Serine is an ɑ-amino acid which is used in proteins biosynthesis and contains a carboxyl group (which is in the deprotonated –COO− form in physiological conditions), α-amino group (which is in the protonated −NH+3 form under biological conditions) and a side chain which consists of a hydroxymethyl group classified as a polar amino acid. It could be synthesized in human body under normal physiological circumstances which makes it a nonessential amino acid. It is encoded by codons UCC, UCU, UCG, UCA, AGC and AGU.
Serine is obtained by hydrolysis of most common proteins constituting 5 to 10 percent by weight of total product. In 1865, it was first isolated from sericin which is a silk protein. Serine is one of various so-called nonessential amino acids for mammals that mean it could be synthesized from glucose and does not require dietary sources. Serine and its derivatives are imperative components of class of lipids found in biological membranes. Serine is a crucial component of phospholipids and involve in biosynthesis of purines and pyrimidines as well as amino acids such as glycine and cysteine.
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Health Benefits of Serine
Let’s discuss on health benefits of Serine:
- Enhance cognition
Nerves are assured in special layer known as myelin sheath. Serine is essential for forming and maintaining the sheath. Insufficient supply of serine damages this protective layer. It lowers efficiency and disrupts signaling between nerve ending in body and brain. This short circuits mental function and lowers cognitive ability. Moreover, serine affects serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is an essential neurotransmitter which regulates mood. Chemical is formed from an amino acid known as tryptophan. In an absence of serine, body becomes unable to form tryptophan. Yet this lowers serotonin amount being produced. Low level of tryptophan or serotonin is associated to depression, insomnia, panic attacks, anxiety and confusion. Research shows that serine is helpful for treating some mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and depression.
- Treat Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder which affects many people. Patients experience diffuse tenderness, cognitive disturbance, widespread pain and fatigue. An exact cause of fibromyalgia is still unknown but people with this health condition have low serine level in blood in comparison to healthy people. More research is still required to be conducted to discover the role of serine.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease affecting nervous system. This health condition causes muscle inflammation and pain within brain and spinal cord. It shows other common symptoms such as nausea, neurocognitive problems, blood pressure and weight change and insomnia. People with chronic fatigue syndrome have low level of l-serine.
- Growth of muscles
Serine promotes the ability of body for absorbing another chemical known as creatine which is well known among bodybuilders and other athletes which participate in resistance training. Creatine assist in building muscle mass and supports healthy functions of muscles which makes it vital for cardiovascular function.
- Digestive health
Similar to non-essential amino acid named cysteine, Serine helps an enzyme assemble its reaction which appear in active sites such as trypsin (produced in pancreas as inactive protease trypsinogen) and chymotrypsin (a basic digestive enzyme component of pancreatic juice).
- Strengthen immunity
It is well-known for assisting the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies for healthy immune system and also helping to absorb creatine which builds and maintain muscles.
- Lowers anxiety
It could increase dopamine levels which is a calming neurotransmitter so it promotes mood and lowers depression levels and anxiety. Anxiety could affect the way one feel, think and also the way of living life. It is also estimated that 10% of teenagers and 40% of adults suffer from anxiety disorder.
- Treat insomnia
Serine is a precursor for production of amino acids such as glycine, cysteine and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which is commonly used to combat premenstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety and insomnia. Sleep is essential for well-being and helps to manage stress and eat better. Overall health is associated with sleep quality.
Deficiency of serine causes reduced or delayed cognitive and physical skills, congenital microcephaly and seizures. These deficiencies come from neurometabolic diseases and defects in biosynthesis of this essential amino acid. At the time of illness and other periods of physical stress, formation of this amino acid could decline and its supplementation become essential.
Usual doses of Serine range from 500 mg to 600 mg/kg per day.
Side effects of serine
Excess supplements of serine could be toxic to nerve cells. It is recommended not to use supplements during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it lacks enough studies about its safety.