Phenylalanine is a natural amino acid that is not produced by the body and therefore can only be obtained through food, especially cheese and meat. This amino acid is very important for the formation of neurotransmitters, which is why it is able to improve memory, increase mental capacity and even improve mood.
In addition, it is believed that phenylalanine acts as a natural appetite suppressant and that when combined with exercise, it accelerates the mobilization of fats, which is why it can be used in some diets to reduce weight.
Although it has all these benefits, there is a congenital metabolic disease called phenylketonuria, in which people with this disease cannot metabolize this amino acid due to an alteration due to an enzymatic defect, which causes this amino acid to accumulate, being considered dangerous and toxic. for the brain. For this reason, phenylalanine should be excluded from the diet of these people, however in healthy people phenylalanine is not harmful and can be safely ingested both in food and as a supplement.
Main functions in the body
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is part of the structure of tissues and cells in the body, since together with other amino acids it is responsible for the synthesis of proteins in the body.
In addition, phenylalanine is also needed for the production of other molecules, such as tyrosine, which is another amino acid that is part of tissue structures, and catecholamines, which are hormones produced by the adrenal glands, such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. , which are hormones responsible for regulating mood and the body’s response to a stressful situation.
What is phenylalanine used for?
Phenylalanine serves to compose the cells of the human body, in addition to being an essential component of body tissues. Therefore, the consumption of phenylalanine has several health benefits, such as:
1. Alleviate chronic pain
Phenylalanine has the ability to increase the levels of endorphins in the brain, which are substances that have a natural analgesic effect, reducing pain and discomfort, even if chronic.
However, phenylalanine does not treat the cause of the pain, so it remains important to see a doctor, even if the pain is improving.
2. Fight depression
Phenylalanine acts in the production of dopamine, a hormone that when released in the body promotes the feeling of well being, pleasure, euphoria and happiness, improving mental disposition and fighting the characteristic symptoms of depression.
Some studies have shown that during a depressive crisis, amino acid levels, such as phenylalanine and tyrosine, are reduced. Therefore, its consumption during depressive episodes can be beneficial for the person, however more studies are needed to determine this benefit.
3. Help you lose weight
Consuming phenylalanine before physical activity apparently speeds up metabolism, helping to increase fat oxidation. Supplementation of 1 to 2 grams of phenylalanine per day is recommended to promote weight loss, however, this supplementation must be carried out under the supervision of a nutritionist or doctor.
In addition, phenylalanine acts in the formation of tyrosine and catecholamines, which are linked to appetite control, decreasing the feeling of hunger, in addition to improving mood, giving more energy to perform physical activities.
4. Treat Vitiligo Spots
By aiding in the production of tyrosine, phenylalanine can sometimes be used to disguise vitiligo patches. This is because tyrosine is essential for the production of melanin, the substance that gives color to the skin and is lacking in people with this disease.
Typically, treatment for vitiligo is with oral phenylalanine supplementation and exposure to UVA radiation. In addition, the application of creams with 10% L-phenylalanine also seems to increase results, hiding blemishes better.
5. Help in the treatment of various diseases
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid important for the formation of tyrosine, a substance that increases the production of several neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline and dopamine, allowing the balance of mental and psychological problems such as bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and Parkinson’s, however more studies are needed to prove this benefit.
Foods that contain phenylalanine
The main sources of phenylalanine are meat and cheese, however other foods that contain this amino acid include:
- Milk and dairy products;
- Foods with soy;
- Seeds and nuts, such as peanuts, pumpkin seeds, chia, or sunflower seeds
- All kinds of fish;
- beans and lentils;
- Rice, potatoes, white bread, wholemeal bread and manioc flour.
In addition, products with aspartame, which is used especially as a sugar substitute in many candies and sweets, are also rich in phenylalanine. Check out other foods rich in phenylalanine.
How Phenylalanine Intoxicates Phenylketonurics
Phenylalanine hydroxylase is the name of the enzyme that metabolizes phenylalanine and converts it into tyrosine and that, due to a genetic problem, phenylketonurics do not have it. When a person ingests foods rich in this amino acid, it begins to accumulate in the bloodstream and becomes toxic, interfering with the development and maturation of the nervous system and producing irreversible neurological damage, such as mental retardation and microcephaly.
Phenylalanine should not be used when the person has phenylalanine, and it is recommended that any food that contains more than 5% protein is not consumed. Therefore, it is important to read the food label before consuming it.
Always consult a doctor.
Verified by RJ985 – Brazilian natural medicine CMIO.org