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How to Boost Your Anti-Aging Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are essential for many functions in the body. They are involved in muscle growth, hormone production, immune system regulation, neurotransmitter synthesis, and more. However, as we age, our ability to produce and absorb amino acids declines, which can lead to various health problems. 

Some of the amino acids that you should pay attention to as you age are Glutamine, carnitine, taurine, leucine, arginine, creatine, tryptophan, methionine and lysine. The good news is when we eat a diversified whole food diet that we can get most of what we need. Sometimes supplementation is necessary should your body be out of alignment or unable to absorb nutrients from food, and that's where a functional medicine doctor can assist. Let's discuss each of these amino acids, what they do in the body and what foods you can find them in, as well as some recommended supplementation. Of course before starting any new supplements or diet plans you should consult with your physician. 

This list features endogenous amino acids, which your body naturally synthesizes and can be enhanced by your diet.

  1. Glutamine: is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It's involved in many metabolic processes, such as energy production, detoxification, intestinal health, and immune function. Glutamine deficiency can lead to increased inflammation, impaired gut barrier function, increased susceptibility to infections, and muscle wasting. We can supplement with glutamine powder or capsules, preferably on an empty stomach or between meals. The recommended dosage is 5 to 10 grams per day, depending on your individual needs and goals.

  2. Carnitine is derived from lysine and methionine. It's responsible for transporting fatty acids into the mitochondria, where they are burned for energy. As we know from the 9 hallmarks of aging mitochondrial health is of the utmost importance as it drives energy production in our bodies. Carnitine also helps to prevent oxidative stress and improve insulin sensitivity. A deficiency in carnitine can lead to reduced energy levels, increased fat storage, impaired cognitive function, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. If your practitioner feels you are still not getting enough you can always supplement with carnitine in the form of L-carnitine or acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), which has additional benefits for brain health. The recommended dosage is 500 to 2000 mg per day, depending on the individual's needs and goals.

  3. Taurine is synthesized from cysteine and methionine. It is involved in many functions in the body, such as regulating calcium levels in the cells, stabilizing cell membranes, modulating nerve impulses, and supporting heart health. Taurine deficiency can lead to increased blood pressure, arrhythmias, seizures, anxiety, and depression. We can also supplement with taurine powder or capsules, preferably before bedtime or before exercise. The recommended dosage is 500 to 3000 mg per day, depending on the individual's needs and goals.

  4. Arginine enhances cardiovascular health by improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure as a precursor to nitric oxide. It aids in protein synthesis for muscle repair and boosts immune function by supporting T-cell production, crucial for overall well-being. For adults, arginine supplementation typically ranges from 3 to 6 grams per day, based on health goals and individual tolerance.

  5. Creatine plays a crucial role in energy production by increasing the availability of ATP, the body's primary energy molecule, especially during high-intensity, short-duration exercises. It aids in improving strength, increasing lean muscle mass, and enhancing recovery times. Additionally, creatine supports brain function, potentially improving cognitive processes and reducing mental fatigue.  For creatine supplementation, 3-5 grams daily is recommended for maintaining increased muscle stores after an initial loading phase if used.

This list features exogenous amino acids, which your body doesn't naturally synthesize and must be sourced from your diet.

  1.  Leucine is crucial for protein synthesis, muscle repair, and regulating blood sugar levels. It triggers muscle growth, supports metabolic functions, and provides energy during stress and exercise. Recommended leucine supplementation is typically 2 to 5 grams per day to support muscle synthesis and recovery.

  2. Tryptophan is best known for being in turkey and making you tired on Thanksgiving, but this amino acid is one we need on a regular basis. It has involvement in the production of melatonin, serotonin, niacin and protein. For tryptophan, a common supplement dose is 500-1000 mg daily, taken with a meal or as advised by a healthcare provider.

  3. Methionine serves several critical functions in the body protein synthesis, detoxification, antioxidant synthesis, absorption of minerals, and is involved in the metabolism of neurotransmitters and DNA methylation. Supplementation is typically not recommended and should not be attempted on your own. There are risks to having elevated levels of methionine specifically as it pertains to heart health. 

  4. Lysine plays several crucial roles in the body like protein synthesis, calcium absorption, collagen production, hormone, enzyme and energy production, and it also has antiviral properties. The recommended daily intake is about 38 mg of lysine per kilogram of body weight. Doses can range from 1,000 to 3,000 mg per day.

Consult your healthcare provider before beginning any supplement or diet adjustments. Excessive intake could do more harm than benefit to your body!

Essential Amino Acid Sources

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To maintain optimal health and slow the effects of aging, it's essential to include a variety of amino acid-rich foods in your diet. These building blocks can be found abundantly in a range of natural, whole foods. Here's a list of food sources where you can find these vital amino acids:

  • Grass fed/pasture raised Meat: beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey
  • Eggs
  • Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Fish: salmon, tuna, sardines, cod, anchovies
  • Nuts & Seeds: almonds, peanuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Soy Products: tempeh, tofu, and soybeans
  • Grains: quinoa, oat, rice, and wheat germ
  • Seaweed & Algae: spirulina, kombu, kelp, and blue-green algae
  • Veggies: asparagus, avocado, beets, peas, spinach, cabbage, and parsley

  

Understanding the roles of amino acids like Glutamine, Carnitine, Taurine, Leucine, Arginine, Creatine, Tryptophan, Methionine, and Lysine highlights their importance in maintaining and enhancing our health as we age. By incorporating a balanced diet rich in these essential nutrients and considering supplementation when necessary, we can support our body's needs, promote optimal health, and potentially mitigate some age-related changes. 

Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplementation regimen to ensure it aligns with your health goals and conditions. This holistic approach to nutrition underscores the power of informed dietary choices in supporting our well-being throughout the aging process.


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