Unsaturated fatty acids, UFA, usually come in the form of liquid vegetable oils, while saturated fatty acids are usually found in solid animal fat. The body cannot manufacture the essential unsaturated fatty acid; linoleic; linolenic and arachidonic acids can only be synthesised from linoleic acid if it is sufficiently supplied to the body through diet.
UFA helps to regulate the rate of blood coagulation and performs a vital function in breaking up cholesterol deposited on arterial walls. They are essential for normal glandular activity, especially of the adrenal and the thyroid glands. They are important for respiration of the vital organs and make it easier for oxygen to be transported by the bloodstream to all cells, tissues, and organs. They also help maintain the resilience and lubrication of all cells and combine with protein and cholesterol to form living membranes that hold the body cells together.
The unsaturated fatty acids function in the body, by cooperating with vitamin D in making calcium available to the tissues, assist both in the assimilation of phosphorus, and in stimulating the conversion of carotene into vitamin A. Fatty acids are related to normal functioning of the reproductive system.
Wheat germ, seeds, natural golden vegetable oils, such as safflower, soy, corn, and cod-liver oil contain lecithin and are the best sources of the unsaturated fatty acids.
The need for linoleic acid increases in proportion to the amount of solids eaten. If the intake of saturated fats is high, a deficiency of linoleic acids can occur even though oils are included in the diet. The increased consumption of such foods as butter, cream, and saturated fat increases the need for UFA. Eating a great deal of carbohydrates also increases the need for unsaturated fatty acids.
UFA deficiency causes changes to occur in the structure and enzyme function within the nucleus of the cells, resulting in a number of disorders. A deficiency may be responsible for brittle and lustreless hair, nail problems, dandruff, and allergic conditions. In addition, diarrhoea, varicose veins, underweight, and gallstones may be a result of UFA deficiency. Skin disorders such as eczema, acne, and dry skin have been linked with UFA deficiency.
Unsaturated fatty acids have been used to treat external ulcers, especially leg ulcers, with good results. The unsaturated fat preparation causes rapid granulation and regeneration of the skin. It is also essential for the prevention and treatment of bronchial asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Supplementation may be helpful for the following diseases Acne, Alcoholism, Allergies, Arthritis, Asthma, Bronchitis, Colitis, Common cold, Constipation, Coronary thrombosis, Dermatitis, Diabetes, Diarrhoea, Eczema, High Cholesterol levels, Leg cramp, Mental illness, Multiple sclerosis, Méniêres syndrome, Overweight and obesity, Prostatitis, Psoriasis, Retarded growth, Ulcers, Wounds and Pregnancy.
Amino adds are the building blocks that make up proteins.
Amino acids contain about 16 percent nitrogen and this is what distinguishes them from the other two basic nutrients, sugars and fatty adds, which do not contain nitrogen. The structure for all living things, every living organism, from the largest animal to the tiniest microbe, is composed of protein. And in its various forms, protein participates in the vital chemical processes that sustain life.
Proteins are a necessary part of every living cell in the body. Protein substances make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails, hair, and many vital body fluids, and are essential for the growth of bones.
The enzymes and hormones that catalyse and regulate all bodily processes are proteins. Proteins help to regulate the body’s water balance and maintain the proper internal pH. They assist in the exchange of nutrients between the intercellular fluids and the tissues, blood, and lymph. A deficiency of protein can upset the body’s fluid balance, causing oedema. Proteins form the structural basis of chromosomes, through which genetic information is passed from parent to offspring. The genetic “code” contained in each cell’s DNA is actually information for how to make that cell’s proteins.
Proteins are chains of amino acids linked together by what are called peptide bonds. Each individual type of protein is composed of a specific group of amino acids in a specific chemical arrangement. It is the particular amino acids present and the way in which they are linked together in sequence that gives the proteins that make up the various tissues their unique functions and characters. Each protein in the body is tailored for a specific need; proteins are not interchangeable.
Dietary protein is broken down into its constituent amino acids, which the body then uses to build the specific proteins it needs. The body breaks down substances and makes them up into other substances.
Amino acids also enable vitamins and minerals to perform their jobs properly. Even if vitamins and minerals are absorbed and assimilated by the body, they cannot be effective unless the necessary amino acids are present. For example, low levels of the amino acid tyrosine may lead to iron deficiency. Many elderly people suffer from depression or neurological problems that may be associated with deficiencies of the amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and histidine.
