As the building blocks of proteins, amino acids play many important roles in the body. There are about 500 known naturally occurring amino acids, but only 9 of those are termed ‘essential’. These cannot be made by the body but must be consumed in the diet. Foods containing a significant proportion of all 9 amino acids are known as ‘complete proteins’. Animal foods are rich sources, while examples of complete plant-based proteins are soya, quinoa, buckwheat and hemp seeds. In supplements, amino acids are found in tablets, capsules and protein powders.
The Igennus MindCare range consists of 3 combination supplements, with capsules containing fish oil & vitamin D3 as well as micronutrient capsules, which include carefully chosen vitamins, minerals and additional beneficial compounds, such as amino acids, to target different aspects of psychological and cognitive wellness. The following paragraphs focus on the unique amino acids added to each product.
MindCare BALANCE and L-Theanine
Identified by Japanese scientists in 1949, theanine is an amino acid that makes up about 1% of the weight of green, black and white tea. Interestingly, deliberately shading tea plants from direct sunlight, as is done for matcha tea, increases L-theanine content. It is also found in mushrooms and is thought to contribute to ‘umami’, the savoury taste. The L-enanthiomer is the form found in freshly prepared teas and some dietary supplements. This form is most often used in research, while D-theanine is less studied. L-theanine is absorbed by the small intestine and is then able to cross the blood brain barrier. It is included in a dose of 150mg per capsule in MindCare Balance, which is the equivalent amount of drinking at least 10 cups of green tea. We combine it with magnesium glycinate, which reduces tiredness and fatigue and contributes to psychological functioning as well as the normal functioning of the nervous system.
MindCare PROTECT and N-Acetyl L-cysteine
N-acetyl L-cysteine is the supplemental form of the sulphur-containing amino acid cysteine. Cysteine is considered a semi-essential amino acid because the body can produce it from other amino acids, namely methionine and serine, as long as there are adequate amounts present in the diet. Additionally, for the body to make cysteine, adequate levels of folate, vitamin B6 and B12 are needed. Animal and plant proteins, such as poultry, dairy, eggs, sunflower seeds and legumes, provide good amounts of cysteine. Along with two other amino acids, glutamine and glycine, N-acetyl cysteine replenishes glutathione, an important anti-oxidant in the body, and has been researched over decades in many health conditions. Cysteine also regulates levels of glutamate, a vital brain neurotransmitter. It is usually taken orally but can also be used topically (skin, eyes or mouth), intravenously and in inhalations. It is included in a dose of 100mg in MindCare Protect.
MindCare LIFT and 5-HTP
5-Hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, is an amino acid naturally produced by the body from the essential amino acid tryptophan. 5-HTP is not present in commonly eaten foods and can only be added to your diet through supplementation. All 5-HTP supplements are sourced from the seeds of the African shrub Griffonia simplicifolia. Some high-dose preparations are marketed in Europe as medications rather than nutritional supplements. The body uses 5-HTP to produce serotonin, a chemical messenger that sends signals between your nerve cells. As we age, natural levels of 5-HTP appear to decline. It is included in a dose of 100mg in MindCare LIFT. Due to the 5-HTP content, MindCare LIFT should not be taken together with SSRI anti-depressants, but there are no such contra-indications with the other MindCare supplements.