Phenylalanine: what it is and what it is used for

Phenylalanine, an amino acid that probably doesn't sound very familiar to us but that we often encounter during our meals and snacks. Let's see if it is good or bad, what contraindications it has and, first of all, where this substance is "hidden". Do you have any idea? Let's go find out.

Phenylalanine: what it is

There phenylalanine is an essential amino acid for our body, this "essential" wants to suggest to us the fact that we are not able to synthesize it autonomously, so to satisfy our metabolic needs we must necessarily take it with a good nutrition that includes the "right" foods, we will see which ones. We can already reveal that this amino acid is often found in proteins that should be well present in our diet, every day, beyond the regime we have chosen to follow.

Phenylalanine: is it bad?

There are cases in which it is better not to overdo it but it certainly cannot be said that in general phenylalanine is bad. In truth it can be said that it is essential to our body because it is needed for synthesis of the hormone tyrosine, L-DOPA neurotransmitters, epinephrine and norepinephrine and finally of melanin. It is definitely involved in processes that are important for our health and for the quality of our sleep.

One of the diseases related to this amino acid is the phenylketonuria, it is a rare hereditary disease which consists in the inability to metabolize the phenylalanine. Among the symptoms there are several that affect skin health and that of our neurological system. This disease can have serious consequences if not treated in time, it can even lead to severe cases mental and motor retardation but if we remedy it in time, we can ensure that the damage remains limited. The best is to diagnose the disease at birth.

Since phenylalanine is found inaspartame, consisting of a molecule of our amino acid and one of aspartic acid, we can already advise those who know they suffer from phenylketonuria to avoid foods sweetened with aspartame. Unfortunately there are several around, because it is fashionable to avoid sugar and prefer a sweetener, the danger mainly concerns snacks and drinks, so better to prefer recipes of do it yourself snacks and natural, free of aspartame and chemical sweeteners.

Phenylalanine supplement

We understand that the phenylalanine it is not harmful except in some cases, indeed it is needed and there are those who use supplements to make sure they are getting the right amount. Usually these supplements they are recommended to treat some forms of skin depigmentation, such as vitiligo, but sometimes also to lose weight because they give a sense of satiety.

Phenylalanine and depression

There are also cases where these supplements they are used to treat depression. What does depression have to do with an amino acid found in proteins? It centers because among the properties of our phenylalanine there is also that of favoring the synthesis of epinephrine and norepinephrine, indispensable for normal nervous functions.

Those who want to take phenylalanine as a supplement can buy packs in pharmacy and parapharmacy, you do not need a prescription but it is always good to consult your doctor to see if this is right for us before using it. Among side effects of phenylalanine there is also migraine, one of the most common, but in general it is a substance well tolerated at the normally recommended doses.

Phenylalanine: foods

We have already collected many clues and now we can reveal in clear words where she is at the table. It is found in protein-rich foods: meat, fish, eggs, legumes, almonds, nuts and whole grains.

Phenylalanine: contraindications

It doesn't hurt if taken in the correct doses, but there are categories of people who should stay away from it. For example, those suffering from schizophrenia and are taking antidepressant drugs of the class of monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or antihypertensive drugs. Here is already a reason not to take phenylalanine via supplements without consulting a doctor first.

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