There are approximately twenty-eight commonly known amino acids that are combined in various ways to create the hundreds of different types of proteins present in all living things. The liver produces about 80 percent of the amino acids that the human body needs. The remaining 20 percent must be obtained from the diet.
Should the body become depleted of its reserves of any of the essential amino acids, it would not be able to produce the proteins that require those amino acids. If even one essential amino acid is missing, the body cannot continue proper protein synthesis. This can lead to a lack of vital proteins in the body, which can cause problems ranging from indigestion to depression to stunted growth. If the diet is not properly balanced – that is, if it fails to supply adequate amounts of the essential amino acids – sooner or later it will become apparent as some type of physical disorder.
It is possible to take supplements containing amino acids, both essential and nonessential. For certain disorders, taking supplements of specific amino acids can be very beneficial. When you take a specific amino acid or amino acid combination, it supports the metabolic pathway involved in your particular illness. Vegetarians, especially vegans, would be wise to take a formula containing all of the essential amino acids to ensure that their protein requirements are met.
Alanine aids in the metabolism of glucose, a simple carbohydrate that the body uses for energy. Epstein-Barr virus and chronic fatigue have been associated with excessive alanine levels and low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine. One form of alanine, beta-alanine, is a constituent of vitamin B5 and coenzyme A, a vital catalyst in the body.
Arginine retards the growth of tumours and cancer by enhancing immune function. It increases the size and activity of the thymus gland, which manufactures T lymphocytes. Arginine may therefore benefit those suffering autoimmune diseases. It is also good for liver disorders such as cirrhosis of the liver and fatty liver; it aids in liver detoxification by neutralizing ammonia. Arginine is found in high concentrations in the skin and connective tissues, making it helpful for healing and repair of damaged tissue.
Arginine is important for muscle metabolism. It helps to maintain a proper nitrogen balance by acting as a vehicle for transportation and storage, and aiding in the excretion, of excess nitrogen. Arginine is also involved in a variety of enzymes and hormones. Arginine stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, and is a component of the pituitary hormone that assists in the release of growth hormones. A variety of functions, including insulin production, glucose tolerance, and liver lipid metabolism, are impaired when the body is deficient in arginine.
This amino acid can be produced in the body; however, in newborn infants, production may not occur quickly enough to keep up with requirements.
Foods high in arginine include carob, chocolate, coconut, dairy products, gelatine, meat, oats, peanuts, soybeans, walnuts, white flour, wheat, and wheat germ.
Asparagine is needed to maintain balance in the central nervous system; it prevents you from being either overly nervous or overly calm. It promotes the process by which one amino acid is transformed into another in the liver. Asparagine is found mostly in meat.
Because aspartic acid increases stamina, it is good for fatigue and plays a vital role in metabolism. Chronic fatigue may result from low levels of aspartic acid because this leads to lowered cellular energy. It is beneficial for neural and brain disorders, and helps to protect the liver by aiding in the removal of excess ammonia. Aspartic acid combines with other amino acids to form the molecules that absorb toxins and remove them from the bloodstream. It aids cell function and the function of RNA and DNA. It enhances the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
Carnitine is not an amino acid but a member of the B group of vitamins, though its structure is similar to amino acids. Carnitine is not used for protein synthesis or as a neurotransmitter – its main function in the body is to help transport long-chain fatty adds which are burned within the cells to provide energy. This is a major source of energy for the muscles. Carnitine increases the use of fat as an energy source, which prevents fatty build-up, especially in the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles.
Carnitine reduces the health risks posed by poor fat metabolism associated with diabetes; inhibits alcohol-induced fatty liver; and lessens the risk of heart disorders. A Carnitine deficiency may be a contributor to certain types of muscular dystrophy – it has been shown that these disorders lead to losses of carnitine in the urine. People with such conditions need greater than normal amounts of carnitine. Carnitine also enhances the effectiveness of the antioxidant vitamins E and C.
Carnitine can be synthesised by the body if sufficient amounts of iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, and vitamin C and also the amino acids lysine and methionine are available.
Citrulline promotes energy, stimulates the immune system, is metabolised to form L-arginine, and detoxifies ammonia, which damages living cells. Citrulline is found primarily in the liver.
Cysteine and Cystine
These two amino acids are closely related; each molecule of cystine consists of two molecules of cysteine joined together. Cysteine is very unstable and is easily converted to L-cystine; however, each form is capable of converting into the other as needed. Both are sulphur-containing amino acids that aid in the formation of skin and are important in detoxification.
