There are supposedly several different phenylalanine benefits. The supplements are claimed to treat a wide range of conditions, from ADHD to Parkinson's to alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Some of these benefits have more scientific basis than others, and all must be carefully evaluated.
What Benefits Can Phenylalanine Provide?Phenylalanine is an amino acid. It is essential for human nutrition, since the body cannot produce phenylalanine on its own. Phenylalanine supplements are sometimes claimed to be beneficial for the following conditions:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Parkinson's disease
- Chronic pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Vitiligo (a skin condition involving a loss of pigment).
Some of these reported benefits of phenylalanine may be more valid than others (see Does Phenylalanine Work? for more information), and some claims have no real scientific basis. As with many supplements, claims for the benefits of phenylalanine are sometimes exaggerated, and such claims must be evaluated critically.
Of course, as an essential amino acid, phenylalanine (especially when obtained through a balanced diet) provides nutritional benefits. It is used by the body to build proteins and is an essential part of a healthy diet. Dietary sources of phenylalanine include many different foods, such as milk, cheese, meat, and fish.
How Does Phenylalanine Work?As mentioned, phenylalanine is an amino acid important for building proteins. It is also used by the body to produce tyrosine, another important amino acid. There are two forms of phenylalanine: L-phenylalanine (the naturally occurring form) and D-phenylalanine (a different form that is not important for human nutrition). Most of the time, the word "phenylalanine" is used to mean just the L-phenylalanine form. Products may contain either or both forms (often, the term "DL-phenylalanine" is used to denote the combination of the two forms).