Basic Information

Medical Theory

Medical Information

       Medical Fact


Exploring the medical and scientific background of blood drinking
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
Copyright 2005
by Sarah Mediv 
  All Rights reserved 
  E-Mail: s_faolchu@yahoo.com
Amino Acid Requirements, Classifications, and Function
    Amino acids serve in many functions in the body: building blocks of protiens, transport signals in the nervous system, bases for making the bodies energy, and even in making hormones. I am not going to go into the chemistry of amino acids (since that in itself is a three credit course!) but just say that all amino acids can be basic (negative charge) or acidic (positive charge) and that can effect what they do in the body.

    There are 21 amino acids used in various functions, of these, in a normal body, only seven are essential. Amino acids are divided into two general groups: essential and non-essential, with three "semi-essential" amino acids. Essential amino acids have to be eaten through the diet because the body has no way to make them. Non-essential amino acids can be made by the body in one way or another. There are several diseases, however, due to an insufficiency of amino acids, either the person is not eating them, or the body is not making them correctly. Depending on the amino acid, the symptoms vary... if it was an amino acid that was a part of nerve signaling, the person may experience tetanus (locking) or the muscle, or inability to move a muscle, if neurological (of the brain) the person's thoughts may become difficult, or fall into a coma. etc.

    Included is the name of the amino acid, where it typically functions, required amounts, blood concentrations in the typical person, and symptoms of imbalance. Again, as with all other medically related things on these pages, if you think this is a possibility, your doctor alone can run the tests for the imbalances. All blood levels are for adults only and in umoles/100ml.

Have to be taken in through the diet because the body has no way to make them.

    Isoleucine (eye-sew-LOU-seen)
    Similar to both Valine and Leucine in structure with similar catabolism. It is used by muscle for repair after exercise, in the formation of hemoglobin, ATP production, and helps regulate blood glucose levels.
            Deficiency: Headaches, dizziness, fatigue, depression, confusion as well as irritability.
            Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is caused by the inability to metabolize leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The disease named due to urine from affected people smelling like maple syrup. A deficiency may affect the myelin covering of the nerves.
            Blood levels:Male: 6-16, Female: 5-14
            Requirement:12 mg/kg of body weight
            Foods with highest concentrations:Almonds, cashews, chicken, eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat

    Leucine (LOU-seen)
    Stimulates muscle protein synthesis and insulin release. Important in growth hormone formation and wound healing.
            Deficiency: Same as Isolucine.
            Excess intake: Increased incidence of Pellagra and increased ammonia in the body.
            Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is caused by the inability to metabolize leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The disease named due to urine from affected people smelling like maple syrup. A deficiency may affect the myelin covering of the nerves.
            Blood levels:Male: 11-23, Female: 8-19
            Requirement:16 mg/kg of body weight
            Foods with highest concentrations:Protien foods, brown rice, beans, and whole grains.

    Lysine (LIE-seen)
    Important in calcium absorption and protien synthesis. It is needed to produce antibodies, hormones, enzymes, collagen formation as well as repair of tissue.
            Deficiency: Mostly benign, can cause protein in the urine and high levels of ammonia in the blood after a high-protien meal. Also may cause anemia, enzyme disorders, lack of energy, hair loss, bloodshot eyes, weight loss and retarded growth as well as reproductive problems, poor appetite and poor concentration.
            Excess Intake: Diarrhea, stomach cramps, tendency toward gallstones.
            Hyperlysinemia: Impaired sexual development, lax ligaments and muscles, convulsions in early life, and mild anemia.
        Blood levels:Male: 14-34, Female: 12-31
        Requirement:12 mg/kg
        Foods with highest concentrations:Dairy products, eggs, lima beans, meat and brewer's yeast.

        Histidine (HISS-teh-deen)
        Important in anti-inflammatory (swelling) responses. Also helps repair myelin in the nervous system, removes heavy metals from the body, important for production of red and white blood cells, and increases production of gastric juices.
                Excess Intake: May lead to stress and anxiety.
                Histidinemia: Mostly benign disease. Once thought to cause mental retardation and siezures.
                Blood levels:Male: 6-9, Female: 3-11
                Requirement:20 mg/kg
                Foods with highest concentrations:Pork

        Threonine (three-OH-neen)
        Important for balancing protiens, plus helps for collagen and elastin in the skin. Also invloved in liver function and helps immune system through antibody formation.
                Deficiency: Irritability
                Blood levels:Male: 9-22, Female: 8-25
                Requirement:8 mg/kg of body weight per day
                Foods with highest concentrations:Meats, dairy and eggs, as well as in lower quantities in wheat germ, nuts, beans and some vegetables.