Cysteine is present in alpha-keratin, the chief protein constituent of the fingernails, toenails, skin, and hair. Cysteine aids in the production of collagen and promotes the proper elasticity and texture of the skin. It is also found in a variety of other proteins in the body, including several of the digestive enzymes.
Cysteine helps to detoxify harmful toxins and protects the body from radiation damage. Cysteine is also precursor to glutathione, a substance that detoxifies the liver by binding with potentially harmful substances there. It helps to protect the liver and brain from damage due to alcohol, drugs, and toxic compounds in cigarette smoke.
Since cysteine is more soluble than cystine, it is used more readily in the body and is usually best for treating most illnesses. This amino acid is formed from L-methionine in the body. Supplementation with L-cysteine is recommended in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, hardening of the arteries, and cancer.
People who have diabetes should be cautious about taking supplemental cysteine because it is capable of inactivating insulin.
Dimethylglycine – DMG
Dimethylglycine is a derivative of glycine, the simplest of the amino acids. It acts as a building block for many important substances, including the amino acid methionine, choline, a number of important hormones and neurotransmitters, and DNA.
DMG has been found to enhance the immune system and to reduce elevated blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. It improves oxygen utilisation by the body, helps to normalize blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and improves the functioning of many important organs. It may also be useful for controlling epileptic seizures. No deficiency symptoms are associated with a lack of DMG in the diet but taking supplemental DMG can have a wide range of beneficial effects, including helping the body maintain high energy levels and boosting mental acuity.
Ganima-aminobutyric acid GABA is an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. It is essential for brain metabolism and assists the brain to function correctly. GABA is formed in the body from another amino acid, glutamic acid. Its function is to decrease neuron activity and inhibit nerve cells from overfiring.
GABA can be taken to calm the body in much the same way as diazepam, a well-known tranquilliser. GABA has been used in the treatment of epilepsy and hypertension. It is good for a depressed sex drive because of its ability as a relaxant. It is also useful for enlarged prostate, probably because it plays a role in the mechanism regulating the release of sex hormones. GABA is effective in treating attention deficit disorder.
This amino acid is important in the metabolism of sugars and fats, and aids in the transportation of potassium across the blood-brain barrier. Although it does not pass the blood-brain barrier as readily as glutamine does, it is found at high levels in the blood and may infiltrate the brain in small amounts.
Glutamic acid can detoxify ammonia by picking up nitrogen atoms, in the process creating another amino acid, glutamine. The conversion of glutamic acid into glutamine is the only means by which ammonia in the brain can be detoxified. Glutamic acid is an excitatory neurotransmitter that increases the firing of neurons in the central nervous system. It is a major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and spinal cord and is the precursor of GABA.
Glutamic add helps to correct personality disorders and is useful in treating childhood behavioural disorders. It is used in the treatment of epilepsy, mental retardation, muscular dystrophy, ulcers, and hypoglycaemic coma, – a complication of insulin treatment for diabetes.
Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid found in the muscles of the body and is readily available when needed for the synthesis of skeletal muscle proteins. Because this amino acid helps to build and maintain muscle, supplemental glutamine is useful for dieters and bodybuilders. More importantly, it helps to prevent the kind of muscle wasting that can accompany prolonged bed rest or diseases such as cancer. This is because stress and injury including surgical trauma cause the muscles to release glutamine into the bloodstream. In fact, during times of stress, as much as one third of the glutamine present in the muscles may be released. As a result, stress and/or illness can lead to the loss of skeletal muscle. If enough glutamine is available, however, this can be prevented.
Supplemental L-glutamine can be helpful in the treatment of arthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibrosis, Intestinal disorders, peptic ulcers, and connective tissue diseases.
Glutamine should not be taken by persons with cirrhosis of the liver, kidney problems, Reye’s syndrome, or any type of disorder that can result in an accumulation of ammonia in the blood.
Like carnitine, glutathione is not one of the amino acids but because of its close relationship to these amino acids, it is usually considered together with them. The largest stores of glutathione are found in the liver, where it detoxifies harmful compounds so that they can be excreted through the bile. Some glutathione is released from the liver directly into the bloodstream, where it helps to maintain the integrity of red blood cells and protect white blood cells.
Glutathione is also found in the lungs and the intestinal tract. It is needed for carbohydrate metabolism, it also appears to exert anti-ageing effects, aiding in the breakdown of oxidised fats that may contribute to atherosclerosis.
A deficiency of glutathione first affects the nervous system, causing such symptoms as lack of coordination, mental disorders, tremors, and difficulty maintaining balance. These problems are believed to be due to the development of lesions in the brain.
