When you think of amino acids, threonine is rarely the first thing that comes to mind. Threonine is one of the nine essential amino acids and helps produce the other amino acids glycine and serine. Research has shown that threonine may benefit several biological events, promoting better sleep, gut health, and muscle contractions. We will discuss threonine in more detail, how it works, and the role it plays in your body.
What is threonine
Threonine is an essential amino acid. There are twenty amino acids total, nine of which are considered essential, and the rest are either non-essential or conditionally.
Amino acids are the building blocks that the body uses to make proteins. “Essential” amino acids are those that the body cannot make on its own and must be obtained from dietary sources or supplements.
Threonine acts as a substrate for protein synthesis in particular, mucins. Mucins are the most abundant macromolecules in mucus and are responsible for its biochemical and biophysical properties. In addition, threonine can enter the catabolic pathway, where it can be metabolized to a variety of important products (glycine, acetyl-CoA, pyruvate) that play an important role in host metabolism. [R].
Additional research shows that threonine can promote growth and enhance protein synthesis in skeletal muscle. Threonine not only acts as a precursor for protein synthesis but also as a signaling molecule that can regulate the pathway of protein synthesis [R].
Essential amino acids are closely related to the metabolism of fats. Threonine deficiency has been shown to affect lipid metabolism, triglyceride synthesis, and lipid oxidation.
1. It may improve muscle contractions
Threonine has been used for a wide range of conditions, most of them related to muscle or spasticity control. Threonine has also been investigated as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, inherited disorders characterized by weakness and stiffness in the legs (familial spastic paraplegia, or FSP), and Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS). More evidence is needed to support the use of threonine as a therapeutic treatment for these disorders [R].
A review conducted at the University of Queensland found that using threonine in a multidisciplinary treatment protocol, may help in a potential treatment for ALS. Threonine is a precursor of glycine and can increase glycine levels in the central nervous system. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study using oral L-threonine for spinal spasticity found a modest anticonvulsant effect. [R].
2. It may promote sleep
Emerging evidence has shown that threonine may cause effects on sleep. Studies have noted that threonine can increase sleep duration as well as sleep latency time, by directly stimulating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which blocks or inhibits certain brain signals in your central nervous system. GABA inhibits excitatory neurons, promoting feelings of calm, relaxation, and anxiolytic effects. When GABA receptors are activated, it also promotes sleep. Studies show that GABA can benefit and improve mood and sleep quality, reduce anxiety, and lower blood pressure.
3. May improve muscle gain and strength
Research indicates that threonine plays an essential role in muscle protein synthesis. Threonine also serves as a precursor or protein synthesis but also as a signaling molecule that can regulate the protein synthesis pathway.
Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), the primary mammalian target activator of rapamycin (mTOR) in skeletal muscle, is essential for muscle growth and regeneration. [R].
mTOR is a downstream component of the PI3K/AKT pathway, which modulates protein synthesis through ribosomal S6 kinase (S6K) and eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). [R]. A recent publication reported that dietary threonine enhanced muscle protein synthesis by activating the PI3K/AKT/TOR signaling cascade via IGF-I. [R].
Threonine is an essential amino acid (EAA), which means you’ll find Threonine in EAA supplements. We recommend INTRA from Swolverine, because it contains all the essential amino acids, with added electrolytes, and raw whole foods, for optimal athletic performance.
Recommended: Intra (Cherry Frost, Tropical Blast 30 servings)
4. Promotes positive gut health
The intestine has various roles that include nutrient absorption and digestion, as well as immune defense from invading pathogens and toxins. Threonine is used by the intestinal mucosa, aiding in the structural integrity of the intestine. Studies have found that threonine may help enhance the digestive and absorption capacity of the intestine.
Studies show that threonine improves and normalizes the intestinal microflora. Higher dietary threonine has been shown to reduce salmonella and escherichia coli (E. coli) colonies, while increasing lactobacilli. Additionally, studies have shown that when exposed to stress, dietary threonine resets the intestinal flora of animals [R].
Each essential amino acid aids in the muscle rebuilding process, and has its own unique biological mechanisms. Research indicates that threonine may help with gut health, protein synthesis, muscle contraction (Spasticity), and even promote better sleep. Adding more protein to your diet, as well as including an EAA supplement in your nutrition/supplementation protocol, is an easy way to get more threonine into your diet to help with overall health and athletic performance.
Looking for a supplement with a healthy dose of L-threonine
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