What is asparagine?
Find out more about aspartic acid here
Asparagine was the first amino acid to be isolated from its natural source, which is asparagus. It is a non essential amino acid. This means the body can produce it without you needing to include it in your diet.
It is closely related to aspartic acid (also known as aspartate). Asparagine is the beta-amido derivative of aspartic acid. This term describes the structure of the amino acid.
In the process of forming asparagine, the acidic side chain carboxyl group in aspartic acid is coupled with ammonia . This reaction happens due to an enzyme called asparagine synthetase:
Asparagine synthesis in the human body
Asparagine has many uses in the body. It has a vital role in protein synthesis. Additionally, it is important in the formation of other amino acids.
This amino acid also helps to form other chemicals that take part in the Krebs cycle (also called the citric acid cycle). This is a series of reactions in which aerobic organisms release energy.
By having more asparagine available, the Krebs cycle can take place more efficiently. Therefore taking supplements which contain this amino acid can lead to an improvement in athletic performance. This is because it takes a longer amount of time before you become fatigued, and research studies have supported this finding, .
Brain and nervous system
Asparagine also helps to control the metabolic processes in the brain. It has a similar role in the nervous system, where it ensures that the system functions effectively.
Dietary sources and supplements
To supplement your natural asparagine levels, there are some foods rich in the amino acid which you can try. These include poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, meat, nuts, seafood, seeds, and potatoes.
There are also many asparagine supplements available on the market, and these can come as part of protein powders mixed with other supplements. These are generally safe to use provided you do not have any other medical conditions and you follow the dosage specified by the manufacturer. However if you are unsure whether the supplements are safe for you, it is best to check with your doctor.
The following is a list of some of the possible side-effects that may occur when using preparations that contain this amino acid. These side-effects are possible, but do not always occur. Speak to your GP if you experience any of the following side-effects, especially if they do not go away.
- Abdominal cramps
A recent study has linked this amino acid to the spread of breast cancer. However this hypothesis needs to be verified:
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