Phenylalanine  supplement benefit, and side effects of this amino acid, by Ray Sahelian, M.D.

March 12, 2014
 

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. Inside the body, it is converted into tyrosine, another amino acid. Tyrosine is then used to produce dopamine and norepinephrine, both neurotransmitters. All of these elements are important because of their relationship to the central nervous system.

 

Phenylalanine is available in three chemical forms: L-phenylalanine, the natural form found in proteins throughout the body; D-phenylalanine, a mirror image of L-phenylalanine that is synthesized in a laboratory; and DL-phenylalanine, a combination of the previous two forms.

 

The body converts phenylalanine into tyrosine, another amino acid essential for making proteins, certain brain chemicals, and thyroid hormones. Symptoms of phenylalanine deficiency include confusion, lack of energy, decreased alertness, decreased memory, and diminished appetite.

 

Source Naturals - DLPA, 375 mg, 120 Tablets
DL-Phenylalanine is a 50/50 mixture of the D- and L- forms since phenylalanine is one of the few
amino acids that can be utilized in its D- form.
Warning: Not to be used by phenylketonurics, pregnant or breastfeeding women, or with antidepressants drugs such as MAOI's or SSRI's. If you have chronic high blood pressure, consult your health care professional.
Mind Power Rx has a wonderful balance of brain circulation agents and neurotransmitter precursors with powerful natural brain chemicals that support:



Memory and Mood
Mental clarity
Concentration 
Alertness and Focus. The ingredients are: Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Fo-Ti, Ginseng, Gotu kola, Mucuna pruriens, Reishi, and Rhodiola.  The nutrients and vitamins in Mind Power Rx include Acetyl-l-carnitine, carnitine, Carnosine, Choline, DMAE, Inositol, Methylcobalamin, Pantothenic acid, Trimethylglycine, tyrosine, and the vasodilator Vinpocetine.
 


To purchase, buy Phenylalanine or for more information
 

Supplement Facts: DL- Phenylalanine - 375 mg each pill

Mental benefits
I don't consider it to be a smart pill. There are many other herbs and nutrients that I like for mental enhancement, for instance acetylcarnitine, ginkgo, bacopa, and others.


Phenylalanine side effects, risk, danger
There may be a danger in high doses. Some of the side effects include anxiety, restlessness, rapid heart beat, and potential heart palpitations. Some people could have elevated blood pressure.

Phenylketonuria PKU
A rare metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria occurs in people who are missing an enzyme that is needed to properly metabolize phenylalanine. Symptoms of PKU, which tend to appear between three and six months of age, include eczema, developmental delay, an abnormally small head, and hyperactivity. If it is not treated before three weeks of age, PKU can cause severe, irreversible mental retardation. In the United States, newborns are tested for PKU during the first 48 to 72 hours of life.

 

Do you know of anything natural that will help or cure PKU? It is for my 8 year old son? He has had this disease since birth.
   I have not studied the topic of natural treatment of PKU in any detail and do not have a solution at this time but I am looking our for new research.

 

Forms
Several forms include dl, d, and l phenylalanine. We recently had a question regarding these forms.:
 

Q. I noticed the Source Naturals phenylalamine product is the DL-phenylalanine version. You mention there are three kinds, the L, the D and then the DL-phenylalanine. Would you be able to tell me specifically what issues each of these targets? I have read Phenylalanine can help with things ranging from chronic pain to anxiety, depression, pms, so I would be interested to know what form addresses what exactly.
   A. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid. L-Phenylalanine (LPA) is an electrically-neutral amino acid, one of the twenty common amino acids. L-Phenylalanine that is ingested is mostly hydroxylated to form the amino acid tyrosine, which is used in protein synthesis. D-phenylalanine (DPA) is the mirror form of L-phenylalanine and does not participate in protein biosynthesis although it is found in proteins. The biological activity of D-phenylalanine is not as well known as L-phenylalanine but is thought to have pain reducing properties or perhaps it enhances the pain reducing ability of pain killers when taken together. D-phenylalanine may also have mood lifting potential. DL-Phenylalanine is a combination of D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine and is promoted for mood lifting and pain reducing abilities. Clinical research in humans is quite limited and thus the anti-depressant and anti-pain role of phenylalanine has not been well-evaluated.
  
Phenylalanine in food
L-phenylalanine is found in foods that contain protein such as beef, poultry, fish, milk, eggs, dairy products, soy products, and some nuts and seeds. D-phenylalanine is synthesized in the laboratory and not found in food.

 

IUBMB Life. 2013. Phenylalanine hydroxylase: function, structure, and regulation. Mammalian phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) catalyzes the rate-limiting step in the phenylalanine catabolism, consuming about 75% of the phenylalanine input from the diet and protein catabolism under physiological conditions. In humans, mutations in the PAH gene lead to phenylketonuria (PKU), and most mutations are mainly associated with PAH misfolding and instability. The established treatment for PKU is a phenylalanine-restricted diet and, recently, supplementation with preparations of the natural tetrahydrobiopterin cofactor also shows effectiveness for some patients. Since 1997 there has been a significant increase in the understanding of the structure, catalytic mechanism, and regulation of PAH by its substrate and cofactor, in addition to improved correlations between genotype and phenotype in PKU. Importantly, there has also been an increased number of studies on the structure and function of PAH from bacteria and lower eukaryote organisms, revealing an additional anabolic role of the enzyme in the synthesis of melanin-like pigments. In this review, we discuss these recent studies, which contribute to define the evolutionary adaptation of the PAH structure and function leading to sophisticated regulation for effective catabolic processing of phenylalanine in mammalian organisms.
 

