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Normal values of amino acids vary widely. Only extremely abnormal results are diagnostic without genetic corroboration. Levels are generally higher in infants and children than adults.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, hormones, nucleic acids, and pigments. They act as neurotransmitters, enzymes, and coenzymes. Diet must provide eight essential amino acids to the body. The body can make the rest. Amino acids are transported across the gut and renal tubular lining cells. Their metabolism is essential to the production of other amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. Defects in the metabolism or transport, excesses of their precursors, or deficiencies of their precursors are evident in the blood, urine, or both.
When taken up into the human body from the diet, the 22 standard amino acids either are used to synthesize proteins and other biomolecules or are oxidized to urea and carbon dioxide as a source of energy. The oxidation pathway starts with the removal of the amino group by a transaminase; the amino group is then fed into the urea cycle. The other product of transamidation is a keto acid that enters the citric acid cycle. Glucogenic amino acids can also be converted into glucose through gluconeogenesis.
If we consume protein in the diet, the protein in the gastrointestinal tract is broken down into the individual amino acids and then put back together again as new protein. This complex biological process is called protein biosynthesis. The entire amino acid pool is transformed, or ‘exchanged’ three to four times a day. This means that the body has to be supplied with more amino acids, partly by protein biosynthesis, partly by the diet or through consumption of suitable dietary supplements. The objective is that the amino acid pool is complete and maintained in the correct combination. If one or more amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, the production of protein is weakened and the metabolism may only function in a limited way.
More than 90 diseases are associated with abnormal amino acid function. Primary aminoacidopathies are typically autosomal recessive or X-linked inherited disorders resulting from a deficient enzyme or transport protein. Over 30 aminoacidopathies have been described in literature.
ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
Histidine is found abundantly in hemoglobin and is essential for the growth and repair of tissues, important for the maintenance of the myelin sheaths, needed for the production of both red and white blood cells, protects the body from radiation damage, lowers blood pressure, aids in the removal of heavy metals from the body, and aids in sexual arousal. It has been used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, ulcers, and anemia.
Isoleucine is needed for hemoglobin formation, stabilizes and regulates blood sugar and energy levels. It is valuable to athletes because it aids in the healing and repair of muscle tissue, skin, and bones. It has been found to be deficient in people suffering from certain mental and physical disorders.
Leucine works with isoleucine and valine to promote the healing of muscle tissue, skin, and bones. It is recommended for those recovering from surgery, lowers blood sugar levels, and aids in increasing growth hormone production.
Lysine ensures adequate calcium absorption and maintains a proper nitrogen balance. It helps form collagen (which makes up cartilage and connective tissue). It aids in the production of antibodies which have the ability to fight cold sores and herpes outbreaks and lowers high serum triglyceride levels.
Methionine is a powerful anti-oxidant and a good source of sulfur, which prevents disorders of the hair, skin, and nails. It assists the breakdown of fats, thus helping to prevent a buildup of fat in the liver and arteries, that might obstruct blood flow to the brain, heart, and kidneys. It helps detoxify harmful agents such as lead and other heavy metals. It helps diminish muscle weakness, prevents brittle hair, and protects against the affects of radiation. It is beneficial for women who take oral contraceptives because it promotes the excretion of estrogen. It reduces the level of histamine in the body which can cause the brain to relay wrong messages.
Phenylalanine is used by the brain to produce norepinephrine, a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells in the brain. It promotes alertness and vitality; elevates mood, decreases pain, and aids memory and learning. It is used to treat arthritis, depression, menstrual cramps, migraines, obesity, Parkinson's disease, and schizophrenia.
Threonine helps maintain proper protein balance in the body and is important for the formation of collagen, elastin, and tooth enamel. It aids liver and lipotropic function when combined with aspartic acid and methionine. It prevents the buildup of fat in the liver and assists metabolism.
Tryptophan is a precursor of the neurotransmitter serotonin. It is a natural relaxant and helps alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep. It reduces anxiety and depression and stabilizes mood and helps in the treatment of migraine headaches. It helps the immune system function properly. It aids in weight control by reducing appetite and enhances the release of growth hormones.
Valine is needed for muscle metabolism and coordination, tissue repair, and for the maintenance of proper nitrogen balance in the body. It is used as an energy source by muscle tissue.
NON-ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS
1-Methylhistidine results from the metabolism of the dipeptide anserine found in meats.
3-Methylhistidine results from the metabolism of the dipeptide anserine found in meats.
