Know Your Nutrients: Threonine

Threonine survival

Skin and Bone Health

Threonine is a precursor of two very important amino acids, serine and glycine. Both of these are necessary for the creation and maintenance of collagen and elastin. Collagen is the primary protein found in skin and bones and elastin, as the name implies, is responsible for the elastic properties of skin.

If it weren’t for elastin, skin would not be able to return to it’s original shape after being moved. On a more serious note, it is critical for the elasticity of the cardiovascular system. Without elastin, the elasticity of blood vessels and even the heart could be compromised.

Digestive health and beyond

Another tissue that is dependent on threonine is the small intestines. In addition to being dependent on elasticity, threonine has been shown to play a role in the production of mucus cells within the digestive tract. Studies on animals fed threonine deficient diets showed lower growth of the intestines, liver and muscle tissue.

Without enough mucus,

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conditions such as leaky gut can develop. This has been a topic of great interest in the scientific community recently. When the guy is anything else than airtight, partially digested food and septic materials can leach into the bloodstream.


These can be highly inflammatory and affect tissues throughout the body. A recent buzz word due to the potential connection with problems of the brain is the gut-brain axis. Protect your threonine supply and you protect your gut.

An interesting side note: the amino acid has been described as an essential supplement for mental health disorders. Coincidence?

Fat metabolism

Along with methionine, threonine plays an important role in the metabolism of fatty acids. This is of critical importance to anyone who plans to take advantage of the many benefits of a low carb diet. In order to eat low carb, a high volume of calories must

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come from fat. The two amino acids are required to break these fats down into fatty acids which can be used by tissues in the body.

Without threonine, there is the serious consequence of fatty liver to deal with. Lacking the ability to properly metabolize fat, it will build up in the liver which causes serious problems in function. The condition is also seen in alcoholics and diabetics and can progress to life threatening cirrohsis if not treated.

So, even those on high carb or standard American diets are in need of threonine. High carb diets encouraging diabetes will cause many of these problems. 75% of obese people have been observed to have fatty liver.

Symptoms are mild at first but run the gamut from fatigue to nausea to confusion and impaired thinking. These are all serious consequences in a survival situation and could be potentially life threatening.

In order to protect your skin, digestive health and liver, threonine should be considered among your emergency supplies. It is found in most animal sources of protein in an absorbable form, people on vegan diets are often deficient. No matter how many grams you can supposedly find in soy they are more difficult to absorb than animal sources.


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by JP Martin