Headaches, Other Side Effects from Supplements with Phenylalanine?

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Capt Ann, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Capt Ann

    Capt Ann Valued Member

    Almost every protein supplement or pre/post workout beverage I've seen contains phenylalanine. While this is an essentail amino acid, and occurs naturally, I am curious if anyone has experienced any strange reactions, especially headaches, confusion/dizziness, muscle aches/pains, or cramps, after consuming a supplement containing it.

    Here's why: Phenylalinine occurs in two isomers (forms of the same chemical make-up, but reversed order of the atoms in it). Natural phenylalinine from meat, eggs, etc. is only found as L-phenylalinine ('left-handed' molecule). Man-made phenylalinine is formed as a mix of L-phenylalinine and D-phenylalinine (both left- and right-handed molecules). The body breaks these two forms down differently.

    There is a not-uncommon genetic condition called phenylketonuria (PKU), in which some individuals cannot digest phenylalinine, and instead break it down into harmful bi-products, resulting in mental retardation, seizures, and sometimes death. In the US, infants are tested at birth for PKU.

    If an inability to digest phenylalanine can cause such problems, it makes sense that a limited ability to digest it, or an overload (injesting too much) could cause related problems. Although the research is debateable, many studies have shown a dramatic increase in brain tumors with use of Nutra-Sweet (R) (a combination of phenylalinine and aspartic acid), as well as secondary symptons, such as headaches, memory loss, etc.

    So, how 'bout it? Anyone notice any side effects? And does your supplement contain naturally-occurring phenylalanine (L-phenylalanine only), or a synthetic phenylalanine (mix of L-phenylalanine and more harmful D-phenylalanine)?

    I've been looking at using a protein supplement post-workout, and the only thing that keeps me from using most is this one issue. Please give me your thoughts and personal experience.

    More info on phenylalanine:
    Wikipedia entry
  2. Dae Han

    Dae Han New Member

    personally I have never seen phenylalanine in protein supplements. I usually come across it in carb drinks etc. Im not saying you are wrong, I've just never come across it.
    There is a condition where individuals can be intolerant to phenylalanine I think it's called Phenylketonuric.

    Google phenylalanine for some interesting topics
  3. Ad McG

    Ad McG Troll-killer Supporter

    Did you even read his post?

    How can you put it down to just phenylalanine? It could be any number of reasons.
  4. Unisonus

    Unisonus Bloody Rare, Please

    I am not a doctor, but I don't think that you have phenylketonuria - unless you regularly experience these symptoms when you consume foods high in protein (e.g. meats, dairy, fish and nuts). All these foods contain significant amounts of phenylalanine. Phenylketonuria would impair your ability to process either kind of phenylalanine. Like Adam said, your symptoms could be imputed to a number of causes (e.g. post-workout stress, endorphin production, low sugar...). But to be on the safe side, I'd report them to a doctor when I went for my next check-up.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2006
  5. Capt Ann

    Capt Ann Valued Member

    No one could know for sure that phenylalanine's the single cause.

    But for sake of argument, for you guys that use supplements all the time, I just want to know:
    1. Does your pre/post workout supplement contain phenylalanine?
    2. If so, have you noticed any 'weird' symptons like headaches, dizziness, cramps, blurred vision when you regularly use it?
  6. CosmicFish

    CosmicFish Aleprechaunist

    I'm using myprotein's Whey Concentrate:

    Amino profile:

    I've been using it for about a month and have noticed none of the symptoms you describe. It's hard to judge exactly how much I'm taking per day, but assuming one of my scoops is ~25g I'd say it's between 50-100g.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Capt Ann

    Capt Ann Valued Member

    Yes, CF, that's exactly the kind of info I'm looking for, thanks!

    Anyone else?
  8. Maverick

    Maverick New Member

    No wierd symptoms here either, used Dymatize Elite whey, Reflex PROGEN MRP, wheyconsortium whey and myprotein whey.
  9. redsandpalm

    redsandpalm shut your beautiful face

    My PWO drink has 3g of L-phenylalanine per serving. No problems to report.
  10. Ad McG

    Ad McG Troll-killer Supporter

    I drunk plenty of protein drinks before, a lot of myprotein ones and zero bad effects other than windy-pops! :)
  11. CosmicFish

    CosmicFish Aleprechaunist

    ^ That's not a bad effect, that's a bonus. :D

    *ahem* sorry Capt Ann, back on topic now. :Angel:

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