ALL ABOUT L-PHENYLALANINE
L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, one of the building blocks for proteins in the body. WebMD explains that there are three kinds of phenylalanine: Natural L-Phenylalanine, synthetic D-Phenylalanine, and DL-Phenylalanine, which is a combination of the first two forms. People with low levels of L-Phenylalanine might experience problems staying alert or they may get depressed.
L-Phenylalanine helps the brain produce important chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals keep the brain functioning correctly in many ways. The neurotransmitters L-Phenylalanine affects help reduce hunger, improve memory, lessen the symptoms of ADHD and Parkinson’s disease, and ease chronic pain, according to the UMMC research. A few small studies showed promise using L-Phenylalanine to manage alcohol withdrawal and ease PMS symptoms. The strongest research shows L-Phenylalanine helps treat the skin disease Vitiligo.
Humans cannot produce L-Phenylalanine, according to WorldHealth.net. Instead, humans must get it through food or supplements. Good sources include high protein foods like eggs, beef, poultry, pork, fish, dairy and soy products. Other sources listed by WebMD include nuts and seeds, legumes, avocados, bananas, seafood, tofu, whey and whole grains.
University of Maryland Medical Center studies indicate L-Phenylalanine helps alleviate several diseases and conditions. Chronic pain improves with L-Phenylalanine because it helps keep the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, in the body longer. People with Parkinson’s disease may see fewer symptoms with L-Phenylalanine supplementation. The disease Vitiligo causes areas of skin to lose pigment and turn white. Taking L-Phenylalanine supplements or applying a topical solution of L-Phenylalanine and getting UV-A radiation helps darken or re-pigment some of the white patches.
Clinical research reported by VitaSouth shows L-Phenylalanine suppresses appetite, helps people burn fat, and maintains muscle while they follow a moderate workout program. Many weight loss supplements use it as the active ingredient because it increases metabolism. Some people with depression improve with L-Phenylalanine and other traditional treatments show improvement in mood, according to research cited by Progressivehealth.
Multiple reports, including the UMMC studies, show that low Phenylalanine levels cause confusion, reduced alertness, depression, memory problems, low energy, slow metabolism, appetite disturbances, edema, liver damage, muscle loss, skin lesions, weakness and slowed growth in children.
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Most people tolerate normal doses of L-Phenylalanine with no difficulty. A few people, according to Progressivehealth, may have some nausea, headaches or heartburn if they take too much. Children might show increased restlessness or anxiety while taking the supplements. People taking L-Phenylalanine supplements should avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame, according to UMMC. The combination of supplements with aspartame increases L-Phenylalanine in the body beyond safe limits. At doses over 5000 mg per day, phenylalanine becomes toxic and causes nerve damage.
L-Phenylalanine causes severe problems in people with the metabolic disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU). In infants, this disorder causes permanent mental retardation within three weeks if not managed through a careful diet. People with this condition must not take L-Phenylalanine. Progressivehealth and other sources emphasize those schizophrenic patients taking drugs called neuroleptics may have increases in a side effect called tardive dyskinesia if they use L-Phenylalanine supplements. Tardive dyskinesia causes sudden, involuntary and repetitive movements resembling Parkinson’s disease. Taking L-Phenylalanine with certain antidepressants, called MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) causes similar reactions, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center.
All research agrees that people with Phenylketonuria (PKU) must not take L-Phenylalanine supplements. Diabetics and people with high blood pressure or melanomas should also avoid L-Phenylalanine. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid L-Phenylalanine supplements, according to WebMD, due to a risk of birth defects.
People taking certain antipsychotic medications and MAOI antidepressants should not use L-Phenylalanine, notesprogressivehealth. L-Phenylalanine combined with these medications causes severe increases in blood pressure that lead to heart attacks or strokes. WebMD and the UMMC studies report these medications include but are not limited toDilantin, Depakote, Tegretol, Thorazine, Clozaril, Haldol, Zyprexa, Compazine, Seroquel, Risperdal, Mellaril, Navane, Nardil and Eldepryl. Check with a pharmacist before taking L-Phenylalanine supplements combined with any antidepressant or antipsychotic medication.
WebMD strongly recommends that people with Parkinson’s disease who take Sinemet (levodopa) not take L-Phenylalanine because it decreases the effectiveness of the medicine. The UMMC studies add that people taking Baclofen for muscle spasms should avoid L-Phenylalanine because of interaction concerns. Some research indicates people with sleep disorders or anxiety disorders should not take L-Phenylalanine supplements. Anyone with questions about whether L-Phenylalanine is safe for them to take should consult with their medical practitioner.