Cysteine is a sulfur-containing amino acid. According to some sources, it is one of the so-called conditionally irreplaceable. This means that under normal conditions, the body is able to independently provide itself with this substance, meanwhile, there are times when a person is forced to replenish amino acid reserves from the outside. One of the factors requiring additional “suppliers” of cysteine is intense physical activity, stress and illness.
- 1 General characteristics
- 2 Cysteine synthesis
- 3 Benefits for the body
- 4 Cysteine and …
- 5 Daily Amino Acid Requirement
- 6 Who needs the most
- 7 Who should not be abused
- 8 Side effects
- 9 Caveats
- 10 Combination with other substances
- 11 Excess and disadvantage: how it manifests itself
- 12 Food sources
- 13 Amino Acid in Industry
In the human body, cysteine is used to produce taurine and glutathione. Taurine is important as a substance that plays a key role for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. It also helps to control blood pressure, supports eye health, helps build muscle and burn excess fat.
Glutathione is essential for the functioning of the immune system, as it is a powerful antioxidant and also protects the nervous system from damage. By the way, researchers increasingly attribute early aging and breakdown to glutathione deficiency. Moreover, it has already been proven that the consumption of dietary supplements is not able to restore the necessary level of glutathione in the body. Maintaining an adequate concentration of the substance is possible only in the presence of cysteine.
Cysteine, a substance with the formula C3H7NO2S, in turn, is necessary to maintain the concentration of glutathione, as well as for the functioning of muscle tissue. This amino acid plays an important role in the production of T cells (lymphocytes) and the strengthening of immunity. Also, this substance is a component of human hair. And as experiments have shown, this element is able to increase the diameter of the hairs. In addition, it is part of insulin and, if necessary, can be converted into glucose, thus saturating the body with additional energy.
The gastrointestinal tract also has a beneficial effect on cysteine. Since some medications (such as aspirin) damage the mucous membrane of the stomach, this beneficial component protects the organ’s cavity and restores the mucous layer.
In the body, cysteine is made from another sulfur-containing amino acid – methionine. The process of converting methionine to cysteine is a complex, multi-stage process and requires the presence of certain enzymes and vitamins. A shortage of any of the necessary components causes a “system failure”. The conversion of methionine to cysteine can be disturbed due to various diseases.
Vitamin B6 and serine are also the “raw material” for this amino acid, and the body uses hydrogen sulfide to form the sulfur-containing component of cysteine.
Worst of all, the production of amino acids is affected by liver diseases and metabolic disorders. In the body of newborns, this process does not occur at all. But nature made sure that the babies received everything they needed from mother’s milk, while their body was rebuilt in a new way.
Benefits for the body
Cysteine has found its use in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and some proponents of amino acid treatment say it is effective in preventing colon cancer. Meanwhile, it is known that the amino acid contributes to the detoxification of the body (after drinking alcohol and smoking or an overdose of acetaminophen), increases sports endurance. It is also believed that this substance can protect a person from the negative effects of radiation.
Cysteine and …
The results of a study conducted in 2008 on rats showed the effect of cysteine on a patient with diabetes mellitus. In laboratory animals, after ingestion, the blood sugar level was significantly reduced and insulin resistance increased. In addition, it turned out that it inhibits inflammation of the blood vessels, which are often key factors in the occurrence of cardiac diseases in diabetes.
In the same year, Dutch scientists analyzed the effect of cysteine on the inflamed intestines. It turned out that the amino acid can weaken colitis. True, this experiment was also performed on animals. This time they chose blue as experimental.
… free radicals
Cysteine, affecting the human body, inhibits the production of free radicals. In 10 men who participated in the 7-day experiment, the antioxidant abilities of the body increased, and the production of free radicals decreased.
In alternative medicine, it is used as a natural medicine for:
- angina pectoris;
- cardiovascular diseases;
- chronic bronchitis;
- bowel diseases;
Daily Amino Acid Requirement
Consumption rates of cysteine in the form of dietary supplements are indicated in the instructions for use. In order to avoid negative consequences, it is important to adhere to these recommendations. In addition, when consuming this amino acid, it is important to take care of sufficient water intake.
