Amino Acids – Building Blocks for Neurotransmitters

Taurine, tryptophan and tyrosine are three amino acids that begin with the letter ‘T’. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are classified as essential if they cannot be made by the body on its own and must be acquired through the diet. They are classified as non-essential if the body can make them. However, we can become deficient in the non-essential amino acids if we do not take in the nutrients necessary to make them.
Taurine is a non-essential amino acid. Zinc and vitamin B6 are some of the building blocks for taurine and both zinc and vitamin B6 are common deficiencies. Taurine is known to help stabilize cell membranes in electrically active tissues such as the brain and heart. It is also a component of the bile produced by the liver and is important in preventing gallstones and for keeping cholesterol soluble.
Stress, alcohol consumption and vegetarian diets will cause taurine deficiencies. Taurine is useful as an anti-convulsant and is often used clinically to treat epilepsy. Taurine is also used to prevent potassium loss from the heart muscle, helping to prevent cardiac arrhythmias. Food sources of taurine include eggs, fish, meat and dairy products.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that was banned from the supplement market until recently. Tryptophan is necessary for the production of vitamin B3 and is also used by the brain to produce serotonin. Tryptophan helps control hyperactivity, alleviates stress, is good for the heart, aids in weight control by reducing appetite, and enhances the release of growth hormone. It is also good for migraine headaches if they are caused by serotonin deficiency. Food sources of tryptophan include brown rice, cottage cheese, peanuts, and soy protein.
Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that is the precursor to several hormones including the thyroid hormone thyroxin and the pituitary hormone norepinephrin.
Tyrosine is commonly used to treat depression because it is the precursor to norepinephrin and dopamine which are neurotransmitters that help regulate mood. Tyrosine also acts as a mild antioxidant, suppresses the appetite and helps to reduce body fat. Tyrosine enables weight loss if hypothyroidism is part of the weight issue because tyrosine helps to form active thyroid hormones and stimulates the release of growth hormone which helps increase muscle mass. Tyrosine also aids in the production of melanin (skin pigment). Symptoms of tyrosine deficiency can also include low blood pressure, low body temperature and restless leg syndrome. Food sources of tyrosine include almonds, avodacos, bananas, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Amino acid supplements can be very helpful. A common issue I see in amino acid deficiencies is either insufficient protein intake or impaired protein digestion. In order to digest and assimilate protein, stomach acid is necessary. Those taking acid blockers need to supplement a digestive enzyme containing protease to help digest essential nutrients.

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About NaturalCowgirl

Margaret Durst has been involved with natural health for over 20 years. In her early 30s, she was faced with a medical diagnosis that recommended a lifetime of prescription drugs. In her heart, she knew that there must be an alternative way to healing and health and thus began her journey into natural health. Along the way, Margaret has trained with many different natural health practitioners and earned a degree in Naturopathy. She established her nutritional consulting practice and opened The Green House in 2003 to enable her mission of helping people navigate the natural health maze. People have praised Margaret for intuitive ability to help people address their health issues and goals with diet and lifestyle choices and successfully take responsibility for their health and wellbeing. This comes from Margaret’s deeply held beliefs in the body’s innate ability to heal and in the tools nature provides for health and healing.
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9 Responses to Amino Acids – Building Blocks for Neurotransmitters

  1. epilepsymeandneurology says:

    I was talking with a yogi friend about protein digestion, he said that studies show as we get older we are less efficeint at protein digestion, and it has been shown to help protein digestion to eat protein in the 20min / half hour after exercising. I don’t know, but it seems to make sense. Have you heard anything like this?

    • Yes on the digestion gets worse as we age, but I have never heard of digestion being better after exercise – but try it and see. Post back if you notice a difference.

      I see your blog concerns epilepsy and neurology – part of why I posted this article is that I am doing research on neurological issues – I have recently attended continuing education on neurological disfunction and am working with some of these supplements in my practice.
      I usually recommend taking amino acids on an empty stomach to maximize absorption – they will also absorb better without competition from other amino acids (as in what is contained in your food.)

      • epilepsymeandneurology says:

        Thank you. I will cetrainly look to see if there is any difference. your work/research sounds very interesting. I look forward to hearing the results! best wishes Ruth

  2. Reblogged this on epilepsy me and neurology and commented:
    I have been following Margaret’s Natural Health for some time, the last post of hers i re-blogged was on amino acids, but this one on amino acids as building blocks for neurotransmitters is particularly interesting, and relevent to me. Margaret has a great deal of knowledge about food and I never tire of reading about her experience in this area. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did!

    • Thank You!

      One of the most important co-factors to these amino acids – in terms of helping them get into the right form and into the right place is B-6. I like the P-5-P form (phosphorylated.)

      A couple of weeks back I posted B-Vitamins – They are all important. When dealing with health challenges, especially neurological – it is important to look at each of these B vitamins and see if one or more might be more helpful in addition to a good B complex. For example, folic acid helps with balance and coordination – methylfolate in particular.

      I write for the local paper – so my posts are a “fixed” length. I am trying to get some of my continuing education on neurology into some of these posts as I digest it. I regret having to leave some things out for length, but am working to a summary article that links back – stay tuned.

      Thanks again. I appreciate knowing someone is out there reading all of this.

  3. thank you! i’ll look forward to the next intsalments!

  4. fredphillips says:

    I’m looking for all the information I can get on how to heal Parkinson’s naturally. This post ha sbee n very helpful. Cheers!

  5. Hami says:

    I enjoy neurology and every thing to do with the brain. THis talk on neuro-transmitters and how to best help them with amino acids was helpful. Thanks

  6. says:

    My son has epilepsy, would love to follow

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