What is Phenylalanine?
Phenylalanine is an amino-acid essential for human health. It should be obtained from food proteins in sufficient amounts.
Phenylalanine is synthesized from tyrosine, a substance which is, by its biological activity similar to dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenalin. These hormones and neurotransmitters cause clarity of thinking, activation of psyche, optimistic outlook on the world…
Sources of Phenylalanine
Phenylalanine could be found in substances high in protein such as:
- Cottage cheese
- It can also be found in variety of nuts
- Bananas and
Even though it is a necessary part of healthy diet, our body doesn’t create it naturally. That’s why we should take it in with substances that are high in it. Some food products contain artificially added phenylalanine (soft drinks, chewing gums…)
The Benefits of Phenylalanine
It is not an accident that phenylalanine is the basis for the synthesis of endorphin – “hormone of happiness”. A person who has increased endorphin levels tends to feel happy and peacefully. Endorphin has also a great part in recovering from injuries and diseases since it facilitates acute and chronic pain.
Phenylalanine is also very important in body “construction” since there is almost no protein in human body that doesn’t include phenylalanine. This is especially good news for body builders because the protein that makes up muscles, ligaments and other organs contains phenylalanine. Furthermore, it is a part of fat burners.
Phenylalanine is used for skin condition called vitiligo, depressions, Parkinson’s disease, deficit-hyper activity disorder, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, alcohol withdrawal symptoms…
Phenylalanine Side Effects
As side effects are possible with any medication supplement, they occur with phenylalanine, too. When taken in through normal diet, phenylalanine doesn’t usually cause side effects for majority of people. What can cause side effects are unusually high doses. Additionally, people with some medical conditions can be more vulnerable to those side effects.
It is interesting that some phenylalanine side effects can be damaging, and others can be beneficial.
Damaging Side Effects of Phenylalanine
The population most affected with this side effect is the population of pregnant and breast-feeding women. High level of phenylalanine can increase possibilities for birth defects. Those defects include facial defects, hearth defects, defects in growth and nervous system. These side effects occur with women who have high level of phenylalanine. For them even normal amount taken from food sources is unsafe, let alone taking it as a supplement.
The same case is with breast-feeding women. Although this area is not researched enough, it is not recommended for women who are breast-feeding to take more phenylalanine than it is normally recommended.
When it comes to dangerous side effects of phenylalanine, it should be mentioned that it should be avoided with people who suffer from Phenylketonuria (PKU). Actually, the most frightening side effects occur with population that is suffering from this hereditary disorder. People who suffer from this disorder can’t produce enzyme needed to metabolize phenylalanine. It can be treated with regulated diet and close monitoring the levels of phenylalanine in blood. However, if left untreated it can cause mental retardation, seizures and brain damages, stroke, high blood pressure etc. This inherited disorder is so dangerous that babies are checked for it closely after birth, in order to see if the baby needs a regulated diet in order to avoid this disorder.
Phenylalanine can also have side effects with people who suffer from schizophrenia. It can improve Tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder caused by anti-psychotics.
Phenylalanine can also be the cause of worsening of some symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It is considered that diet low in amino-acid and protein is better for people who suffer from this disease.
Beneficial Side Effects of Phenylalanine
As it had already been mentioned there are also beneficial side effects of phenylalanine. It has a great part in constructing the human body because it builds up proteins. It also helps create chemicals that may improve our mood and appetite.
It is common belief that phenylalanine alleviates the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. It is well-known that this condition affects central nervous system and has a negative impact on motor skills. Phenylalanine is helpful with speech and walking difficulties, since it improves muscles rigidity.
Phenylalanine is also believed to be a natural pain killer. So it is used in treatments of migraines, chronic pains, back pains, toothaches.
As it had been said, there are numerous side effects of phenylalanine, including those beneficial as well as damaging ones. It can improve our well-being; help us with some conditions… However it can also worsen our health, or even the health of our newborns. That’s why we should get familiar with all of its side effects before some of them happen to us.