Emails
Q. Why is it so hard to get tyrosine, phenylalanine, and others in smaller doses? Everyone talks about the 500 mgs doses, I personally do much better with the low doses. Is it possible that lot of people would do better with the lower doses, as you talk about in your Mind Boosters book?
   A. It seems that the public thinks higher doses are better, and manufacturers respond to this by selling higher dose products, worried that other companies may grab a larger share of the market by selling higher dosage nutrients.

 

I have recently started researching DLPA and tyrosine and am wondering if there is any real reason to take BOTH, or if it is generally an either/or thing. I currently take tyrosine and iodine, along with high pot. liquid multi vit/min., essential fatty acids etc. I have a thyroid problem and my naturopath has me on tyrosine and iodine, but because I am pretty overweight I was looking into DLPA and am confused by the frequent references to take DLPA and tyrosine TOGETHER, when DLPA will just be turned into tyrosine anyway. Is there another use for DLPA, or is it always turned into tyrosine? And if it is always turned into tyrosine, why bother with both? And if only one should be taken at a time, which is preferred?
   DLPA does convert into tyrosine, but it can be metabolized in a different direction, too, including phenylpurivic acid and other metabolites. I personally don't see the need to take both tyrosine and phenylalanine. As to which one to choose, the best way is through trial and error since there are blood studies or other tests that can be done to find out which supplement will provide better results.

 

Q. In the last issue of your newsletter you talk about the side effects of aspartame and you mention that phenylalanine is one of its ingredients. Is phenylalanine dangerous? can phenylalanine cause cancer?
     A. A Phenylalanine supplement in high doses may cause heart rhythm abnormalities and anxiety. Long term studies are not available to tell us whether phenylalanine supplements taken for prolonged periods cause cancer.

 

Q. Can one take phenylalanine DLPA and L-Tyrosine at the same time? Can one take DLPA, L-Tyrosine, and 5-HTP at the same time?
   A. Firstly it is important to find out the dosage of DLPA that works for you without side effects, and then separately find out the dosage of tyrosine that works for you without side effects. If you combine both DLPA and tyrosine, the dosage of each should be about half of what was appropriate for each one separately. As to your second question, reactions to supplements become difficult to predict when more than 2 are used. Hence, adding 5HTP to dl phenylalanine and then adding 5HTP may be tolerated or cause unpleasant side effects depending on the person using it, other supplements used, other medications that might be taken together, a person's overall health, and most importantly the dosages that are used.

 

I read that if you take supplemental Tyrosine, you should make sure that it also contains Phenylalanine or take supplemental Phenylalanine. It also said that Phenylalanine must be present with Tyrosine in order to produce Tyrosine in the body. Do you agree? Or is it okay to just take Tyrosine alone?
   Depends on the reason these supplements are being used. In most cases there is no reason to use both, tyrosine works well by itself and there is no need to take both tyrosine and phenylalanine. But each condition is different, each person is different, and the dosage makes a significant difference.

 

I have been reading about phenylalanine and dopamine but there's not a lot of research or info regarding the use of d l phenylalanine with ssri's. i do take a ssri medication. why do you not recommend them both? also, I have heard that phenyl is not good for anxiety, but i suppose that would be dose related. maybe l-tyrosine would be a milder choice. now that i remember, the reason i stopped drinking diet drinks was it seemed to make me feel very strange, although i cannot say for sure that was the cause. anyway, my doc wants to put me on a dopamine agonist to increase my dopamine but i would like to try something natural like maybe nadh or l-tyrosine or something similar. As always, i understand you cannot comment on psychiatric conditions, but if you wanted to raise your dopamine levels naturally, where would you start?
    Rather than focusing on what specific brain chemical to increase, it is best to have a wider viewpoint and treat overall symptoms of a condition. However, you can find dopamine increasing supplement information.

 

On your web page you mention that Phenylalanine converts to L-Tyrosine, which you further explain converts to L-Dopa, Dopamine, Norepinephrine, and Epinephrine. So, I apologize if the following questions may sound rather ignorant, if Phenylalanine converts into Tyrosine, which then converts into the other aforementioned neurotransmitters, why would a person not just use a Phenylalanine supplement, rather than a Tyrosine supplement? I suppose another approach to asking this might include a request for clarification regarding your comment that "(phenylalanine)...can be metabolized in a different direction...including phenylpurivic acid and other metabolites." Essentially, what does this statement mean, and what are its potential implications, particularly for the person who might be considering supplementation with either amino acid? Thank you in advance for any additional light you can shed on this subject.
   When a phenylalanine supplement is taken, it is partially converted into tyrosine and partially into other substances. The tyrosine is further converted into L dopa and other substances, therefore the effects from each amino acid or other substances down to road of metabolism somehow overlap but have differences which do no make them exactly equivalent in overall effects. The best way to know which supplement works best is to try it by itself for a few days.