What is DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA)?
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that the body needs to synthesize proteins and neurotransmitters that are critical for the central nervous system to function properly. DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) is a 50/50 mixture of the synthetic D- form made in a laboratory and the L- form of this amino acid that occurs naturally in proteins. Phenylalanine is one of the few amino acids that can be utilized in its D- form. Because DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) contains 50% L-phenylalanine and 50% D-phenylalanine, it possesses some of the effects of both forms.
D-phenylalanine and L-phenylalanine are enantiomers of phenylalanine, meaning they are mirror images of each other. They can’t be superimposed simply by reorienting them, much like human hands appear nearly identical but as a reversed reflection. D-phenylalanine converts into tyrosine, which can then convert into three neurotransmitters: L-dopa, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. L-Dopa is the precursor to dopamine. L-phenylalanine converts into tyrosine, which helps synthesize dopamine and norepinephrine.
Potential DLPA Supplement Benefits
DLPA Supplement and Mood
Many individuals take DLPA supplements to improve their moods due to both d- and l-phenylalanine’s roles in dopamine production. Low dopamine levels often correlate with low moods and mood disorders. Many refer to dopamine as the ‘feel good’ hormone as it drives reward-motivated behaviors. The brain triggers a dopamine release to induce feelings of pleasure when it anticipates a reward. Human clinical trials noted that DLPA supplements significantly improved participants’ moods.
DLPA Supplement and Pain Management
DLPA supplements may have natural analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. D-phenylalanine blocks enkephalinase enzymes that metabolize opioid peptides like endorphins. Endorphins act as natural painkillers, and the body produces them to block pain signals. Endorphins may induce feelings of euphoria in some individuals. DLPA supplements may provide better pain management by inhibiting the degradation of endorphins.
DLPA Supplements and Weight Loss
DLPA supplements may support weight loss efforts in several ways. Research shows that phenylalanine induces full-body fat oxidation when taken before a workout. It also improves feelings of satiety and fullness. As a result, participants experienced a reduction in energy (food) intake while taking phenylalanine supplements.
Potential DLPA Supplement Side Effects
Based on human studies, most individuals can take DLPA supplements without experiencing side effects. Large doses may cause nausea. Individuals taking L-DOPA medications should not take DLPA supplements, as they may interact poorly. Individuals with phenylketonuria (PKU) should not take DLPA supplements as their bodies cannot process phenylalanine properly.
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