Protein is a prime nutrient that can help us big time during menopause. This food group is rich in essential amino acids, which give us energy for everyday activities.
Here’s a fun fact – our body is 75% protein! Proteins are rich in amino acids, so why need more? The answer is simple; we can’t produce essential amino acids on our own.
Luckily, we can get them from many food sources! For adults, we need 60 grams of protein daily so we can meet our amino acid requirements. Let’s look into essential amino acids more, the best ones for menopause, and where to get them!
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the foundation of our proteins. They form chains that pull tissues together, forming organs and systems. Amino acids are the reason we can move and enjoy activities every day.
We have a total of 21 amino acids, and 9 of them are essential amino acids. The body is incapable of producing essential amino acids, so we need to get them from our diet.
Essential amino acids serve many functions in the body. For this reason, we have to eat a well-balanced diet daily to supply our body with healthy amounts of amino acids. Besides muscle development and formation, amino acids also function to:
- Repair damaged muscles and tissues
- Promote growth and development of organs
- Increase fat burning
- Boost metabolism and energy
- Controls cell growth and multiplication
Dr. Berg explains more about what amino acids are in this video (4:34):
9 Reasons Why We Need Essential Amino Acids in Menopause!
Essential amino acids can make a huge difference in menopause. Read these 9 health benefits and know why you need it more than ever!
- Relieves hot flashes. Essential amino acids keep our blood vessels healthy for good flow. When blood flow is smooth, the body can produce nitric oxide. This is a chemical that relaxes our blood vessels and eases hot flashes. Experts say that taking essential amino acids in combination with isoflavones (plant-derived estrogen) may reduce hot flashes in menopause.
- Aids in weight control. Amino acids synthesize and burns fats fast! They also support better metabolism, making it easier to manage our weight. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle balances hormones and prevents weight gain.
- Improves cognitive function. Aside from better blood flow to the brain, essential amino acids also repair brain cells. As a result, memory and concentration improves. This prevents brain fog, which is common in menopause.
- Prevents fatigue. Amino acids keep us energized and on the go! They store glycogen, which is the main source of our energy.
- Keeps hair, nail and skin healthy. Essential amino acids boost the production of collagen and keratin. These are proteins that keep your skin, hair and nails healthy!
- Lifts up mood. Essential amino acids is a component forming many hormones. An example are your happy hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin calms the central nervous system so it can ease mood swings, anxiety and depression.
- Stress buster. Some essential amino acids promote mind and body relaxation. They can also calm the central nervous system, toning down our stress response.
- Improves communication pathways. Neurotransmitters are tiny messengers in our body. They feed on essential amino acids to function well. Neurotransmitters give instructions to our glands to produce hormones. They also send messages to our organs to accept hormones so they can carry out specific functions.
- Reduces the risk of osteoporosis. Low estrogen during menopause reduces calcium absorption and increases bone break down. But with the help of essential amino acids, we can increase calcium absorption again. They also stimulate the formation of bones and strengthens them. As a result, we lower the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
What Are Best Essential Amino Acids Used in Menopause?
Essential amino acids are helpful in maintaining health and wellness. But there are special ones that can make menopause easier! Here’s a roundup of essential amino acids that help us manage menopause symptoms better.
Carnitine is the “amino acid created by another amino acid”. It comes from both lysine and methionine. We’ve heard about this amino acid many times. It’s an ingredient in many weight loss products and supplements.
And it’s true! Carnitine helps you lose weight because it burns fats faster and boosts metabolism. Together with diet and exercise, Carnitine is great for preventing weight gain.
Our body sees menopause as a stressor. Stress stimulates the release of cortisol which has many effects in the body. For example, it slows down blood flow going to our glands, redirecting them to major organs.
When our glands lack nourishment, hormone production also decreases. Arginine fights for small organs like our glands. It boosts better blood flow and nutrient distribution going to our glands.
In addition, Arginine also increases energy, balances blood pressure, strengthens immunity and lowers cholesterol. It also increases libido!
Tyrosine is the “mother” amino acid for many neurohormones. Examples of neurohormones are dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. Tyrosine is also a nootropic and an adaptogen. These properties make it an effective stress reliever, hormone balancer and fatigue buster!
Lysine is an amino acid that can bind with serotonin, allowing it to act as a happy hormone in the body. In addition to this incredible function, Lysine helps the body absorb more calcium. It also promotes bone formation! As a result, it decreases the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis. Lysine is also a good blood sugar regulator which helps reduce risk of diabetes.
