- Detoxifies harmful compounds so they can be excreted in the bile
- Helps to maintain the integrity of red and white blood cells
- Needed for carbohydrate metabolism
- Anti-aging effects
- Helps to break down oxidized fats that lead to atherosclerosis
Deficiencies of Glutathione lead to: lack of coordination, mental disorders, tremors, difficulty maintaining balance, excessive aging.
Best Sources of Glutathione: Supplements are expensive. Oral supplements may not be very effective. Raw materials in the form of Cysteine, Glutamic Acid and Glycine, which all combine together to produce Glutathione, are a better choice.
Glycine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Used to build proteins
- Maintains health of prostate gland
- Retards muscle degeneration
- Utilized in the construction of DNA and RNA
- Essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids and bile acids
- Helps to build other amino acids in the body
- Repairs damaged tissue and promotes healing
- Necessary for Central Nervous System function, used for spastic activity like that of Multiple Sclerosis and progressive Muscular Dystrophy
- Used for the treatment of hypoglycemia (stimulates glucagon release)
- Used for epilepsy
- Used for manic (bipolar) depression and for hyperactivity
- Too much can cause fatigue
- Used to treat low pituitary function
Best Sources of Glycine: Fish, meat, beans, dairy and free-form amino acids.
Histidine (or Histadine) Amino Acid–What does it do?
- Used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
- May boost T-cell function (HIV, AIDS, and auto-immune help?)
- Used for growth and repair of tissues
- Important for the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that protect the nerve cells. (any shaking-type disease would benefit)
- May help with nerve deafness
- Helps with sexual arousal
- May help with indigestion due to lack of stomach acid
- Needed for the production of both red and white blood cells
- Protects the body from irradiation
- Aids in removing heavy metals from the system
Contraindictions for Histidine: Bipolar people should not take histidine as a supplement. Too much can cause psychological disorders such as anxiety, stress and schizophrenia.
Best Bet Sources of Histidine: Rice, wheat and rye.
Isoleucine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Used for hemoglobin formation
- Stabilizes and regulates blood sugar and enrgy levels
- Used to enhance energy, increase endurance and aid in healing and repair of muscle tissue
- Used for mental disorders
- Deficiency may look like hypoglycemia
Best Bet Sources of Isoleucine: Almonds, cashews, chicken chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat, rye, most seeds and soy protein. Also free-form amino acids and tablets or in combination with leucine and valine (the other two branched-chain amino acids.)
Lysine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Helps maintain proper nitrogen balance (this seems to come up ALL the time in my practice.)
- Inhibits herpes (works best when minimizing arginine intake)
- Assists building muscle mass, collagen formation and tissue repair
- Good for those recovering from surgery and sports injuries
- Helps to lower high serum triglycerides
- Helps prevent fertility problems
- Improves concentration
- Proper bone and growth development in children
- Used in the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes
- Helps with calcium absorption
Signs of Lysine deficiency: anemia, bloodshot eyes, enzyme disorders, hair loss, lack of concentration, irritability, lack of energy, poor appetite, reproductive disorders, retarded growth, weight loss. Burn patients may need to be supplemented.
Best Bet Sources of Lysine: Fish, eggs, milk, lima beans, meat, cheese, potatoes, soy products, yeast, and most proteins. Free-form amino acid and tablet forms. Note: Free form amino acid and tablet forms should not be used for children.
Methionine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Supplies sulfur to the body
- Used for the treatment of AIDS patients
- May improve memory recall in cases with nervous system degeneration
- May help Parkinson’s disease
- Used in the treatment of pancreatitis
- Used to support liver function
- Lower intakes during pregnancy associated with neural tube defects
- Taking too much may lead to heart disease but it
- May help to prevent clogging the arteries by eliminating plaque
- Assists in the breakdown of fats
- Helps detoxify lead and other heavy metals
- Helps to prevent brittle hair
- Protects against radiation
- Beneficial for those with osteoporosis
- Helps with chemical allergies, rheumatic fever, and pregnancy toxemia
- Powerful antioxidant inactivating free radicals
- Good for people with Gilbert’s syndrome (a liver disease)
- Required for synthesis of nucleic acid formation and for collagen formation
- Promotes the excretion of estrogen
- Used for schizophrenia (it decreases histamine in the body)
- May prevent some tumors
- Needed for the synthesis of Taurine and Cysteine
- Used in the production of Choline which is used by the brain and to make bile more liquidy.
Best Bet Sources of Methionine: Meat, fish, eggs, liver, dairy, garlic, lentils, onions, soybeans, seeds, and yogurt. Free-form amino acids and capsule form.
Ornithine Amino Acid–What it does:
- May promote muscle-building activity by increasing anabolic hormone activity
- Necessary for proper immune system and liver function
- Detoxifies ammonia
- Aids in liver regeneration
- Promotes healing and repair of damaged skin and connective tissue
Contraindications for Ortnithine: Ornithine supplements should not be taken by children, pregnant women, nursing mothers or anyone with a history of schizophrenia.
