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What are the benefits of amino acids?

Phase 2

Ask Dr. Mike


We sell several individual Amino Acids and although it is easy to know what some are beneficial for (such as L-lysine for immunity, L-arginine for circulation, etc.), but it would be nice to have a list of the known functions and/or benefits of each available in supplement form.

– Carmela at Down to Earth, 2525 S. King Street Honolulu, HI 96826


I am going to focus only on the amino acids with established or fairly established uses as individual supplements. This listing is not meant to be comprehensive, but serves only as a guide. Let’s start with the essential amino acids:

·         Histidine – supports digestion and peripheral nerves.
·         Lysine – low energy and immune function.
·         Phenylalanine – improves mood, supports brain and nerve cells, boosts tyrosine levels and certain neurotransmitters.
·         Methionine – helps break-down fats, supports detox pathways and improves liver function.
·         Branched-chained amino acids (Leucine, isoleucine and valine) – support lean muscle mass and may increase longevity (at least in mice).
·         Threonine – supports liver function and the immune system by increasing immune production from the thymus gland.

Now for the non-essential ones:

·         Glutamine – supports digestion and lean muscle mass.
·         Arginine – improves nitric oxide production, may boost steroid hormones and supports the immune system.
·         Carnitine (assuming you accept it as a true amino acid) – improves cell energy production.
·         Cysteine – Supports the liver, potent antioxidant and may help support joints.
·         Proline – Supports the cardiovascular system.
·         Tyrosine – Supports thyroid hormone production.
·         Tryptophan – Improves mood and decreases sugar cravings through serotonin production

– Michael Smith, MD, Senior Health Scientist

Ask Dr. Mike is a new feature where readers are invited to submit questions to Dr. Michael Smith on a topic of interest. Click here to submit a question to Dr. Mike.

Michael A. Smith, M.D. is the author of The Supplement Pyramid – How to Build Your Personalized Nutritional Regimen., and host of Healthy Talk on RadioMD.com. He also serves as senior health scientist for Life Extension. His engaging ability to present complex medical topics, be it inflammation, diabetes, migraines, food sensitivity or weight management, in a clear, conversational manner has won him a sizable following among anti-aging and disease-prevention enthusiasts. Also known as “Dr. Mike,” he is heard on numerous syndicated national health television and radio shows. He is a graduate of the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

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