        Tryptophan (tript-OH-fan)
        Required for niacin (B3) production, precursor to seratonin and melatonin.
                Deficiency: With Magnesium, may cause arterial spasms.
                Excess intake:gastrointestinal upsets, headaches, sleepiness and anxiety.
                Blood levels:Male: 4-8, Female: 4-8
                Requirement:3 mg/kg of body weight per day
                Foods with highest concentrations:Cottage cheese, meat, soy protein and peanuts.

        Valine (VAHL-een)
        Muscle repair and growth. Also serves as an energy source for muscles.
                Excess Intake: Crawling sensation on the skin as well as hallucinations.
                Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is caused by the inability to metabolize leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The disease named due to urine from affected people smelling like maple syrup. A deficiency may affect the myelin covering of the nerves.
            Blood levels:Male: 16-42, Female: 14-38
            Requirement:14 mg/kg
            Foods with highest concentrations:Dairy, meat, grain, mushrooms, soy and peanuts.

    The body can synthesize some, but not enough for proper functioning, or the amino acid is used in large amounts to produce other amino acids.

    Methionine (meth-EYE-o-neen)
    Essential for fat breakdown and removing heavy metals from the body.
            Deficieny: Severe deficiency may manifest in dementia. Lesser deficiencies may have symptoms like fatty liver, slow growth, weakness, edema and skin lesions.
            Excess Intake: May increase chances of arteriosclerosis by increasing cholesterol.
        Blood levels:1-4
        Requirement:12 mg/kg of body weight
        Foods with highest concentrations: Meat, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds

    Phenylalanine (fehn-ill-AL-ah-neen)
    Precursor for tyrosine (which is a precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine), functions in pain suppression and brain function.
            Deficiency: lethargy, edema, weakness, skin lesions as well as liver damage and slow growth.
            Excess Intake: Changes in blood pressure, headaches, nausea and heartburn. Large amounts may cause nerve damage.
            Phenylketonuria: Results from a defect in metabolism of Phenylalanine. Causes mental retardation, light pigmentation, odd gait, stance, and sitting posture, eczema, and epilepsy. May also cause cerebral calcification and cataracts if untreated.
            Blood levels:Male: 4-12, Female: 4-9
            Requirement:16 mg/kg of body weight per day (this in actually phenylalanine and tyrosine)
            Foods with highest concentrations:Dairy products, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts and seeds.

    Arginine (Are-JEH-neen)
    Important for growth, estrogen production,and control of blood sugar through insulin, also important for urea production from ammonia by the kidneys.
            Deficiency: Decreased insulin production (hyperglycemia) and possible hair loss.
            Excess Intake: Skin thickening and coarsening of the skin, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, as well as increasing the activity of some viruses.
            Blood levels: Male: 7-16, Female: 5-14
            Requirement: Unknown
            Foods with highest concentrations: Meat, nuts, eggs, milk and cheese

Can be made by the body in one way or another.

    Alanine (al-AH-neen)
    Important in DNA replication and synthesis (copying and creating), protien synthesis, and transport of nitrogen from peripheral tissues to the liver. Also is found in high levels in the blood, second only to glutamine.
        Disease: Drug-resistant seizures, low levels can confirm of hepatitis with other symptoms
        Blood levels: Male: 26-55, Female: 29-51
        Requirement: Made from breakdown of other amino acids and DNA break-down
        Foods with highest concentrations: fowl meat (low in livers)
    Asparagine (asp-PARA-jean)
    Serves to excite nerves (trigger), works in brain energy metabolism.
        Blood levels: Male: 6-11, Female: 7-10
        Requirement: None, easily synthesized from glutamine
        Foods with highest concentrations: Dairy, beef poultry and eggs

    Carnitine (carn-EH-teen)
    Not actually a true amino acid, but similarity in structure often has it classed with Amino Acids. Important in providing energy to tissues, especially the heart, prevents fatty build up by removal of fatty acids,
            Deficiency: Genetic metabolic deficiency. Causes confusion, heart pain, muscular weakness as well as obesity.
            Excess Intake: May cause diarrhea or a fishy odor.
            Blood levels: Unknown
            Requirement: Made from breakdown of lysine
            Foods with highest concentrations: Animal hearts, red meat, fish, chicken and milk

