Know Your Nutrients: Methionine and Health

Methionine Survival

Methionine is one of the least common amino acids present in foods but nonetheless has an important role as an essential amino acid. It is essential for development and becomes more important for younger people such as growing children and babies. In addition it is critical to maintaining the liver’s ability to detoxify the body and itself. Does it belong in your emergency supplies?

Heavy metals and Detox

Methionine is one of three sulfur based amino acids. The sulfur contained within it is a powerful antioxidant which can reduce any free radicals in its presence. But this is not the only way it helps detox. The amino acid is also a precursor of cysteine, which in turn is an important factor to glutathione, one of the most powerful antioxidants. Glutathione is the workhorse for the liver’s detoxification of itself, and methionine plays a key role in it’s availability.

The amino acid has also proved

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to be important in preventing damage from heavy metals. Studies done with rats have shown that it protects the animals from the damage caused by lead contamination. When taken with choline and folic acid, methionine can effectively chelate many kinds of heavy metals, removing them from the blood.

In a survival situation with uncertain food sources, contamination can become a very real issue. Whether it’s from wild caught fish or food that has been stored in questionable containers, the threat of heavy metal contamination can lead to serious sickness. When there is no infrastructure to rely on, your liver is your first line of defense.

Fat buildup

Methionine is very important to liver health in more ways than one. One of the most common signs of methionine deficiency is fatty liver. Fatty liver, as the name might suggest, is caused by the buildup of fat tissue in the liver. Methionine helps the liver produce lecithin, which aids in the breakdown of cholesterol deposits located in the liver.

Development
Methionine is particularly important for pregnant women and growing children as it plays an important role in growth. Lack of the amino acid can cause neural tube defects in fetuses such as spina bifida, and has been linked to slowed growth of children. Living on a vegetarian diet is particularly risky for
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people in either of these groups, as plant based sources of protein are typically much lower in methionine.

A Word of Caution

It is possible to get too much of a good thing in this instance as methionine can be converted into homocysteine within the body. Homocysteine has been show to elevate blood pressure and to cause cardiovascular stress in general. Eating enough is critical to maintaining the health of the liver and the ability to detoxify heavy metals but not going overboard will help your heart keep ticking long past the end of the world.

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by JP Martin