Glycine retards muscle degeneration by supplying additional creatine, a compound that is present in muscle tissue and is utilised in the construction of DNA and RNA. Glycine is essential for the synthesis of nucleic acids, bile acids, and other nonessential amino acids in the body and it is used in many gastric antacid agents. Because high concentrations of glycine are found in the skin and connective tissues, it is useful for repairing damaged tissues and promoting healing. Glycine is necessary for central nervous system function and a healthy prostate. It has been used in the treatment of manic depression, and can also be effective for hyperactivity. It may also help prevent epileptic seizures.
Histidine is an essential amino acid that is significant in the growth and repair of tissues. It is important for the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells and is needed for the production of both red and white blood cells.
Histidine levels that are too high may lead to stress and even psychological disorders such as anxiety and schizophrenia; people with schizophrenia have been found to have high levels of histidine in their bodies. Inadequate levels of histidine may contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and be associated with nerve deafness. Methionine has the ability to lower histidine levels.
Histamine, an important immune system chemical, is derived from histidine.
Isoleucine, one of the essential amino adds, is needed for haemoglobin formation and also stabilises and regulates blood sugar and energy levels. It is metabolised in muscle tissue and is one of the three branched-chain amino acids. These amino acids are valuable for athletes because they enhance energy, increase endurance, and aid in the healing and repair of muscle tissue.
Isoleucine has been found to be deficient in people suffering from many different mental and physical disorders. A deficiency of isoleucine can lead to symptoms similar to those of hypoglycaemia.
Food sources of isoleucine include almonds, cashews, chicken, chickpeas, eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat, rye, most seeds, and soy protein.
Leucine is an essential amino add and one of the branched-chain amino acids that work together to protect muscle and act as fuel. Together they assist in the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue, and are recommended for those recovering from surgery. Leucine also lowers elevated blood sugar levels, and aids in increasing growth hormone production.
Natural sources of leucine include brown rice, beans, meat, nuts, soy flour, and whole wheat.
This amino add aids in the production of antibodies, hormones, and enzymes, and helps in collagen formation and tissue repair. Because it helps to build muscle protein it is good for those recovering from surgery and sports injuries. It also lowers high serum triglyceride levels. Lysine is an essential amino acid that is a necessary building block for all protein. It is needed for proper growth and bone development in children; it helps calcium absorption and maintains a proper nitrogen balance in adults.
Lysine is an essential amino acid, and so cannot be manufactured in the body. It is therefore vital that adequate amounts be included in the diet. Deficiencies can result in anaemia, bloodshot eyes, enzyme disorders, hair loss, an inability to concentrate, irritability, lack of energy, poor appetite, reproductive disorders, retarded growth, and weight loss. Food sources of lysine include cheese, eggs, fish, lima beans, milk, potatoes, red meat, soy products, and yeast.
Methionine is an essential amino acid that assists in the breakdown of fats, thus helping to prevent a build-up of fat in the liver and arteries that might otherwise obstruct blood flow to the brain, heart, and kidneys. The synthesis of the amino acids cysteine and taurine may depend on the availability of methionine. This amino acid helps to detoxify harmful agents such as lead and other heavy metals, helps to diminish muscle weakness, prevents brittle hair, protects against radiation and is beneficial for people with osteoporosis or chemical allergies. It is useful also in the treatment of rheumatic fever and toxaemia of pregnancy.
Methionine is a good source of sulphur, which inactivates free radicals. It is also good for people with Gilbert’s syndrome and is required for the synthesis of nucleic acids, collagen, and proteins found in every cell of the body. It reduces the level of histamine in the body, which can be useful for people with schizophrenia, whose histamine levels are typically higher than normal.
An essential amino add, methionine is not synthesised in the body, and so must be obtained from food sources or from dietary supplements. Good food sources of methionine include beans, eggs, fish, garlic, lentils, meat, onions, soybeans, seeds, and yoghurt. The body uses methionine to derive a brain food called choline.
This amino add also detoxifies ammonia and aids in liver regeneration. High concentrations of ornithine are found in the skin and connective tissue, making it useful for encouraging healing and repairing damaged tissues. Ornithine helps to prompt the release of growth hormone, which promotes the metabolism of excess body fat. This effect is enhanced if ornithine is combined with arginine and carnitine. Ornithine is necessary for proper immune system and liver function.
Phenylalanine is available in three different forms, designated L-, D-, and DL-.
The L- form is the most common type, and is the form in which phenylalanine is incorporated into the body’s proteins.
