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Nutritional Supplement

Amino Acids Overview

Possible Deficiencies

The vast majority of Americans eats more than enough protein and also more than enough of each essential amino acid for normal purposes. Dieters, some strict vegetarian body builders, and anyone consuming an inadequate number of calories may not be consuming adequate amounts of amino acids. In these cases, the body will break down the protein in muscle tissue and use those amino acids to meet the needs of more important organs or will simply not build more muscle mass despite increasing exercise.

Side Effects

Many Western diets provide more protein than the body needs, causing excess nitrogen to be excreted as urea in urine. The excess nitrogen has been linked in some studies with reduced kidney function in old age. Some, but not all studies have found that when people have impaired kidney function, restricting dietary intake of protein slows the rate of decline of kidney function.3

Excessive protein intake also can increase excretion of calcium, and some evidence has linked high-protein diets with osteoporosis,4 particularly regarding animal protein.5 On the other hand, some protein is needed for bone formation. A double-blind study showed that elderly people whose diets provided slightly less than the recommended amount of protein suffered less bone loss if they consumed an additional 20 grams of protein per day.6 A doctor can help people assess their protein intake and needs.

Amino acids include several different nutrients, each of which has the potential for side effects. Look up the unique side effects for each and discuss the potential benefits and risks with your doctor or pharmacist:

References

1. Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 1994;59(suppl):1203S-12S.

2. Lemon PW. Is increased dietary protein necessary or beneficial for individuals with a physically active lifestyle? Nutr Rev 1996;54:S169-75 [review].

3. Sitprija V, Suvanpha R. Low protein diet and chronic renal failure in Buddhist monks. BMJ 1983;287:469-71.

4. Heaney R. Protein intake and the calcium economy. J Am Diet Assoc 1993;93:1259-60 [review].

5. Abelow BJ, Holford TR, Insogna KL. Cross-cultural association between dietary animal protein and hip fracture: a hypothesis. Calcif Tiss Int 1992;50:14-8.

6. Schürch MA, Rizzoli R, Slosman D, et al. Protein supplements increase serum insulin-like growth factor-I levels and attenuate proximal femur bone loss in patients with recent hip fracture. A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ann Intern Med 1998;128:801-9.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.

Copyright © 2020 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2020.