Aromatic Amino acids (AAA) are generally nonpolar amino acids that have aromatic side rings. These types of amino acids generally absorb ultraviolet light. The side rings of these amino acids are actually determined as aromatic due to the number of electrons present in their side rings. These side rings can absorb light as the electrons get excited when activated by light and when going back to its original state, the electron will either release energy or emit some form of light. Aromatic amino acids are also semi-essential meaning some of them need generally be obtained from animal-based protein products and food items.
The importance of Aromatic Amino Acids
Aromatic Amino acids are essential to the functioning of the human body. These aromatic amino acids are responsible for some very basic biological compounds of the human body such as neurotransmitters and hormones. There are four main aromatic amino acids and these four (4) amino acids have unique and different benefits and contributions. The four main aromatic amino acids are phenylalanine, tryptophan, histidine and tyrosine and there are three (3) minor ones such as thyroxine, 5-hydroxytryptophan and L-DOPA.
What do these Aromatic Amino Acids do?
As mentioned earlier, there are a number of aromatic amino acids and each amino acid is unique with various different contributions and health benefits to the human body. Below are the details of the said aromatic amino acids:
This essential aromatic amino acid is neutral and nonpolar. It has a benzyl side chain and is generally inert. They are commonly found in the breast milk of mammals, eggs, chicken, liver, beef, soybeans and milk. This aromatic amino acid can also come from spinach and green leafy vegetables, tofu and lupin seeds. PHE is usually used manufacturing food and drinks, and is sold as an analgesic and antidepressant supplement.
2. Tryptophan (TRP)
This aromatic amino acid is an essential amino acid in the human diet. TRP mostly comes from protein-rich diets and can be found in large amounts in chocolates, oats, dried dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meats, eggs, fish, poultry, sesame, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, bananas and peanuts. TRP can also be consumed in large amounts through turkey. This aromatic amino acid is important in protein biosynthesis and as a supplement against depression and sleeplessness.
3. Tyrosine (TYR)
Tyrosine is used by cells to synthesize proteins. This aromatic amino acid has a polar side ring and can be found in significant amounts in protein-rich food items like chicken, cheese, turkey, fish, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanuts, almonds pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soy products, lima beans, avocados, and bananas. TYR is primarily used against stress, cold, fatigue, and aids in fighting off the adverse effects of prolonged work and lack of sleep.
4. Histidine (HIS or H)
An aromatic amino acid first isolated by a German physician named Albrecht Kossel in 1896, this amino acid can be found in significant amounts in soybeans, chicken breast, beef, wheat germs, raw salmon and breast milk. This aromatic amino acid can be used to detoxify the body against heavy metals and indirectly supplies the body’s tissues and muscles with essential oxygen supply. HIS is also known for regulating growth and stimulating the body’s repair mechanism.
Things to Consider Before Taking Branched Chain Amino Acids like Aromatic Amino Acids
While the health benefits of amino acids with side rings such as aromatic amino acids are well documented, there are still some precautions that should be observed. Below are some of these things to consider before regularly aromatic amino acids:
Precautions for Pregnant Women and breastfeeding
There is limited information on the safety of taking aromatic amino acids for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Caution must be observed before taking amino acid supplements
Precautions when used by Children
There is evidence that aromatic amino acids may be safe for children if taken short term. Studies suggest that children taking amino acid supplements for six (6) months are relatively safe from any adverse side effects
Precautions for patients suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease
Patients suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease may adversely be affected by the intake of aromatic amino acids since evidence suggests that lung disease can actually be worsened by patients suffering from the said ailment.
Precautions for heavy drinkers
Heavy drinkers, particularly alcoholics, may be negatively affected by aromatic amino acids as they may contribute or speed up liver disease leading up to brain damage (hepatic encephalopathy).
Precautions for infants
Lower blood sugar has been observed in infants taking Aromatic Amino acids as these essential nutrients can actually stimulate the pancreas resulting in an increased release in insulin.
Precautions before and during surgery
Similar to the previous precaution in infants, amino acids can actually lower blood sugar which can pose a problem for people who recently underwent surgery. It advisable then to consult a medical professional before taking any amino acids before and after surgery.
Some reminders for people planning to take aromatic amino acid supplements
Some precautions have already been enumerated above, but there may still be additional reminders before fully committing to a diet that includes aromatic amino acids:
1. Know your physical status and limitations
Some of the precautions mainly apply to specific conditions of patients (infants, pregnant women and those in pre and post surgery) and it is best to personally understand your physical status and limitations before actually starting with your amino acid supplementation.
2. Speak to your Medical partner or professional before completely incorporating amino acids into your supplement
Your medical partners such as doctors and dieticians may have some recommendations or additional precautions you need to take into consideration before recommending specific amino acids as a supplement. Additionally, your doctor may be in a better position to recommend amino acids in conjunction with any multivitamins or supplements you are already taking. Combining the powerful impact of proper diet, exercise and healthy food supplements under the careful supervision of your doctor should translate to better quality of life.