Amino acids are building blocks of proteins, and many play a role in health.
- Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the body and must be present in the diet
- Non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body and are therefore not required as part of the diet
- Conditionally non-essential amino acids can be produced by the body, but at rates lower than certain conditional requirements
Some are deficient in certain amino acids due to chronic stress, psychological conditions such as ADD or depression, poor digestion/digestion problems or poor diet. Amino acids are a great way to naturally supplement for different mood or cognitive needs. The following is a list I have positive personal experience with using.
- L-theanine – an amino acid found exclusively in green tea, that promotes calm focus and relaxation. . “Animal neurochemistry studies suggest that L-theanine increases brain serotonin, dopamine, GABA levels” (Behavioural Neuroscience Laboratory, Department of Physiology, Monash University, Australia). This would suggest a more balanced brain state and increased alpha wave activity, leading to better attention and focus. There is also suggestive evidence that it has a neuroprotective factor as well. A higher dose of 600mg provides a noticeable state of calm focus
- L-tyrosine – an amino acid that plays a role in dopamine production, this amino acid may also aid in increased attention span and better adaptation to stress. It currently has some evidence as being effective for ADHD symptoms – my daughter has been taking this supplement for almost a year now, and I have seen improvements in her ability focus for longer periods of time and delay gratification. Dopamine is the “motivator” neurotransmitter, so if the body is making enough with supplementation, stress tolerance will improve as well as potential decreases in reward-seeking behaviors.
- L-magnesium threonate – a form of magnesium that easily crosses the blood brain barrier, which results in noticeable effects of decreased anxiety and improved cognition, memory and muscle function.
- N-acetyl-cysteine -This amino acid is backed by some psychiatric evidence, as it was shown to decrease symptoms related to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, as well as schizophrenia. This amino acid helps your body produce the antioxidant glutathione, which combats oxidative stress and inflammation in neural pathways, as well as acutely supporting liver and pulmonary detoxification. I notice that for myself, it assists with decreasing obsessive or ruminative thoughts.
- 5-HTP – the precursor to serotonin after the body breaks down the amino acid “l-tryptophan”, this supplement is commonly used by those who frequently use MDMA (“molly”) to combat the “serotonin crash” known to happen after prolonged serotonin elevation. This amino acid is available in time release form, making it a good option for mood support as serotonin plays a role in many functions, including: mood, energy, learning, memory and even digestion.
- L-tryptophan – an essential amino acid that plays a supportive role in mood, sleep, immunity, and many other functions. It is precursor to the serotonin neurotransmitter, so it is very helpful for depression, anxiety, PTSD and pre-menstrual syndrome. It is found in some poultry, milk, cheese, which may not always fit in to one’s dietary preferences. Supplementing is an ideal way to ensure you are getting this amino acid.