Common Causes of Amino Acid Deficiency
Amino acid deficiency is common in this modern age. We don’t often hear about it, but it can also cause a cascade of pretty uncomfortable symptoms. On top of this, our body doesn’t store amino acids as it does with fats and carbs.
But why does a deficiency happen? Check out these common causes!
- Eating the wrong kinds of food. Poor diet is on top of the list in the causes of amino acid deficiency. Eating too much sugar, carbs and bad fats can hinder our enzymes that break down protein to amino acids.
- Unhealthy gut. Processed food damages the lining of our gut, responsible for absorbing amino acids. Poor gut health means poor digestion and improper nutrient absorption. Low acids in our stomach may also cause a deficiency. It stops proper protein breakdown and amino acid absorption.
- Unstable blood sugar levels. An imbalance in your blood sugar level stimulates the release of cortisol. Cortisol prevents the release of enzymes that breaks down proteins for amino acids.
- Adrenal exhaustion. Our adrenal glands are our shock absorbers. When under stress, our adrenals produce adrenaline. This hormone activates our body to respond to situations. But when we are under chronic stress, our adrenals get tired and cortisol goes haywire. When cortisol is offset, it slows down hormone and enzyme production.
Aging also contributes to low amino acids. Stomach acids go down as we age and nutrient absorption becomes poor. Overuse of antacids can also harm our gut, which may lead to a deficiency.
Signs and Symptoms of Amino Acid Deficiency
Most signs and symptoms of amino acid deficiency are common in many conditions. For this reason, amino acid deficiency is hard to notice. But you can watch out for these rare classic signs. They’ll tell you that it might be a problem with your essential amino acids!
- Sluggish metabolism
- Muscle wasting or loss of muscle mass
- Persistent muscle fatigue
- Anxiety and moodiness
- Low endurance and stamina
- Increased appetite and craving for sweets
- Irregular periods
- Slow muscle healing
Dr. Josh Axe talks about the 9 symptoms of protein deficiency, and also the best foods that you can consume more to maintain amino acid balance in his article.
Specific amino acid deficiency may also have different symptoms.
5 Best Sources of Essential Amino Acids!
Even though many food sources have amino acids, there are food groups that have higher content. Check out some of them and include them in your daily diet!
- Plant-based proteins. We can get all the amino acids that we need from beans, hemp, quinoa, and nuts. Eating a wide range of veggies and fruits may also help, even if they don’t have complete amino acids. Some of them include spinach, kale and broccoli.
- Consume more eggs. Eggs are rich sources of protein and complete amino acids. The egg white and yolk contain all nine essential amino acids. In addition, eggs also have high vitamin B2 and B12 content. Vitamin B2 maintains heart health and B12 is helpful in hormone production.
- Grass-fed and organic meat proteins. 100% grass-fed lean beef is rich in amino acids, organic chicken, turkey and wild caught salmon is also abundant in protein.
- Whey protein. Grass-fed dairy, cold-processed and non-denatured whey protein have high amounts of branched chain amino acids which can boost your levels.
- Bone broth. Aside from its ability to give you amino acids, bone broth also heals the gut, which allows us to absorb amino acids more. It also speeds up collagen and glutamine, two of the most important amino acids in our body.
We all have different protein or amino acid needs. Besides our nutritional needs, weight, age and gender are some factors to consider too. The recommended daily protein intake to maintain amino acids is 56 per grams for men and 46 grams for women.
It’s also good to check your amino acid levels using amino acid testing. The Organic Acid Test (OAT) and the Spectracell Fia Micronutrient Blood Test can measure amino acid levels. You can read more about them in our menopause test article.
More About Essential Amino Acids!
Do you know that there are three types of essential amino acids? Check out their differences and the best food sources for every type!
- Essential amino acids. A type of amino acid that the body can’t produce. There are nine essential amino acids: valine, histidine, tryptophan, isoleucine, lysine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine and threonine.
- Non-essential amino acids. Natural or endogenous amino acids which are the main components of protein. The body produces non-essential amino acids, but we can also get them from dietary sources such as the ones we shared above. Examples of amino acids in this group include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid.
- Conditional amino acids. Amino acids which the body doesn’t need every day, but are essential in times of stress or illness. This group includes arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline and serine.
With everything essential amino acids can do for the body, there’s no doubt that they can help us during menopause. To have a healthier menopause journey, be sure to eat a balanced diet rich in amino acids or supplement if needed!
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