What is L-phenylalanine?
L-phenylalanine (LPA) is an essential amino acid, serving as a building block for proteins. It is not produced within the body, but is naturally present in milk, meat, fish, egg or cheese for example. For commercial purposes, LPA is produced using the Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli), which is able to synthesize aromatic amino acids, including phenylalanine. Sufficient amounts of LPA within body are either achieved by consuming foods containing it, or through supplements if recommended by a physician.
How L-phenylalanine works
The drug is capable of entering into the brain, which tends to be its prime characteristic. This way, the drug is considered to improve the mood by increasing production of certain neurotransmitters within the brain. Some of the neurotransmitters produced by LPA are essential for routine cognitive processes in the brain. To name a few: epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine etc. The drug can be helpful in improving memory, learning and other cognitive processes. This drug is argued to be effective in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but research work is required to establish its efficacy in ADHD patients.
Effects of L-phenylalanine
Recently a study has reported that phenylalanine helps in the production of melatonin, which is a neurotransmitter essential for regulating sleep and waking routines. Moreover, phenylalanine is famous as an antidepressant as well as analgesic (pain killer). The first characteristic is due to production of tyrosine which is helpful in batteling depression and anxiety. The analgesic benefits are referred to phenylalanine because it tends to minimize the neuro-transmission in painful areas. Moreover, the drug is also used as a skin ointment to treat vitiligo - white spots on the skin. The secret lies within it acting as precursor for production of melanin, which gives the skin its color. This benefit can be achieved, either by oral intake of LPA followed by exposure of ultraviolet radiations, or by applying LPA containing salves directly to the skin.
Recommended Dosage / Usage instructions
LPA is recommended to be ingested with an empty stomach. This way, it competes with proteins to cross the blood-brain-barrier. However, having a sufficiently high amount of vitamins is necessary for reaching maximum efficacy.
The supplement should not be taken with other anti-psychotic or anti-depressive drugs. There are a number of different recommended dosages for this supplement, which vary for each individual. Common side effects reported for LPA include headache, nausea, or heartburn.
The drug should not be taken by pregnant women as this can lead to birth defects. Women who have a lower level of phenylalanine should only ingest LPA by consuming foods that are rich of it. Same applies to lactating mothers to some extent. The patients with phenylketonuria disorder (possessing higher amount of phenylalanine) are recommended to never take LPA, as it can result in high blood pressure, brain strokes, mental retardation and other serious issues. Patients suffering from named conditions are even recommended a specific diet containing less or zero phenylalanine since their childhood.