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Information About Amino Acids





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Amino Acids
- The Building Blocks


Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Put very simplistically, our genes tell our bodies which ones to put into the proteins that we make, and it is the proteins that make up the significant constituents of our bodies. Myelin Basic Protein (MBP) is an example of one such protein.

In order to understand how they are glued together to make proteins, we must look at the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that is present in almost all the cells in our bodies.

DNA is built up of many sub-units called neucleotides, each of which contains a chemical "base". There are only four different bases and thus only four different nucleotides. The four bases are adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G).

Genes are sections of DNA, in which the neucleotides are viewed in groups of three called "triplets" or "codons". Each codon "codes" for a particular amino acid. A gene is terminated by a stop code or terminator which is represented by one of three codons that do not code for amino acids.

There are 20 different amino acids that are used in animals (there are others that are used in plants). There are 64 different codons and most of the 20 amino acids are coded by more than one triplet.

The process of synthesizing amino acids from genes is known as transcription. During transcription, a gene is echoed from the DNA into a complementary form called ribonucleic acid (RNA).

From the RNA, they are produced and are joined with one another with a peptide bond. The resulting sequence of aminos is known as peptide string or polypeptide. Proteins are derived from these polypeptides.

Before taking any nutritional supplement, please consult your health care provider first.

- Facts and Information

part from water, the next most abundant substance in the body is amino acids.

Building Blocks of Protein

Life without protein is not possible, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. To help you enjoy the best of life and health, you need to have a balance of amino acids. They function in areas that are too numerous for us to mention in depth, but are required to build and maintain all body tissues, constitute an important part of enzymes, hormones and body fluids, and are also responsible for regulating body functions such as growth and digestion. The central nervous system cannot function properly without amino acids, which are necessary for the brain to both send and receive information. Amino acids help form antibodies to fight infection, and serve in a myriad of other life-giving areas that are absolutely essential in your quest for optimal health.

Protein is available in both animal and plant sources. This protein (plant or animal) is broken down during the digestive process into amino acids.

Essential Amino Acids

The body requires approximately twenty-two amino acids, and can acquire many of these amino acids from your daily food intake – to the point that it is possible when our food, plant sources are all being grown in vitamin and mineral-depleted soil. Eight (for adults) or nine (for children) amino acids cannot be synthesized and are, therefore, essential to be taken in through nutrition (diet or supplement).

Non-essential Amino Acids

The remaining amino acids can be synthesized from nitrogen, carbohydrates and fats. Each of the amino acids has its own specific purpose and one can not be substituted for another.

Do not be confused by the titles of non-essential and essential amino acids. The truth is that you need all the amino acids for overall superior mental and physical health.

D or L Forms of Amino Acids

All compounds in nature come in two forms, the L and the D form. These two configurations are mirror images of each other biochemically. The L form is typically the more active form in most amino acids, while only phenylalanine is available in three active forms: L, D, and D/L.  The D/L form is a 50/50 mix of the two. DPA (d-phenylalanine) is used as an active ingredient particularly for pain management. It works to inhibit the enzymes that break down the "opioids" in the brain; therefore, the opioid activity increases and the person has a greater sense of internal calm with reduced pain.

Amino Acids as Precursors for Neurotransmitters

Amino acids are precursors to dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and many other substances critical to health and well-being. Besides building cells and repairing tissue, the following is true:

  • Amino acids form antibodies to combat invading bacteria and viruses
  • Amino acids are part of the enzyme and hormonal system
  • Amino acids carry oxygen throughout the body and participate in muscle activity
  • They are found to be extremely useful in weight control, depression fighting, muscle building, proper hormonal activity
  • They are also found to be useful in proper function of the immune system
  • Amino acids are necessary for growth and cellular replication throughout the body


Safety of Amino Acids

Amino acids are safe, non-toxic, non-addictive, and the body does not build a tolerance to them. However, those with sensitivities should use the same caution they require when starting any new product, including amino acids. It is always wise to consult your health care physician if you have any questions regarding your health and any medications or nutritional supplements you may be taking.


