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Autism Coach

Amino Acids

Amino acids, the building blocks of the proteins and intermediates in metabolic processes throughout the body, are being used more frequently as supplements in autism nutrition intervention protocols.  Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids used by the body.  


The above picture shows how chains of amino acids are strung together to make a protein in the body.

Nutritional testing is revealing that many individuals within the autism spectrum are deficient in specific amino acids.  Skewed metabolic pathways in autism due to chronic infection and inflammation are impairing the ability of the body's ratio of amino acids, producing too many of some amino acids, and not enough of others.

Supplementing with amino acids helps to provide these building blocks to support optimal development throughout the body and brain.  They are available directly in their pure form and also occur in naturally absorbable forms in some foods and supplements such as Chlorella.  Anecdotally, many parents are observing significant improvements in their chldren when supplement with the right blend of amino acids.

Amino acids that individuals within the autism spectrum typically benefit from include Carnitine, Creatine, Glycine, Inosine, Histidine (contained in Carnosine), Methionine, and Taurine.  Some of these amino acids, such as Glycine acts as a calming neurotransmitters.  Histidine is anti-inflammatory.  Creatine and Methionine support methylation and sulfation cycles that promote detoxification and neurological growth. Inosine can help reduce OCD symptoms.  

Amino acids that many individuals within the spectrum should avoid because they can act as neuro-toxins in excessive amounts include Aspartic Acid. Glutamic Acid, Phenylalanine. Glutamine is often deficient but can convert to Glutamic acid and so should be used with caution.  Aspartic acid is most notably found in the aspartame in diet drinks - aspartame has been shown by research to be a neurotoxin - so don't drink diet drinks!

Every person is unique biochemically and so it is best to test for these levels of amino acids.  (This can be done through comprehensive testing suite called the Nutra-Eval offered by Genova Diagnostics .  This comprehensive analysis provides tons of useful information and must be ordered by a medical practitioner but is generally very affordable - in 2013 it was under $200 if your medical practitioner participates in their pay-assure program). 

For a more comprehensive article on amino acids, please click here.

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