Phenylalanine Benefits, Side-effects and Sources

Phenylalanine Benefits, Side-effects and Sources

What is Phenylalanine?

Phenylalanine is an amino acid that is essential for our daily functioning and it comprises into 3 different forms:

  • L-phenylalanine
  • D-phenylalanine
  • DL-phenylalanine (An artificially created mix)

Out of these, the D-type is the most peculiar if you will, because not only is its role meaningless, but it is not quite completely understood by scientists. Researchers are still needed in order to fully comprehend its role, but for now, it appears that it has no major impact on the body’s functioning.

The L type, though, is crucial in regulating a lot of important processes in the organism, but, yet again, the mechanism behind it is still unclear. Overall, the body makes use of this amino acid to create chemical messengers, but how exactly does it work beyond that, it is still unknown.

It is, however, used for both medical and nutritional purposes, including the creation of aspartame.

Phenylalanine Benefits

Even though this amino acid still belongs to the gray area, meaning that, despite some of its observed benefits, we are still uncertain of its entire range of effects, several studies that have taken place were able to pinpoint some of its potential beneficial effects:

  1. Used in treating depression, anxiety, and ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder)
  2. Potentially effective in regulating chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease
  3. Useful in treating vitiligo, a skin condition encountered in both adults and children
  4. Evidence point towards Phenylalanine being effective in regulating the withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism
  5. Possible benefits in reducing back pain, but further data are needed before drawing a conclusion

Phenylalanine Side-effects

When taking this amino acid straight from foods, it is deemed safe by both doctors and nutritionists. It is only when we intend to take it as a medicine that we need to keep a close eye on its effects, because, for the most part, when put in a pill form, there are a lot of interactions that may turn things around for you.

For instance, even when taking Phenylalanine from food there may be problems ready to spark. This is especially in the case of women with already high levels of this amino acid, which means that they need to avoid certain foods that are known to be rich in it. Also, there are certain medical conditions that will cause elevated levels of this amino acid in both men and women, regardless of age, which means that you should avoid taking it altogether if you are among the patients. One of such diseases is phenylketonuria.

Then you need to be extremely careful when combining this amino acid with certain drugs because the effects could be quite dangerous. For instance, you are not allowed, under any circumstance, to take it in combination with Levodopa, which is a medicine used in treating Parkinson’s.

Also, among other drugs that could interfere with it need to mention those used in treating depression and various mental conditions and some of these are haloripedol, risperidone, thioridazine, clozapine, thiothixene and many others.

Phenylalanine Sources

The best option is to get the needed amount of this compound straight from the food you eat. This way you will not have to worry too much about the potentially dangerous interactions. Some of the best sources are chicken meat, liver, beef, eggs and milk, spinach, lupin seeds, tofu and leafy greens. There may be small traces in other food sources too, but these are the most relevant.

Aside from this, you could always resource to taking it as a medicine, provided that you need it for medical purposes. But when you do, it is crucial to consult the health specialist in advance.

How much should you take?

When talking about the food sources, Phenylalanine is safe and it does not come with meaningful side effects, no more than what you will experience if you abuse the consumption of a certain ailment. When taking it as a medicine, you will have the label guiding you through the dosage, but having a discussion with your doctor will also help a lot in this regard.