But some forms of cysteine can be toxic to the body. Researchers say that a person tolerates the amino acid well in doses of 2500-3000 mg per day. But the consumption of substances over 7 g per day can have a toxic effect and cause unpleasant side effects.
Who needs the most
Cysteine is equally necessary for all people, but some, as they say, need it more. In particular, severe stress and increased physical activity may require a little more amino acids from the body than usual. Immunocompromised people also need supplements and amino acid rich foods. Proper nutrition will help optimize body functions and increase disease resistance. Particularly acute cysteine deficiency is felt by people with HIV / AIDS. Also, it is possible to increase the daily amino acid norms for people with rheumatoid arthritis, chronic cardiological diseases, diseases of the respiratory system and cataracts (initial stage).
Who should not be abused
In some cases, cysteine should be taken with extreme caution. This applies to patients with diabetes mellitus, since the component affects the effectiveness of insulin. Also, slightly less than usual, they recommend taking cysteine for hypertension, problems with the thymus gland, as well as for pregnant and lactating mothers. People whose diet contains cereals, eggs, bakery products, as well as garlic or onions also do not need additional cysteine-containing preparations.
If side effects on the background of taking cysteine occur, as a rule, they do not cause extreme damage to the body. The most common: indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headaches and gastrointestinal discomfort. Usually side effects occur with insufficient water consumption.
In some individuals, cysteine intolerance is diagnosed, then against the background of a dietary supplement containing an amino acid, allergic reactions occur. In such cases, the body, responding to cysteine, produces an excessive amount of the hormone homocysteine (secreted by the body in response to toxins). An allergy is manifested by a rash on the skin, swelling of the throat and face, difficulty breathing, arrhythmia, and a person needs emergency medical care.
Combination with other substances
Today, science knows little about how the long-term use of cysteine affects the body. There are some concerns about the combination of amino acids with other substances.
Cysteine supplements may interact negatively with certain medications. For example, there is evidence that the component blocks the work of drugs against sore throats, some inhibitors, and medications that act as enzymes. So, with extreme caution, it is recommended to take cysteine with drugs that suppress the immune system (for example, prednisone). Also, they are not advised to get involved in dietary supplements for nursing mothers and pregnant women.
And to get the maximum benefit from the substance, cysteine is best taken in combination with vitamins E and B6, ascorbic acid, as well as calcium, sulfur and selenium. The latter enhances the effectiveness of the compound several times.
Excess and disadvantage: how it manifests itself
Excessive accumulation of amino acids in the body, as a rule, is manifested by allergies, irritability, disruption of the intestines and blood clotting.
The lack of substance affects the health of nails and hair, overdries the skin, provokes cracks in the mucous membranes of the body, and causes depression. In addition, amino acid deficiency is fraught with diseases of the cardiovascular system, digestive disorders, weakened immunity, and impaired brain function.
Like other amino acids, cysteine is present in many high-protein foods. This is all meat and dairy products, eggs, poultry, beans, buckwheat, fish, sesame seeds, nuts and seeds. Small amounts of cysteine are found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red and yellow peppers, garlic and onions. But the high temperature during cooking robs the component of biological activity. Meanwhile, high hopes for raw food are also not worth it. Gastric acid and intestinal bacteria partially impede the penetration of cysteine into the blood.
The body most easily absorbs the component from the serum of cow’s milk. In this product, the amino acid is in the form of cystine, a block of 2 cysteine molecules. Once in the cells of the body, cystine again breaks down into 2 cysteine molecules. Pasteurization of milk and repeated heating destroys these blocks. For this reason, milk from supermarkets cannot serve as a source of amino acids.
Amino Acid in Industry
Cysteine is actively used in the food industry, as an E920 supplement. However, in this form it is not able to benefit the body. It is believed that as a dietary supplement, it causes diseases of the kidneys and the cardiovascular system.
Supplements containing cysteine come in synthetic and natural origin. The synthetic version is the result of the work of the chemical industry. The production of amino acids of natural origin is cheaper. For these purposes, use hair, wool and feathers. They are known to be rich in keratin, which in turn contains cysteine. As a result of lengthy manipulations, the decomposition product in the form of an amino acid is extracted from the raw material.