Is Phenylalanine Good For You ?

I bought juice drink to satisfy my thirsts . Just like before. I always check what are written on the labels. I read the term “Phenylketonurics: Contains Phenylalanine”. I was curious about it but never managed to check what it is. I threw the empty juice package and continue walking way home.

A few days after. My wife asked me to drive her to the hospital to get her “operating room records” ( she has just given birth ) and the results of our baby’s new born screening. Thanks God!, new born screening results normal. Nothing to worry about.  One thing got my attention . The term “Phenylketunuria” . It sounds like Phenylketunurics than was written on juice label I drank before.   That incidence powered me to do some research.

“Phenylketonurics” is the term used to refer to people that have the metabolic disorder Phenylketonuria, or PKU for short. While “phenylketonuria” is a genetic metabolic disorder that results when the PKU gene is inherited from both parents. People with PKU cannot metabolize phenylalanine.  It builds up in  blood in the form of an acid called phenylpyruvic acid. High levels of phenylpyruvic acid damage the brain and can cause an array of side effects such as mental retardation; the loss of pigmentation in the skin,hair and eyes ;a “mousy” or musty odor; muscle aches and pains and in extreme cases; even seizures.

Is Phenylalanine really harmful? Definitely not! It is only harmful to those who have PKU. In fact its one of the essential amino acids, present in many common proteins -meats, dairy products, eggs, nuts, legumes and as well as hemoglobin. It is used in medicine and nutrition and as one of the two amino acids making up aspartame. This explains why the juice I drank earlier is phenylketonuric, it contains aspartame. Package foods with aspartame has a warning sign so serve as a guide to us.

Lessons learned . Let your baby undergo New Born Screening and always read the product label. Better late than never but early is the best!


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