The amino acid, Arginine, has several roles in the body:
Arginine: The Semi-essential Amino Acid
Arginine is considered a semi-essential amino acid, because although it is normally synthesized in sufficient amounts by the body, supplementation is sometimes required. Symptoms of arginine deficiency include poor wound healing, muscle weakness, hair loss or breakage, skin rash, and constipation.The body’s ability to synthesize the nonessential amino acids such as arginine, and to utilize all amino acids, can be adversely affected by an individual’s advancing age, overall health, the presence of infection, physical trauma such as injury, effects of stress, and imbalances of other nutrients.Found in high concentrations in the connective tissues, arginine is a component of collagen that plays a vital role in the production and repair of new (or damaged) tissue and bone cells. Surgical or traumatic injury greatly increases the body’s need for L-arginine.
People with genital herpes should not take L-arginine because it may aggravate their symptoms. It also may counteract the benefits of lysine to treat herpes.While arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide, which the body uses to keep blood vessels dilated, allowing the heart to receive adequate oxygen, it should not be used following a heart attack. If you have a history of heart disease, consult your doctor before taking arginine or any nutritional supplement.
Arginine, ornithine and carnitine work together to release a growth hormone that metabolizes excess body fat.
5-Hydroxy Tryptophan is a precursor to Serotinin which can further convert to Melatonin.
What is 5-HTP?
5-hydroxy tryptophan (5-HTP) is a compound produced by the amino acid tryptophan. The body breaks down tryptophan to make 5-HTP, and then changes it into serotonin: a neurotransmitter that helps regulates mood, increases calm, provides a greater level of concentration and focus, balances sleep patterns, provides a more hopeful, optimistic outlook, increases energy levels and helps to suppress or regulate the appetite. Therefore, 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin. This means that 5-HTP is an amino acid building block that helps the body naturally product serotonin.
Serotonin is absolutely essential for your brain – and thus your body – to function properly. It is a neurotransmitter, a chemical, which carries vital signals from one cell to the next. Without adequate levels of serotonin, those signals cannot move at the proper speed or intensity. People with low levels of serotonin awaken feeling un-rested; they drag themselves through the day feeling sluggish, moody, teary, impatient, impulsive, anxious and depressed. Low serotonin levels can also promote carbohydrate cravings and overeating.Importantly, serotonin is the filtering system for all sensory input. Without the proper balance of this neurochemical, the brain misinterprets everything as a threat and sends the body into “survival mode”. Sights, sounds, smells, touch and even taste can be perceived as frightening and life threatening. With optimal levels of serotonin, the brain does not become overloaded or overwhelmed by excessive sensory input.
5-HTP and Serotinin
If you are one who is dealing with the effects of low serotonin levels, you can provide your body with the raw material it needs to produce its own serotonin — 5-HTP.5-HTP – The Alternative to TryptophanIn 1989 an outbreak of a serious medical condition was attributed to a contaminated batch of tryptophan supplements imported from Japan. The FDA immediately banned all over-the-counter sales of tryptophan (not just that imported from Japan) and made it available only with a prescription. This dramatically increased the price and made it unavailable for nutritional supplements.When tryptophan was banned in l989, many companies began extensive research to find a non-prescription alternative to tryptophan. The alternative turned out to be 5-HTP. And 5-HTP is one step closer to serotonin in the body than tryptophan is. Taking 5-HTP actually gives your body a jump-start in its efforts to maintain healthy levels of serotonin.
Benefits of 5-HTP
Even though tryptophan is again available for over-the-counter use, there have been many benefits discovered that encourage the continuing use of 5-HTP. According to many, 5-HTP is far superior to tryptophan. Here are some of the reasons taken from 5-HTP, The Natural Way to Overcome Depression, Obesity, and Insomnia by Michael T. Murray, N.D.
Facts About 5-HTP
What is Carnitine?
L-carnitine is a coenzyme, a water-soluble vitamin-like compound that is classified as an amino acid, whose supplementation could potentially be beneficial under several conditions.
One of the most relevant is that carnitine facilitates the transport of fatty acid to the mitochondria for oxidation. Because of this role, it is possible that weight loss could be improved because fatty build-up would be converted into energy (primarily for muscular activities). It is also suggested that supplemental carnitine could have a positive effect on energy levels, especially during exercise or any activity requiring high energy levels.
Carnitine is stored in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain, and sperm. Any number of reasons can cause some people to have dietary deficiencies of carnitine or an inability to properly absorb this nutrient from the foods they eat. This deficiency of carnitine may cause symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, muscle pain, weakness, low blood pressure, and/or confusion. Heart muscle tissue, because of its high-energy requirements, is particularly vulnerable to carnitine deficiency. Any such symptoms should be reported to your health care provider. Also, you should consult your health care provider before taking any nutritional supplements, including carnitine.
Benefits of Carnitine
Carnitine, along with ornithine and arginine, is a growth hormone releaser. It is used to improve mental performance. It is also used to improve resistance to muscle fatigue. Studies have also shown carnitine to be beneficial in some by lowering blood triglyceride levels.
Someone has stated that energy is the greatest anti-aging force there is. The hypothesis is that the more energy your cells have, the slower they (the cells) age. Therefore, giving your cells the fuel they need to make optimal levels of energy is a wise decision.
Glutamine: Precursor to GABA
Glutamine in an amino acid that is a major precursor for the neurotransmitter, GABA, or gamma amino butyric acid, and is especially important when the body is subjected to stressful situations. It has been stated that when there is no GABA, there is no calm and no sleep because the brain will not “turn off”.
