Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is not made or synthesized by your body. You need to obtain the amino acid from food. Researchers got interested in the phenylalanine benefits in vitiligo due to its promising positive effects. The following details what is the function, types, benefits, uses, sources, side effects, interactions, and dosages.
Phenylalanine And Its Functions
Phenylalanine acts as a precursor or a chemical ingredient needed by the body to make Tyrosine and in turn, forms the hormone adrenaline. Your body turns this adrenaline into noradrenaline that promotes appetite suppression, memory, mental alertness, mood elevation.
- Acts as an essential amino acid in protein buildup. Likewise, your body needs the amino acid to build organs and everywhere that are found in your body.
- Shows a promising treatment for depression. Because the amino can alleviate mood, the amino acid is studied as a likely solution for certain mood-related conditions such as depression. (1).
- Serves as a crucial component of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, and tyrosine. The amino acid can be used to make dopamine. Deficiency or malfunction of dopamine is related to types of depression. (2, 3).
Phenylalanine On Vitiligo
Vitiligo is a skin condition characterized by the loss of skin color or patches around the body. They may happen in your face or chin. Vitiligo may occur or in genitals, eyes, around the mouth, rectal areas, navel, armpits, and groin. Vitiligo occurs in people before reaching 40 and those before reaching 20. Vitiligo constitutes no side effects or pain however it can lead to psychological and emotional distress
- Benefits vitiligo – Phenylalanine benefits vitiligo that is a skin problem that leads to blotching and color (4). Another study suggests that adding phenylalanine supplements plus UV exposure can improve the patient’s skin pigmentation (5).
Are There Any Unproven Benefits And Insufficient Evidence?
Due to insufficient evidence or clinical studies, phenylalanine is possibly ineffective for the following conditions:
Phenylalanine is possibly ineffective for:
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Previous research describes that ADHD patients have lower levels of phenylalanine.
Phenylalanine has insufficient evidence for:
- Alcoholism: Previous researches reported that a combo of L-5 hydroxytryptophan, L-glutamine, and D-phenylalanine for 40 days period can reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Depression: There’s limited research that L-phenylalanine can reduce symptoms of depression nor does the amino acid showed positive effects on the depression symptoms.
- Skin aging: Previous research described that undecylenate phenylalanine can reduce aging spots.
- Weight loss: Phenylalanine didn’t cause appetite reduction.
- Parkinson’s disease: There’s no sufficient research about the efficacy of phenylalanine on the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease nor does taking DL-phenylalanine seem to cause positive effects.
- Multiple sclerosis: Taking Cari Loder’s regiment which is composed of vitamin B12, L-phenylalanine and lofepramine didn’t improve the condition of patients.
- Other conditions: Phenylalanine efficacy on arthritis has not enough evidence.
Forms of Phenylalanine
Food sources high in phenylalanine include:
- Bakery’s yeast
- Black Seeds
- Buckwheat Groats
- Beans and Legumes
- Canned tuna
- Eggs and dairy
- Fish and seafood
- Lean pork
- Nuts and Seeds
- Oat and bran
- Protein soy powder
- Shiitake mushrooms
For vegans and vegetarians, you’ll need to get phenylalanine from vegetable sources with high amounts. The amount of need depends upon your weight and age. For instance, if you weigh 77 kg, you’ll need 2541 mg of the amino acid daily.
What Are The Side Effects And Drawbacks?
People who have phenylketonuria (a rare metabolic condition) wherein there’s a high level of the amino acid. Left untreated, the condition may lead to irreversible and severe mental problems. Taking foods rich in phenylalanine should be avoided if you have phenylketonuria. Likely. Taking phenylalanine (found in foods) by mouth is safe. Similarly, it’s safe when taken in a form of medicine. On the other hand, a type of or DL-phenylalanine may cause jitteriness, hyperactivity in kids. ADHD children patients should avoid foods with aspartame (an additive made with phenylalanine). Too much phenylalanine or over 5,000 mg can lead to nerve damage that may be toxic. It can also cause headaches, nausea, and heartburn.
1. For nursing and pregnant women
The amino acid is likely safe for women with normal levels of phenylalanine. However, risks of birth defects may occur if they take too many amounts of amino acids. For women who have more phenylalanine, they can regard the amino acid as unsafe because of the birth defect risks.
2. What are the interactions?Levodopa
Don’t take phenylalanine if you are taking levodopa – a drug used to treat Parkinson’s disease because it will only worsen your condition.
Tyramine is an organic chemical that builds up when you take phenylalanine. Too much tyramine can lead to high blood pressure although your body breaks it down thus preventing high blood pressure buildup. However, certain medications for depression or MAOIs can interact with phenylalanine and prevent the body from breaking down tyramine. Such will cause tyramine buildup and dangerously high blood pressure.
4. Antipsychotic drugs
Medications for mental problems can interact with phenylalanine and thus lead to jerky muscle movements. These medications include:
What are the recommended dosages?
People with vitiligo condition may use 50 to 100 mg of L-phenylalanine daily or 50 mg three times per week until they reach 3 monthsSkin application – 10% of phenylalanine creamChildren – 100 mg twice per week for up to 3 to 4 months.
The Bottom Line
Currently, medical professionals and researchers will need to confirm the efficacy of phenylalanine in some medical conditions where there’s no sufficient evidence about the amino acid efficacy. On the other hand, the good news is that Phenylalanine has shown positive results in treating vitiligo. If you take phenylalanine, make sure that you are not suffering from Phynelkutenoria.
1- Meyers, S. “Use of Neurotransmitter Precursors for Treatment of Depression.” Alternative Medicine Review: a Journal of Clinical Therapeutic, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2000, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10696120.
2 – Fernstrom, John D, and Madelyn H Fernstrom. “Tyrosine, Phenylalanine, and Catecholamine Synthesis and Function in the Brain.” The Journal of Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17513421.
3 – Dunlop, Boadie W. “The Role of Dopamine in the Pathophysiology of Depression.” Archives of General Psychiatry, American Medical Association, 1 Mar. 2007, jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/482227.
4 – Ezzedine, Khaled, et al. “Vitiligo.” Lancet (London, England), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 4 July 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25596811.
5-Cohen, Brandon E, et al. “Alternative Systemic Treatments for Vitiligo: A Review.” American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26329814.