Certain amino acids work with neurotransmitters in the brain to help improve sleep and to balance the mood swings that can be triggered by abrupt or major changes in circumstance.
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CHICAGO (March. 1, 2021) – As the COVID-19 pandemic has added a new layer of stress to day-to-day living, AminoFacts, an independent, non-profit organization based in the US that advocates for labeling transparency around Food Grade Amino Acids in dietary supplements, is providing guidance on which amino acids can be a natural means to maintain mental wellness.
Certain amino acids work with neurotransmitters in the brain to help improve sleep and to balance the mood swings that can be triggered by abrupt or major changes in circumstance. For example, the neurotransmitters that impact mood (dopamine) and sleep (serotonin) are made from the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan.
Amino Acids 101
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. The human body uses amino acids to make all proteins in the body. There are three groups of amino acids: essential, nonessential and conditional. It’s the essential amino acids that we must get from our diet – they cannot be made by the body. There are nine essential amino acids and they are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Amino acids for the supplement market are either extracted from plants or animals or manufactured synthetically. Plant-based sources include sugarcane, beet, peas and corn. Animal sources can be made from meat and meat byproducts such as human hair, feathers, fish silage, blood, milk, and stomach contents.
Amino Acids for Mental Wellness
Dietary supplements can help to maintain the supply of the amino acids that can help the body maintain optimal mental wellness. Some of the amino acids that offer brain health benefits during times of stress include:
Tryptophan (a precursor of Serotonin), tyrosine and phenylalanine are precursors of neurotransmitters that offer mood balancing and sleep benefits.
Methionine, which is sold at retail in its more stable form, SAME (S-adenosyl-methionine), works to replace deficient nutrients that can cause mood swings and/or a case of the blues.
L-Histidine helps with zinc absorption, which helps the brain operate on an even keel.
A More Conscious Consumer
While demand for supplements is high, the consumer is becoming more conscious about ethical and natural sourcing of supplements. Labels on some popular amino acid supplements can be difficult to navigate – some make claims that are true for all products, and some are less-than transparent about where their products are sourced and how they are made. For example, while amino acids sourced from plants or animals are molecularly identical and equally effective, some manufacturers don’t list the sourcing for its products, which has ethical implications for consumers with plant-based lifestyle preferences.
“Supplements can be a great way to make sure you are getting the amino acids you need for overall health, including mental well-being,” said AminoFacts Board Member David Madsen, Ph.D. “But not all supplements are created the same. Many consumers may not be aware that their supplements are made with materials derived from animal parts; and many have fillers and other additives. This begs the question: what are consumers supposed to think?”
“The supplement market is a bit behind the food industry in terms of providing consumers with specific and consistent information about what they’re putting into their bodies,” said David Madsen, Ph.D. and AminoFacts Board member. “It is important for consumers to know what questions to ask, and how to decipher labels to find answers.”
Approximately 77% of U.S. consumers take supplements, according to a survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Meanwhile, 94% say it is important that brands be transparent about what is in their food and how it is made, according to a study by Label Insight. Yet, a recent survey conducted by AminoFacts suggests that only a third of consumers know how amino acid supplement products are sourced.
AminoFacts is also offering all consumers the chance to submit their favorite brand to www.aminofacts.org for an evaluation.
AminoFacts is an independent, non-profit organization that brings transparency to sourcing and production processes around food grade amino acids, a significant ingredient in many dietary supplements, so that consumers know more about what they’re putting into their bodies. The organization was established as a response to comprehensive public opinion research in the San Francisco metropolitan area that showed little knowledge, even among active supplement takers, of where amino acids are sourced and how they are made. AminoFacts is dedicated to providing information on the industry’s sourcing and manufacturing trends, along with information on leading U.S. brands. The organization’s advisors include experts on supplements, regulatory requirements and manufacturing processes for food grade amino acids, as well as scientists and leaders within the food and dietary supplement sectors.