A Conditionally Essential Amino Acid: Glutamine
Glutamine is considered a “conditionally essential amino acid” because, although it can be manufactured in the body, under extreme physical or emotional stress the demand for glutamine exceeds the body’s ability to synthesize it.
Unlike glutamic acid, glutamine crosses the blood-brain barrier easily, readily reaching the central nervous system (CNS) for use.
It is a potent energy source and is vital for high energy activities, such as exercise and projects requiring concentrated thinking and memory. Therefore, it is essential for supplying both the body and brain with energy.
Glutamine and Excess Ammonia
L-glutamine is important for removing excess ammonia (a common waste product in the body). It has been shown to enhance the immune system. Also, people who are gluten sensitive can use glutamine without the problems often associated with sensitivity to monosodium glutamate.
Glutamine and Anxiety
Glutamine is an all-natural, anti-anxiety supplement that allows the mind to relax without causing the side effects sometimes associated with tranquilizers. It “tones down” unwanted “mind chatter,” which sharpens a person’s ability to focus and concentrate with more clarity or simply relax.
Why not use GABA instead of L-Glutamine?
While l-glutamine is an all-natural product, an ingredient by the name of GABA is a synthetic product that increases calm in the neurotransmitter by the same name.
The problem with using this synthetic product is that your body responds to it like it would any other external chemical source (See Addiction); it increases the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma amino butyric acid, but does nothing to actually build or replenish it. The only way to naturally build the brain chemical GABA is through nutrition or through the use of the amino acid l-glutamine.
People who are taking the product GABA will get a temporary calm, but will eventually need to change to l-glutamine to rebuild the GABA levels naturally.
Always remember, before any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, consult your health care professional first.
What is Glycine?
Glycine is both a protein amino acid and a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.
Glycine as a Supplement
Supplemental glycine has anti-spastic activity, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. Supplemental glycine works by inhibiting the messages from the spinal cord that cause abnormal responses such as jerky, exaggerated, spastic, or uncoordinated muscular movements, especially those that are often magnified during intense anxiety or in association with some withdrawal situations.
Glycine readily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Always remember, before taking glycine or any other nutritional supplement, consult your health care professional first.
What is Ornithine?
L-ornithine is an important anti-aging amino acid that promotes growth. It is also a precursor of arginine. Arginine and ornithine are closely related. While arginine is incorporated into body proteins, ornithine is a tool used to make those proteins. The body converts arginine supplements into ornithine, and can convert ornithine into arginine if needed.
The amino acid ornithine works together with arginine and carnitine to promote natural growth hormone release from the pituitary gland. (See HGH).
Ornithine is also thought to metabolize excess body fat. It is required for a properly functioning immune system and assists in ammonia detoxification. It is a central part of the urea cycle, which allows for the disposal of excess nitrogen.
Always remember, before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, consult your health care provider first.
What is Phenylalanine?
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. It exists in two forms, a D and an L form. D-phenylalanine is the enantiomer (mirror image) of l-phenylalanine and is one of the few “d” form aminos that is pharmacologically activity. D-phenylalanine works to inhibit the enzymes that break down the “opioids” in the brain. Opioids are like endorphins and produce a sense of well-being and calm. If the enzymes that break them down are not as active due to the action of d-phenylalanine, then the opioids activity increases and the person has a greater sense of internal calm.
As a Precursor
L-phenylalanine is converted into another amino acid, l-tyrosine. L-tyrosine is converted into l-dopa before being further converted into the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.D/L phenylalanine is a mixture of 50% l-phenylalanine and 50% d-phenylalanine.
Too little phenylalanine may cause anhedonia (an inability to experience pleasure), confusion, emotional agitation, depression, decreased alertness and memory, inability to feel remorse for or recognize consequences of behavior and the lack of sympathy or connection. (See Amino Acid Facts: Precautions).
As always, before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, please consult your health care provider first.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is a sulfur containing amino acid; it also functions with glycine and GABA as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body.Taurine is found in many areas of our body, including our central nervous system, skeletal muscle, and in even greater concentration, in our heart and brain.
Taurine as a Neurotransmitter
As a powerful inhibitory neurotransmitter, one of taurine’s uses has been that of an anti-convulsant. These anti-convulsant effects come from its ability to stabilize nerve cell membranes, which prevents the erratic firing of nerve cells. Therefore, it is also used to calm excitable tissues such as the heart, skeletal muscles and central nervous system.
Antioxidant Qualities of Taurine
Research also shows taurine to have antioxidant qualities and to have a protective effect upon the human brain. It is used to help absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins and has become a common ingredient in energy drinks.
The benefits of Taurine are wide ranging and can be a productive part of a total supplement program. As always, before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, please consult your health care provider first.
What is Tyrosine?
Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid that is synthesized in the body from phenylalanine. As a precursor or building block for several important neurochemicals, tyrosine builds dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, all of which work to regulate mood. These neurotransmitters are commonly depleted in those who have used stimulant drugs for an extended period of time. (See “Neurotransmitters” for more information on the individual neurotransmitters and how neurochemical deficiencies affect the individual.)
Benefits of Tyrosine
Because tyrosine is also involved in the synthesis of enkephalins (opioids), substances that have pain-relieving effects in the body, it appears to have some added pain relief benefits. Tyrosine seems to be especially beneficial when used in conjunction with 5-HTP.Tyrosine is considered a mild antioxidant as well as having putative antidepressant effects.
Tyrosine aids in the production of melanin (pigment responsible for hair and skin color). Those with pre-existing pigmented melanoma should avoid tyrosine supplements, as it is suggested that tyrosine may increase the ability of the melanoma cells to spread. As always, before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, please first consult your health care provider.