Methionine is an essential amino acid, vital for human health. Your body cannot produce essential amino acids on its own, therefore, you must obtain them through the food in your diet or through dietary supplements. Amino acids are most well known for their role in creating proteins. Some studies suggest however, that methionine has additional beneficial roles, creating several other important molecules. We’re going to talk more about what methionine is, how it works, and the benefits.
Methionine is one of the nine essential amino acid and the only sulfur containing one that serves as a precursor for all other sulfur-containing amino acids and their derivatives. Although it seems unfair to be deemed as “unessential” essential amino acids, are those that your body cannot produce on its own.
Methionine participates in a wide range of other metabolic reactions in addition to creating protein and its role in muscle protein synthesis, including the production of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), l-cysteine, glutathione, taurine, sulfate, phospholipids, and in the formation of creatine and carnitine.
Methionine can be converted into cysteine, a semi-essential amino acid and a precursor for glutathione an important antioxidant.
Methionine and cysteine are classified as sulfur-containing protein-bound amino acids (SAAs). Except for the need for proper protein synthesis, both have a number of physiological and biochemical functions.
Research suggests that methionine supplementation affects metabolism and reduces tumor aggressiveness in liver cancer cells, as well as induces the activation of both the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and mTOR pathways. High methionine concentration is shown to impair and inhibit cell growth, cell migration, and colony formation. Therefore, inhibition of AMPK combined with methionine supplementation, is theorized to reduce liver cancer progression [R].
A meta-analysis published in PLos One examined the effects of methionine and colon cancer. Conclusive evidence suggested that dietary methionine may reduce the risk of colon cancer, due to methionine’s role in producing S-adenosyl the active form of methionine [R].
Methionine has been shown to have analgesic benefits. A review published in the journal Pancreatology, identified eight studies containing 411 patients with chronic pancreatitis with a study duration between 10 weeks and 12 months. All studies used methionine-containing antioxidants, organic selenium, ascorbate, beta-carotene and alpha-tocoferol.
The results indicated that methionine had a statistically significant effect on pain reduction in CP patients [R].
In the liver, methionine is adenosylated and is then converted to s-adenosyl methionine (SAM). SAM is then converted to a compound called s-adenosyl homocysteine (SAH) [R].
S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), the active form of methionine, acts as a methyl donor and is involved in many metabolic pathways. It has beta adrenergic and dopamine receptor agonist activity which is critical to heart function.
An open trial using SAM showed that 75% of enrolled patients improved symptoms with methionine treatment of ADHD. Although this study showed improvement, it was an open trial, with no control group, and a very small sample size only 8 patients [R].
Methionine is an essential, sulfur containing amino acid, which not only aids in protein creation, but assists in creating several critical compounds like creatine, carnitine, l-cysteine, glutathione, and taurine. Methionine is easily accessible in protein dense foods. Supplementing an essential amino acid (EAA) supplement is also another great way to deliver the muscle building effects associated with EAAs for better athletic performance and human health.
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