Best Bet Sources for Ornithine: Meat, fish, dairy, eggs and free-form amino acid or capsule form. Also available as as Ornithine Alph-Ketoglutarate (OKG) which is Ornithine combined with Glutamine. Depletion may occur during pregnancy.
Phenylalanine and D,L-Phenylanlanine (DLPA) Amino Acids–What it does:
- Used for depression (phenylalanine is converted to Tyrosine, which in turn synthesizes dopamine and norepinephrine
- Used for alcohol withdrawal support
- Used for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- Used for vitiligo
- Potential mood elevator
- May help control addictive behavior
- Promotes sexual arousal
- Reduces hunger and cravings for food
- DLPA may influence the brain and its way of dealing with pain relief by stimulating endorphins. It’s painkilling response increases over time.
- Used for menstrual cramps, migraines, and other pain
- May be helpful with Parkinson’s
- Used for migraine pain, neuralgia and leg cramps
Contraindications for Phenylalanine: Pregnant women and those who suffer from phenylketonuria (PKU).
Best Bet Sources of Phenylalanine and DLPA: Halvah, tahini, sesame seeds are the most common foods that people test they need for this deficiency. Proteins, cheese, almonds, peanuts, and soybeans are other foods high in this amino acid. Free-form and capsule form are the most common sources.
Serine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Needed for proper metabolism of fats and fatty acids
- Used for the growth of muscle
- Used to maintain a healthy immune system
- Aids in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies
- Used in cosmetics for it natural moisturizing capabilities
Taurine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Helps absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins
- Regulates heartbeat and helps with cardiac arrhythmias
- Maintains cell membrane stability
- Helps prevent brain cells from being overactive
- Helps with Congestive Heart Failure
- Helps with Diabetes
- Helps with High Blood Pressure
- It is a building block for other Amino Acids
- It is a key component in bile (needed for digestion of fats)
- Helps in the control of serum cholesterol
- Used for edema and hypoglycemia
- Vital for the proper utilization of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium
- Used to treat anxiety, poor brain function and seizures
- May benefit Down’s Syndrome and muscular dystrophy
- Used occasionally in breast cancer treatment
- Deficiency signs: cardiac arrhythmias, disorders of platelet formation, intestinal problems, yeast overgrowth, stress (physical and emotional), zinc deficiency, excessive consumption of alcohol.
Note: Alcoholism and diabetes both increase the need for Taurine.
Best Bet Sources of Taurine: Meat, fish, eggs, milk and free-form amino acids and capsules.
Threonine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Maintains proper protein balance in the body
- Important in the formation of collagen and elastin
- Aids live and lipotrophic function
- Helps prevent fatty buildup in the liver
- Enhances immune system by aiding in the production of antibodies
Best Sources of Threonine: Fish of any kind, beef, soy, wheat, brown rice, bread, liver, peanuts, free-form amino acids and capsules.
Tryptophan Amino Acid–What it does:
- Necessary for the production of B3 (Niacin) in the body
- Used by the brain to produce serotonin
- Responsible for normal sleep
- Helps combat depression and insomnia
- Stabilizes mood
- Helps control hyperactivity in children
- Alleviates stress
- Good for the heart
- aids in weight control by decreasing appetite
- Good for migraine headaches
- May reduce some effects of nicotine
- Deficiency may lead to coronary artery spasm
- Helps decrease sensitivity to pain
- May help fibromyalgia and migraines
Best Bet Sources of Tryptophan: Brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, soy protein
Note: This supplement is not available in supplement form in the United State because in Nov. of 1989, there was a report linking it to a blood disorder called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Subsequent research revealed that it was a contaminant in the supplement that was causing the problem, but the FDA still won’t allow it on the market. So…go get some 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan)instead.
Tyrosine Amino Acid–What it does:
- It is a precursor of several neurotransmitter including L-dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine, so acts as a mood elevator
- May be helpful in Parkinson’s disease
- May be helpful in mood disorders such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and with environmental stress
- Helps protect the skin against radiation because it is a key component of melanin
- May be helpful in people with PKU disorder
- Helpful in alcohol and cocaine or other addictive drugs in withdrawal support
- Helps suppress appetite and reduce body fat
- Helps with normal function of adrenal, thyroid and pituitary glands
- Helps with metabolism of phenylalanine
- Helpful for chronic fatigue and narcolepsy
- Helpful for anxiety, depression, allergies and headaches
- Signs of deficiency include: Hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, low body temperature (cold hands/feet), restless leg syndrome.
- May help with PMS
Contraindications for Tyrosine: Should not be taken with MAO inhibitors used in the treatment of depression.
Best Bet Sources of Tyrosine: Dairy, meats, fish, wheat, oats, almonds, avocados, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds. Also available as capsule or free-form amino acid.
Valine Amino Acid–What it does:
- Has a stimulant effect
- Needed for muscle metabolism and tissue repair
- Necessary for proper nitrogen balance in the body (this one comes up often in my practice)
- Can be used as an energy source by muscles
- Corrects severe amino acid deficiencies caused by drug addictions
- Too much may lead to feelings of skin crawling
Best Bet Sources of Valine: Dairy, grains, meat, mushrooms, peanuts and soy protein as well as free-form amino acids and capsule supplements.