The Amino Acids Section
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Aspartic acid, also known as L-aspartate, is thought to help promote a robust metabolism, and is sometimes used to treat fatigue and depression. Aspartic acid plays an important role in the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, during which other amino acids and biochemicals, such as asparagine, arginine, lysine, methionine, threonine, and isoleucine, are synthesized.
Aspartic acid gets its reputation as a treatment for chronic fatigue from the crucial role it plays in generating cellular energy. Aspartic acid moves the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) molecules from the main body of the cell to its mitochondria, where it is used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel that powers all cellular activity.
In short, the more NADH a cell has, the more chemical fuel it produces, and the more energy you have to get through your day. (Some studies have shown that aspartic acid actually increases both stamina and endurance levels in athletes.) In addition, this amino acid helps transport minerals needed to form healthy RNA and DNA to the cells, and strengthens the immune system by promoting increased production of immunoglobulins and antibodies (immune system proteins).
Aspartic acid keeps your mind sharp by increasing concentrations of NADH in the brain, which is thought to boost the production of neurotransmitters and chemicals needed for normal mental functioning. It also removes excess toxins from the cells, particularly ammonia, which is very damaging to the brain and nervous system as well as the liver.
Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body is able to manufacture its own supply. It is also found in dairy, beef, poultry, sugar cane and molasses (the artificial sweetener aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalaline, another amino acid). People with diets low in protein or with eating disorders or malnutrition may develop a deficiency, not only in aspartic acid, but in other amino acids as well, and experience extreme fatigue or depression.
Serious athletes may need to take an amino acid supplement as well—aspartic acid can be found in protein supplements such as amino acid tablets and whey protein powder drinks/bars, and are often marketed as energy boosters. They are generally available at most drugstores and health food stores, or at your local gym or health club.
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