While vitamins, minerals and amino acids are considered safe under most conditions, there are always situations when caution should be taken. NeuroGenesis shares the concern of many and will always try to stay informed on studies that present a legitimate health concern. Here, we have listed the precautions we feel may warrant your attention.

MAOI's (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are a type of antidepressant medication (Marplan, Parnate and Nardil) that can cause serious hypertensive crisis if taken with over-the-counter ingredients, other drugs [prescription or otherwise] or amino acids. Persons taking this particular type of medication must also be very careful with what they eat. If you have any doubt, call your doctor or pharmacist for clarification. Persons taking an MAOI should not use any product without consulting their physician.

All medications classified as antipsychotics are dopamine (and sometimes serotonin) antagonists. This means that they inhibit or block the building of these neurotransmitters. Amino acids such as l-phenylalanine, tryptophan and 5-HTP work to build or replenish these same neurotransmitters. Do not take an antipsychotic with any product containing one of these particular amino acids.

Phenylketonuria (PKU) is a rare, inherited metabolic disease caused by a defect that prevents the conversion of the essential amino acid, phenylalanine, into a useful form. People with PKU are very aware of it and have severe diet restrictions. Those with PKU should not take any product containing phenylalanine.

Because of the small risk of carrying a baby with PKU, pregnant women should not take amino acid supplements (or any over-the-counter supplement) without their physicians consent.

Women who are nursing a baby should always consult their pediatrician before taking any supplement or medication that can pass through the blood brain barrier and effect the baby's continuing development.

Although phenylalanine is a natural build for dopamine, and those with Parkinson's disease are thought to be functionally deplete of dopamine, always consult your physician before taking anything your doctor has not approved. Most doctors prescribe l-dopa, which is another dopamine building "amino" -- he or she is keeping a close watch on these levels and need to be informed if you make additions or changes to their prescribed medication routine.

Although l-phenylalanine is not known to cause hypertension (high blood pressure), it can sometimes exacerbate an already existing problem. Those who are sensitive to norepinephrine (aka adrenaline) should not take l-phenylalanine.

Some recent studies have shown that people who have pre-existing pigmented melanoma should not take phenylalanine or tyrosine because they may increase the ability of the melanoma cells to spread.

People who have experienced actual panic attacks should not take any product that will significantly increase norepinephrine (aka adrenalin). Some can become too excited or agitated because of the increased energy and drive it produces. The essential amino acid, l-phenylalanine, produces the natural protein chemicals that build norepinephrine.

Those who are receiving medical treatment for any disease or disorder should consult their treating physician before changing their intake of any over the counter product.

Amino Acid Precursor to Dopamine and Norepinephrine

Phenylalanine and tyrosine are precursors to the body's three "fight or flight" neurotransmitters, dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine.

Phenylalanine---converts to--->Tyrosine---converts to--->DOPA---converts to--->Dopamine


Amino Acid (Building block)



Genetics or Natural Depletion

External/Chemical Source of Depletion

Present in Foods



Reduced pleasure, reduced ability to feel attachment and love, lack of remorse about actions

Schizophrenia like symptoms, voices “in your head”

Depleted by trauma.  If mother and/or father had diminished dopamine this level can be passed on via genetics.

Depleted by all stimulant drugs, Rx or otherwise.  If stimulants, including nicotine and caffeine, used during pregnancy this can lower available dopamine in fetus.

Phenylalanine can be found in lean beef, shellfish, fowl, soy products

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.

Phenylalanine Deficiency

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)

Before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, please consult your health care provider first.

Amino Acid Precursor to GABA

Glutamine is a precursor to GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid).
Glutamine---converts to--->GABA


Amino Acid (Building block)



Genetics or Natural Depletion

External/Chemical Source of Depletion

Present in Foods



Anxious, Racing thoughts, panic

Excessive sedation

Depleted by trauma.  Reduced levels in parents can result in DNA/RNA reduction of GABA in child.

