Amino Acid Deficiency -- Deficiency Symptoms
Amino Acid Deficiency
Amino acid deficiency can be a really terrible condition. It can affect every aspect of your life and depending on which amino acids the body is deficient in, can cause a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Before we get into amino acid deficiency symptoms and other information, let's first do a brief overview of amino acids. Amino acids have been called the building blocks of life. They help the body to produce the many tens of thousands of proteins and other compounds that it needs for daily function. There are over 20 amino acids that the body uses, and 8 that are called essential amino acids because the body can't synthesize them. They must be gotten through the diet.
Amino acids are also required to make the more complex bodily chemicals like neurotransmitters and hormones. So a deficiency in any one amino acid can cause widespread negative effects in the body. Amino acids are literally the building blocks for all the different chemicals your body needs for daily function, so being deficient in one or more can cause a deficiency in many corresponding chemicals.
General Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms
In general, if you're deficient in any particular amino acid, your body won't be able to synthesize the full range of chemicals it needs for proper function. Depending on the amino acid you're deficient in, this can have very noticeable symptoms, or not so noticeable symptoms. Some of the chemicals that the body produces aren't absolutely necessary for daily function. Things like digestive enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters like serotonin can begin to decline without a huge amount of symptoms or side effects showing up. A person might just feel off, always tired, and irritable and not know why.
So people suffering from an amino acid deficiency might also experience a corresponding deficiency in something like serotonin or digestive enzymes without really knowing it. There will definitely be some symptoms that show up, but these are difficult to pin down and very difficult to trace back to an amino acid deficiency. Amino acid therapy was once a popular treatment for a variety of ailments, but has fallen out of favor in the modern age, in lieu of prescription drugs which only mask the symptoms of ailments, rather than fix the root problems. Amino acid therapy was once one of the major treatments for depression, which you're now probably starting to see why that is. Your mood, metabolism, and many other things can all be affected by amino acid deficiency.
Specific Amino Acid Deficiency Symptoms
- Depression and Mood Issues -- Depression and mood swings are one of the most common symptoms of generalized amino acid deficiency. As we talked about in the last section, complex brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine are some of the first compounds to suffer as a result of amino acid deficiency. This can very easily alter your state of mind, your attitude, mood, and your emotions in a negative way.
- Weak Immune System -- The immune system is also one of the first systems to suffer as a result of an amino acid deficiency. Not only this, but an improper ratio of amino acids in the body can also cause a weakened immune system. This is the reason why protein is said to boost the immune system, because protein is comprised primarily of amino acids, which help to bring the immune system back to normal function.
- Inefficient Digestive System -- Without the proper amino acids, the body has a difficult time producing enough digestive enzymes and other compounds that help the body to properly digest and absorb food. This doesn't occur with just digestive enzymes either. There are two types of enzymes used by the body, digestive and metabolic. And there are multiple thousands of different enzymes. So a deficiency in one or more amino acids can cause a deficiency in the body's enzyme supply.
- Chronic Fatigue -- In the absence of amino acids, the metabolism generally slows down quite a bit in an effort to conserve resources. This manifests itself in chronic fatigue and lack of energy. This makes sense logically because when running at peak efficiency, the metabolism uses a lot more chemicals than it does when running at minimum efficiency. So in order to conserve essential compounds, the body limits the number of reactions that occur and as a result, fatigue sets in. It's very difficult to diagnose and often goes unnoticed.
Persons Especially at Risk of Amino Acid Deficiency
In general, vegetarians and vegans are especially at risk of forming an amino acid deficiency of some kind. There's a lot of misinformation about protein out there. When people read the labels of products and see something like 10g of protein per serving from a plant source, they assume that that will give them everything they need. But proteins are vastly different depending on the source. Many plant sources are very incomplete sources of protein, meaning that they don't contain a variety of amino acids, and are especially lacking in the essential amino acids that the body can't produce on its own.
If you don't consume a lot of eggs and red meat, you really ought to do some research into quality complete sources of plant protein. They can be very hard to come by, and it's tough to tell just from the label how complete the protein is in the product you're buying. 5g of complete protein can be worth far more than 10g of incomplete protein. So if you think you might be having a deficiency, do some research into some complete protein sources.