Amino Acid Science

Amino Acids and Disease

Nutrients are required to drive the basic physiological activities that sustain life. All innate cellular functions, defenses, and repair systems require a continuous supply of nutrients provided by nutrient reserves to make up the shortfall as dietary intakes fluctuate due to disease and other external causes. Among the critical nutrient-dependent cellular defenses are free radical and cellular antioxidant enzymes, acute inflammatory responses, phagocytic and bactericidal activity, lymphocyte activation and proliferation, humoral and cell-mediated immunity, and the initiation and promotion of the coagulation cascade. Additional defensive roles supported by nutrients involve protein synthesis, reversal and repair of DNA and chromosomal damage, integrity of immune cell structure and function, and a whole host of other activities at the molecular level.

If nutrient intakes are not sufficient to adequately support these basic physiological activities, adaptive mechanisms are triggered to conserve the available nutrient supply. Among these mechanisms are increased efficiency of intestinal absorption, enhanced renal re-absorption, adjustment of metabolic rate, and a compensatory shift to ancillary pathways that minimize nutrient demand. Although effective as temporary corrective measures, these adaptive responses become maladaptive over time if demand is not addressed.

Nutrient requirements in the presence of disease are considerably higher than those that are required during times of health. These requirements can increase incrementally by as much as 10 to more than 100 times the usual amounts. At these levels of intake, the roles for most nutrients are expanded to include functions that are not typically observed during times of normal physiologic need. The use of nutrients by the body’s systems in the presence of disease support the accelerated rate of metabolic activity that cellular systems demand in order to reduce the potential for permanent damage from the pathophysiological processes associated with the disease.