Alanine plays a major role in the transfer of nitrogen from peripheral tissue to the liver, metabolism of glucose, and guards against the buildup of toxic substances that are released into muscle cells when muscle protein is broken down quickly to meet energy needs, such as what happens with aerobic exercise. It strengthens the immune system by producing antibodies.
Alpha-Amino Adipic Acid is an intermediate in the α-aminoadipic acid pathway for the metabolism of lysine and saccharopine.
Arginine enhances the immune system; increases the size and activity of the thymus gland, which manufactures T cells. It aids in liver detoxification by neutralizing ammonia, facilitates an increase in muscle mass and a reduction of body fat, and assists the release of growth hormones. It is a major component of collagen and aids in stimulating the pancreas to release insulin.
Alpha-Amino Butyric Acid is the building block of proteins, therefore it is often referred to as amino acid aminobutyric acid, or simply aminobutyric acid. In contrast, GABA is a neurotransmitter and not used in protein synthesis, and it is almost always referred to as GABA.
Asparagine is vital to the central nervous system and it plays an important role in the synthesis of ammonia.
Aspartic Acid aids in cellular activity, cell formation, and metabolism. It protects the liver by aiding the expulsion of ammonia. It combines with other amino acids to form molecules that absorb toxins and remove them from the bloodstream and facilitates the movement of certain minerals across the intestinal lining and into the blood and cells. It aids the function of RNA and DNA, which are carriers of genetic information.
Beta Alanine is an agonist next in activity to the cognate ligand glycine itself, for strychnine-sensitive inhibitory glycine receptors (GlyRs). It is probable that the paraesthesia, a form of neuropathic pain, results from high peak blood-plasma concentrations of β-alanine.
Beta-Amino Isobutyric Acid plays a role in cell metabolism, and affects how the body burns fat and regulates insulin, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
Citrulline is converted from arginine by enzymes in a process called citrullination. Proteins that normally contain citrulline residues include myelin basic protein (MBP), filaggrin, and several histone proteins. Citrulline antibodies are a factor in rheumatoid arthritis.
Cystathionine is an intermediate in the synthesis of cystein.
Cystine helps detoxify harmful toxins, protects the body from radiation damage and promotes the burning of fat and the building of muscle. Skin and hair are made up of 10-14% cystine.
Ethanolamine is widely distributed in biological tissue and is a component of lecithin.
Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.
Glutamic Acid/ glutamate is the chief excitatory neurotransmitter for the central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. It affects the metabolism of sugars and fats, aids in the transportation of potassium into the spinal fluid, and acts as fuel for the brain.
Glutamine helps build and maintain muscle tissue; helps prevent muscle wasting that can accompany prolonged bed rest or diseases such as cancer and AIDS. It acts as a "brain fuel" that increases brain function and mental activity, assists in maintaining the proper acid/alkaline balance in the body, and promotes a healthy digestive tract.
Glycine retards muscle degeneration, improves glycogen storage, thus freeing up glucose for energy needs, and promotes a healthy prostate, central nervous system, and immune system. It aids in repairing damaged tissue and promotes healing.
Homocysteine can be synthesized from methionine and then converted back to methionine via the SAM cycle or used to create cysteine and alpha-ketobuterate. A high level of homocysteine makes a person more prone to endothelial injury, which leads to vascular inflammation, which in turn may lead to atherogenesis, which can result in ischemic injury.
Hydroxylysine is a hydroxylated derivative of lysine that is present in certain collagens.
Hydroxyproline is a major component of the protein collagen and plays a key role in collagen stability.
Ornithine prompts the release of growth hormones, which promotes the metabolism of excess body fat (this effect is enhanced if combined with arginine and carnitine). It is necessary for a healthy immune system, detoxifies ammonia and aids in liver regeneration. It stimulates insulin secretion and helps insulin work as an anabolic (muscle building) hormone.
Proline aids in the production of collagen and reduces the loss of collagen through the aging process. It helps heal cartilage and strengthens joints, tendons, and heart muscle.
Sarcosine is found in muscles and other body tissues naturally as an intermediate in the metabolism of choline to glycine.
Serine aids in metabolism of fats and fatty acids, the growth of muscle, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It is a component of the protective myelin sheaths that cover nerve fibers and is important in RNA & DNA function and cell formation. It aids in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
Taurine strengthens the heart muscle, boosts vision, and helps prevent macular degeneration. It is the key component of bile, which is needed for the digestion of fats. It is vital for the proper utilization of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
Tyrosine is a precursor of adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine, which regulate mood and stimulate metabolism and the nervous system. It aids in the production of melanin (the pigment responsible for hair and skin color) and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands.
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