The D- type acts as a painkiller.
The DL- form is a combination of the D- and the L-. Like the D- form, it is effective for controlling pain, especially the pain of arthritis; like the L- form, it functions as a building block for proteins, increases mental alertness, suppresses the appetite, and helps people with Parkinson’s disease.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. Once in the body, it can be converted into another amino add, tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesise two key neurotransmitters that promote alertness: dopamine and norepinephrine. Because of its relationship to the action of the central nervous system, this amino acid can elevate mood, decrease pain, aid in memory and learning, and suppress the appetite.
Proline improves skin texture by aiding in the production of collagen and reducing the loss of collagen through the ageing process. It also helps in the healing of cartilage and the strengthening of joints, tendons, and heart muscle. It works with vitamin C to promote healthy connective tissue. Proline is obtained primarily from meat sources.
Serine is needed for the proper metabolism of fats and fatty adds, the growth of muscle, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system. It aids in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies. Serine can be synthesised from glycine in the body.
Taurine is a building block of all the other amino acids as well as a key component of bile, which is needed for the digestion of fats, the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and the control of serum cholesterol levels. High concentrations of taurine are found in the heart muscle, white blood cells, skeletal muscle, and the central nervous system. Taurine can be useful for people with atherosclerosis, oedema, heart disorders, hypertension, or hypoglycaemia. It is vital for the proper utilisation of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and has been shown to play a particular role in sparing the loss of potassium from the heart muscle.
Taurine has a protective effect on the brain, particularly when the brain is dehydrated.
Taurine is associated with zinc in maintaining eye function; a deficiency of both may impair vision. Excessive losses of taurine through the urine can be caused by many metabolic disorders. Excessive alcohol consumption also causes the body to lose its ability to utilise taurine properly. Diabetes increases the body’s requirements for taurine; conversely, supplementation with taurine and cystine may decrease the need for insulin.
Taurine is found in eggs, fish, meat, and milk, but not in vegetable proteins. It can be synthesised from cysteine in the liver and from methionine elsewhere in the body.
Threonine is an essential amino acid that helps to maintain the proper protein balance in the body. It is important for the formation of collagen and elastin, and aids liver and lipotropic function when combined with aspartic acid and methionine. Threonine is present in the heart, central nervous system, and skeletal muscle, and helps to prevent fatty build-up in the liver. It enhances the immune system by aiding in the production of antibodies.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is necessary for the production of vitamin B3. This amino acid is used to help combat depression and insomnia and to stabilise moods, it can also be used to help to control hyperactivity in children, it alleviates stress, is good for the heart, aids in weight control by reducing appetite, and enhances the release of growth hormone. It is good for migraine headaches, and may reduce some of the effects of nicotine. A lack of tryptophan and magnesium may contribute to coronary artery spasms.
The best dietary sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts, and soy protein.
Tyrosine is a precursor of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which regulate mood. A lack of adequate amounts of tyrosine leads to a deficiency of norepinephrine in the brain, which in turn can result in depression. It suppresses the appetite and helps to reduce body fat. It aids in the production of melanin and in the functions of the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary glands.
Tyrosine attaches to iodine atoms to form active thyroid hormones. Not surprisingly, therefore, low plasma levels of tyrosine have been associated with hypothyroidism. Symptoms of tyrosine deficiency can also include low blood pressure, low body temperature (such as cold hands and feet), and restless leg syndrome.
Supplemental L-tyrosine has been used for stress reduction, and research suggests it may be helpful against chronic fatigue and narcolepsy. It has been used to help individuals suffering from anxiety, depression, allergies, and headaches, as well as persons undergoing withdrawal from drugs. It may also help people with Parkinson’s disease.
Natural sources of tyrosine include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. Tyrosine can be also be produced from phenylalanine in the body.
Persons taking monoamine oxidase MAO inhibitors, commonly prescribed for depression, must strictly limit their intake of foods containing tyrosine and should not take any supplements containing L-tyrosine, as it may lead to a sudden and dangerous rise in blood pressure. Anyone who takes prescription medication for depression should discuss necessary dietary restrictions with his or her physician.
Valine, an essential amino acid, has a stimulant effect it is needed for muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and the maintenance of a proper nitrogen balance in the body. Valine is found in high concentrations in muscle tissue. It is one of the branched-chain amino acids, which means that it can be used as an energy source by muscle tissue and is good for correcting the type of severe amino acid deficiencies that can be caused by drug addiction.
Dietary sources of valine include dairy products, grains, meat, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy protein.