Amino Acids – a Hidden Solution to Stress

Evidence has been accumulating that amino acids have a remarkable affect on the body’s ability to deal with stress and with stress related illness. Many more illnesses are connected with stress than previously thought.

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, and proteins in turn make up the largest part of our body weight second to water. “Non-essential” amino acids can be produced by the body, and “essential” amino acids must come from an outside source such as food or supplementation. Both types of amino acids have indispensable functions within the body.

The two-dozen amino acids present in the human body are among the most potent healing substances ever discovered. Essential amino acids include: Lysine, Valine, Tryptophan, Leucine, Phenylalanine and Methionine. Some non-essential amino acids include Glutamine, Proline, Glycine and Arginine.

Research has shown that Lysine (essential) helps the body to absorb calcium more efficiently. Mild calcium deficiency can cause nerve sensitivity, muscle twitching, irritability, palpitations and insomnia. Signs of severe deficiency include abnormal heartbeat, muscle pains and cramps, numbness, stiffness and tingling of the hands and feet, and depression. Many of these symptoms are associated with the feelings of stress.

Eric R. Braverman, M.D. and Andrew Weil, M.D., both researchers and authors, have described the importance of amino acids and supplementing with these vital building blocks in relation to stress and the physical and emotional consequences of such stress.

For example: Tyrosine, because of its role in assisting the body in coping physiologically with stress and building the body’s natural store of adrenaline, is sometimes called the “stress amino acid”. Tyrosine helps generate thyroxin (form of thyroid hormone) and melanin (skin pigment), and with B6 works to enhance the function of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland itself is vital to the proper functioning of metabolism.

Glutamine (GAM), glutamic acid (GA), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are three closely related amino acids that are intricately involved in sustaining proper brain function, mental activity and a smooth connection between the brain and the central nervous system. GABA balances Glutamic Acid and puts on the brakes that keep the brain in check. It blocks stress and anxiety-related messages from reaching the motor centers of the brain. Of the three, GABA has the most therapeutic applications.

Phenylalanine (essential) works with vitamin B6 and helps the body generate Tyrosine (non-essential) which helps with depression. Depression is an emotion which is often connected with stress.

Tryptophan (essential) generates niacin and seratonin which both work to help with depression as well.

Virtually all conditions of stress require more amino acids, or links of protein because stress breaks down and uses the body’s store of proteins and hence amino acids. Thus, it is important to have plenty available from both diet and nutritional supplementation.

The body is a complex machine. The physiological roots of stress disorders can be mitigated (alleviated) by the proper supplementation of not only vitamins and minerals, but the hidden factor of amino acids. Make sure your body is getting enough absorbable amino acids to deal with your personal stress-filled environment and lifestyle.