Phenylalanine is a type of amino acid found in breast milk of mammals, meat and eggs. It is classified as an essential amino acid because the body needs it to make proteins and thyroid hormones among other substances. It is first converted into another type of amino acid known as tyrosine before it is used to make brain chemicals, proteins, L-dopa, epinephrine and thyroid hormones.

Uses of Phynylalanine

Since tyrosine is used to make norepinephrine, which is known to affect mood, different variations of Phenylalanine are used to treat depression. Phenylalanine deficiency symptoms in the body include lack of energy, depression, decreased alertness, lack of appetite, memory problems and confusion among other symptoms. Some research studies on the possible uses of Phynylalanine have produced results indicating that the amino acid can be used to treat vitiligo, Parkinson's, chronic pain and depression among others illnesses. More research needs to be carried out before these treatments can be approved by the FDA.

Potential Health Effects

While Phynylalanine may be an essential amino acid, it can also cause some serious health complications when used by people who have anxiety disorder, dyskinesia, sleep disorder and many other mental health conditions. Taking foods or medications containing aspartame, an artificial sweetener that contains Phynylalanine, can cause serious problems especially in people who have dyskinesia among other health problems mentioned above. Phenylketonuria or PKU is a genetic disorder that affects people whose bodies cannot secrete the enzyme that helps the body to use Phynylalanine. People who have PKU should never use aspartame or any other product that contains Phynylalanine. Doing so will only lead to accumulation of the substance in the brain. This can cause severe mental retardation.

Federal Regulations

Federal rules and regulations require manufacturers to print the warning, "Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine," on every product that contains Phynylalanine in any form. This is meant to protect people who have PKU from using the product accidentally.

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