Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that carries out many important functions in the human body. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid in humans, meaning that the body cannot synthesize its own phenylalanine.
There are two types of phenylalanine: L-form and D-form. These different forms have different roles in the body. The L-form becomes incorporated into proteins, whereas the D-form acts as a pain reliever.
Sources of Phenylalanine
Phenylalanine is a component of many natural proteins, high protein foods are good sources of this essential amino acid. Some of the sources include –
- animal products, such as: meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, gelatin
- grains, such as: wheat, oats, quinoa, barley, rye, lentils, nuts and seeds
- soy products and tempeh
- plant algae
Importance and Uses
Neurological : The body uses phenylalanine to produce the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. It helps in helping signals travel between the brain and the body’s nerve cells, maintaining an awake or alert state, improving memory, reducing hunger pains
Skin : It may improve the skin condition vitiligo, in which areas of the skin become depigmented. Phenylalanine stimulates the production of melanin, which is the natural pigment that gives skin its color.
Most people can consume phenylalanine without any risk of side effects. However, some people have the rare metabolic condition PKU, which causes the body to be unable to break down phenylalanine. This can lead to harmful levels of phenylalanine in the body. So, people with PKU must be cautious about the amount of phenylalanine they consume.