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Amino Acids Beneficial in Promoting Energy in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Patients

  [ 113 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • April 9, 2003

Amino acids form the fundamental building blocks of protein and muscle in the body. They synthesize neurotransmitters in the brain and help maintain normal blood circulation, bone strength, and healthy vital organs. They are some of the most important nutrients your body needs to maintain health and vitality.

Research on Amino Acids

Studies have indicated amino acids may be beneficial in promoting improved energy levels in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients. An open trial published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition1 measured plasma amino acid levels in 25 CFS subjects (16 women and 9 men, ages 23 to 56). Subjects were administered 15 grams of a free-form amino acid mixture containing eight essential amino acids and two semi-essential pharmaceutical grade free-form amino acids, for three months. Five subjects dropped out of the trial, of which two noticed no effect, two developed gastrointestinal distress, and one had a complete relapse of symptoms after two months of modest improvement.

The 20 subjects who completed the trial period and the post-trial questionnaire regarding symptoms showed 75% (15) experienced a 50-100% improvement, while 15% (3) had a 25-50% improvement, and 10% (2) had no improvement. Of those with the greatest positive response, energy levels were reported to increase within two weeks. The most commonly reported improvement was in mental function, with subjects reporting a greatly enhanced ability to concentrate. After the trial, 90% of these subjects continued to take amino acids, reporting a decrease in energy and recurrence of other symptoms when the supplementation was stopped.

Two Categories of Amino Acids

Amino acids can be separated into two nutritional categories, known as the essential and non-essential amino acids. Non-essential refers to the body’s ability to produce an amino acid by itself. There are eleven non-essential amino acids that can be manufactured by the body. Non-essential amino acids perform vital functions; the term simply indicates that the body can obtain these nutrients by means other than the diet. There are nine other amino acids that cannot be manufactured in the body and must come from diet or supplementation. These nine amino acids are known as the essential amino acids.

--Non-Essential Amino Acids: Manufactured by the Body

Arginine, Alanine, Aspartic Acid, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Histidine, Ornithine, Proline, Serine, Taurine, Tyrosine

--Essential Amino Acids: Obtained through Diet or Supplementation

Cysteine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine


1. Bralley, J.A., Lord, R.S. “Chronic Fatigue & Amino Acids.” Journal of Applied Nutrition, 46(3): 74-78(1994).

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