Proteins (amino acids)

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Proteins (amino acids)

Proteins are one of the major component of diet. Amino acids(compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen) are the building blocks of proteins. In other words we can say that different amino acids are combined with each other to develop a single (specific) protein. Quality of the protein is usually judged by their amino acids profile( its constituent amino acids). Deficiency of certain amino acids may cause depression. These amino acids can be discussed in detail as follows.


Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids ie. it can not be produced by human body. Therefore it has to be supplemented from outside. Infact dietary supplements of tryptophan are being increasingly recommended in management of psychiatric disorder (mainly depression; as well as in anxiety and insomnia). Consult your physician before taking such dietary supplements.

How does tryptophan work ?

Tryptophan finally converts into serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Thus the production of serotonin is directly related to the tryptophan concentration in blood. Since the level of certain neurotransmitters (including serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) is decreased in depression, it is only logical that increase in tryptophan intake would adequately manage depression. Rich sources of Tryptophan are sesame and sunflower seeds, cereals (excluding corn), whole grains with germs, cheese, eggs, milk, turkey fish, banana, dried dates, peanuts and soybeans.

What is the requirement of Tryptophan?

Estimate of Tryptophan requirements:

Age group Requirements (mg/kg/day)
Infants, 3-4 months 17
Children, 2 years 12.5
Children, 10-12 years 3.3
Adults 3.3


Methionine is also an essential amino acid containing sulphur.

It is converted to S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), which is known to raise the serotonin levels, thus acting as a mild antidepressant. So, intake of methionine rich products (dietary supplements) can help in treatment of depression by raising the levels of serotonin. Preferably verify the quality of dietary supplement after due medical consultation.

Cereals, whole grains with germ, sesame and sunflower seeds, corn, nuts, seed oils, peanuts, soybeans, eggs, milk and green leafy vegetables are rich in methionine.


It is not an essential amino acid but it can convert to various neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine, which are implicated in depression.