Glutamine can be depleted by sedative drugs, including tranquilizers and alcohol

Glutamine can be found in lean beef & pork, Sesame seeds, Fowl, Sunflower seeds

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; 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.

- 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a precursor to serotonin. And serotonin can further convert to melatonin.
5-HTP---converts to--->Serotonin---converts to--->Melatonin


Amino Acid (Building block)



Genetics or Natural Depletion

External/Chemical Source of Depletion

Present in Foods



Edgy, irritable, tearful, irrational emotions

Can result in “serotonin syndrome” if multiple SSRI’s used together

Females more susceptible to reduced availability during menstrual periods.  Prolonged lack of direct sunlight reduces serotonin

Drugs which prolong action of serotonin may result in excessive breakdown of the transmitter.  All psychedelic drugs, LSD, PCP etc reduce serotonin.

Turkey, Ham, Milk, Cheese

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 Serotonin

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 Tryptophan

In 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.

Fact About 5-HTP:

  • 5-HTP is not a synthetic drug, but is extracted from a natural source, the seed of the Griffonia plant, and is therefore not vulnerable to the processing contamination that caused the tryptophan scare in 1989.
  • 5-HTP passes into the brain immediately without the difficult wait that tryptophan has, giving a more rapid absorption.
  • 5-HTP has been found to exert significant protection against free-radical formation and oxidative damage.
  • 5-HTP is estimated to be 25 times more effective for improving brain function than tryptophan.
  • 5-HTP improves sleep quality without causing daytime drowsiness.
  • 5-HTP has been shown to relieve the pain and suffering for many who suffer with migraine headaches.
  • 5-HTP regulates several vital processes in the body, including sleep, emotional stability, pain sensitivity and addictive cravings.

5-HTP is widely available, without prescription, as a nutritional supplement. 5-HTP is a safe, natural way to boost brain serotonin levels.


Amino Acid and Neurotransmitter




Amino Acid (Building block)



Genetics or Natural Depletion

External/Chemical Source of Depletion

Present in Foods

Enkephalin (Opioids)

l-phenylalanine, glycine, methionine

A deficiency of glycine can result in: A deep sense of inadequacy, incompleteness.  Reduced ability to combat physical pain

Excessive sedation, can be fatal if combined with other sedating agents.

Opioid levels passed from parents to offspring.  Trauma reduces availability

All drugs effecting opioid system will eventually reduce natural supply if used for prolonged periods.

Glycine can be found in seafood, fowl, lima beans, ham


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.


Taurine - Amino Acids


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. But before taking amino acids, including taurine, first consult your health care provider.


One of the Non-Essential Amino Acids


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.

Before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, please first consult your health care provider.


A Semi-Essential Amino Acid


The amino acid, arginine, has several roles in the body:
  • Arginine aids in liver detoxification
  • Arginine assists in the release of human growth hormones
  • Arginine assists in the maintenance of a healthy immune system
  • It increases muscle tone while decreasing fat, curbs the appetite,
    and aids in metabolizing fats for weight loss
  • It increases the production of collagen, and promotes wound healing
  • It has been shown to combat mental and physical fatigue

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.

Arginine Precautions

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.

Other Benefits

Arginine, ornithine and carnitine work together to release a growth hormone that metabolizes excess body fat.


An Anti-Aging Amino Acid


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.

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.

Before taking any nutritional supplement, including amino acids, consult your health care provider first.


Benefits and Deficiency


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 Deficiency

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.




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The information provided on the pages of this web site are intended as information only and are not a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a physician or health care provider. The ideas and information on these pages are designed to help you make informed decisions about your health. This information is provided for your nutritional and lifestyle educational purposes only, and is not meant to be relied upon as diagnostic information, recommendations or suggestions for health concerns and medical treatment. If you have a health concern, please seek advise from a physician or health care provider specialized in your area of concern. NeuroGenesis products are nutritional supplements and are covered under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), and as such are not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration

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