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Dr Jeff Braverman
Dr Dana Myatt

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Amino Acids

Building Blocks of Muscle, Heart, Immune System

Amino acids are the basic units of protein. Protein, in turn, is an essential macronutrient (calorie-containing food). Seventy-five percent of the body’s solid material is comprised of protein, including the heart and muscles. Of the 21 amino acids found in substantial amounts in the body, ten are essential (the body MUST have them, the body cannot make them, and so they must be obtained from diet). Deficiencies of protein and/or amino acids can result in muscle weakness (including heart muscle weakness), tissue wasting, immune system failure, skin and vision changes, hormone and neurotransmitter alterations to name just a few.

A generalized protein deficiency is best treated with high quality protein, including whey, soy, and fish. Individual amino acid supplements are useful in a variety of conditions.

Therapeutically important amino acids include:

Acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) ALC is the acetylated ester of L-carnitine. It is more easily absorbed than l-carnitine and passes more readily into the cell where it is used for energy production. ALC plays a crucial role in maintaining youthful energy metabolism, blood flow, and brain function.

L-carnitine is an amino acid that is crucial to normal energy production and fat metabolism. It is used to treat atherosclerosis, high cholesterol and triglycerides and overweight. Carnitine helps the body convert fat into energy.

L-glutamine is an amino acid crucial to the cells of the GI tract and the immune system. Glutamine is used to build muscle (anabolic), rejuvenate and heal the GI tract, and improve immunity.

L-5-HTP (hydroxytryptophan) is an intermediate metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan. L-5-HTP stimulates increased production of serotonin, melatonin, endorphins, norepinephrine (adrenaline) and dopamine. It is used to treat depression, insomnia, anxiety, and overweight/obesity. Studies have shown it to be equally effective to Prozac and other SSRI drugs for treating depression, only much safer.

L-lysine may help prevent atherosclerosis. It is also used to effectively treat and prevent herpes outbreaks in infected individuals.

DL-phenylalanine (a mixture of “D” and “L” forms of phenylalanine) protects the body’s endorphins (“feel good hormones”) and reduces pain. Studies have shown it to be highly effective (70%) for treating chronic pain.

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