    Cystine (sis-TEEN)
    Mostly protein formation. Found largely in tissue and skeletal connective tissue, hair, and gut enzymes. Required for the proper function of Vitamin B6, and in healing burns and wounds.
            Homocystinuria: Mental retardation and lens luxation in young children. Caused by defect in cystathionine beta-synthase enzyme.
            Blood levels:Male: 3-9, Female: 3-9
            Foods with highest concentrations:Duck

    Glutamine (gloot-AH-mean)
    Major part of brain signals, is part of "MSG"
        Disease: Infant seizures
        Blood levels: Male: 45-105, Female: 40-90
        Requirement: None, easily made from other amino acids
        Foods with highest concentrations: Ham and Wild Game

    Glycine (GLIE-seen)
    Inhibitor of nerves, important to light perception of the eye, possibly important to wound healing. Important to protien production and nucleic acid production.
        Blood levels: Male: 15-41, Female: 18-45
        Requirement: 3-5g/kg body weight, easily made from other amino acids, is the simplest amino acid
        Foods with highest concentrations: Fish, meat, beans, and dairy products.

    Ornithine (orn-EH-theen)
    Functions as precursor to Arginine, important for tissue growth and growth hormone release.
        Disease:Rare, possibly insomnia due to decreased melatonin production
        Blood levels:Male: 5-14, Female: 5-12
        Foods with highest concentrations: Meat, fish, dairy, and eggs

    Proline (PRO-lean)
    Important for the formation of collagen.
        Blood levels:Male: 13-40, Female: 10-36
        Requirement:None, easily synthesized
        Foods with highest concentrations:High amounts in processed meats (deli meats)

    Serine (SEHR-een)
    Cell membrane function, precursor to porphyrians and hemoglobin, can be used to produce energy. Metabolism of fat, tissue growth and the immune system as it assists in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
            Excess Intake: May cause immune suppression.
            Blood levels:Male: 10-21, Female: 10-20
            Requirement:Easily made from other amino acids
            Foods with highest concentrations: Meats and dairy products, wheat gluten, peanuts as well as soy products.

    Taurine (TAW-reen)
    Essential amino acid for infants. Serves in brain protection and normal functioning of heart, gall bladder, eyes, and vascular system. Key ingredient in bile: Fat digestion, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well as the control of cholesterol serum levels
            Deficiency: May impair vision and cause problems with fat metabolism. A theory exists that it may also be involved in the development of epilepsy. High alcohol intake can decrease the body's ability to use taurine.
            Blood levels:Male: ?, Female: ?
            Foods with highest concentrations:Meat and fish

    Tyrosine (tie-ROW-seen)
    Brain function, synthesis of signaling compounds in the body, possibly some thyroid function.
            Deficiency: Hypothyroidism, low blood pressure, low body temperature, and "Restless Legs Syndrome"
            Excess Intake: Corneal eruptions and photophobia.
            Oculocutaneous albinism: Partial or complete albinism from failure to create melanin. Low levels of Tyrosine my be involved in this disease.
            Tyrosinemia, Type I: Severe liver and kidney damage due to buildup of metabolites of Tyrosine. Causes excess tyrosine in the blood.
            Tyrosinemia, Type II: Corneal and skin damage, also mental retardation. Caused by lack of tyrosine transaminase enzyme required for tyrosine metabolism. Also called Richner-Hanhart syndrome. Causes excess tyrosine in the blood.
            Tyrosinemia, Type III: Mild mental retardation with or without convulsions. Caused by lack of activity of 4-hydroxyphenylpyruvate dioxygenase (HPD) enzyme. Causes excess tyrosine in the blood.
        Blood levels: Male: 4-6, Female: 2-9
        Requirement: 16 mg/kg of body weight per day
        Foods with highest concentrations: Meat, dairy, eggs as well as almonds, avocados and bananas.

"Protien and Amino Acids Requirements in Human Nutrition" WHO Technical Report series 935. World Health Organization, 2007. Web. <http://whqlibdoc.who.int/trs/WHO_TRS_935_eng.pdf>

Kennelly, Peter J and Rodwell, Victor W. "Amino Acids and Peptides." Harper's Illustrated Biochemistry. The Mcgraw-Hill Companies Inc. 28th ed.  China: McGraw-Hill, 2009. pg 14-20.

Merck Manual Online Health Handbook. "Disorders of Amino Acid Metabolism." Merck. Last Revised Feb. 2009. Web. <http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/childrens_health_issues/hereditary_metabolic_disorders/disorders_of_amino_acid_metabolism.html>.