Phenylalanine: An Amino Acid Essential for Both Your Physical and Mental Well-Being
Phenylalanine is one of the four essential amino acids that are difficult to get from a vegetarian and vegan diet. Why should it matter? It relieves depression, elevates mood, decreases pain, boosts memory, and suppresses your appetite. Like tryptophan and methionine, it’s a quality of life amino acid.
There are three forms of phenylalanine: D–phenylalanine, which is made in the laboratory, L–phenylalanine, the natural form that’s found in protein, and DL-phenylalanine, which is a combination of the other two forms.
Weight Loss Benefits
Phenylalanine controls the release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). This hormone tells the brain that you’re satisfied after you eat. If you’re trying to lose some weight, incorporate more foods that have this essential amino acid into your diet. You might feel more satisfied after eating less.
Quality of Life Benefits
Your body converts phenylalanine into the amino acid tyrosine, which then gets transformed into the neurotransmitters norepinephrine that improves your mood. Since norepinephrine affects mood, phenylalanine has been suggested to treat depression.
D–phenylalanine is sometimes prescribed to treat chronic pain, but there aren’t any studies that prove it works.
Vegetarian and Vegan Food Sources
The best vegetarian and vegan food sources are almonds, avocado, bananas, brewer’s yeast, cheese, corn, cottage cheese, lima beans, nuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, whole grains, soybeans, pecans, chickpeas, and lentils.
For vegetarians, all of the above sources, plus eggs and dairy products are great sources.
Symptoms of Deficiency
Deficiency symptoms include confusion, lack of energy, depression, decreased alertness, memory problems, and lack of appetite.
Kalorama Information, “Wellness Market Opportunities in the Aging American Population,”
Anti–Aging Physicians Directory and Research Guide
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Disclaimer: The information on this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace your healthcare professional or provide diagnosis or treatment.