Depressed & Super-low in Amino Acids - Mothering Forums
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Women's Health > Depressed & Super-low in Amino Acids
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 08:34 PM 02-11-2004
Hi guys. I've been going through some tests to get at the cause of my PPD. I had a bloodspot test done through Metametrix Clinical Laboratory and I am low in 7 of the 11 amino acids they test. Wow. And I am borderline in two others. Basically, I've only got good levels of 2 out of 11. I'm low in arginine, histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, taurine, threonine, and trypotophan.

My results are "very, very bad" according to the clinician. He said "it is no wonder she is depressed."

The lab is cooking up some custom supplements for me and the clinician told my doctor that I should see results fairly quickly.

I'll be working with a doc to fix the underlying cause of the deficiency. I imagine I was sort of borderline before the pregnancy and with the nutrients going first to baby inutero and then first to the breastmilk, that my nutritional status was made worse. I was almost a complete vegetarian in the four years before the baby, so my conversion in the past year to a more animal-based diet (ala Weston Price and co.) makes me wonder what I did to myself in those years. But it also seems like something is still not functioning well and is keeping me from digesting protein properly.

So do any of you good folks have any experience with this? Any thoughts?


malamamama's Avatar malamamama 09:14 PM 02-11-2004
Interesting......thanks for sharing your experience. I never would have quessed lack of amino acids as a culprit of depression. One thought that came to mind in terms of digesting your meat....are you taking probiotics so that your digestive system is tip top in bacteria?
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 10:04 PM 02-11-2004
Yep, I am a believer in probiotics. . I've been battling yeast for a while, so I figure that has something to do with this. I may have about 15 things interacting here to put me in such a state.
goodpapa's Avatar goodpapa 11:51 AM 02-12-2004
I don't remember whether or not you have read Sally Fallon's "Nourishing Traditions" but if you haven't I would advise it.

She has an entire section on meat and fish stocks.

I've always liked the taste of good gravy (tried vegetarianism for two weeks--- didn't work out) and apparently stocks are a great source of easy to digest amino acids, minerals etc.

I've upgraded to antibiotic, hormone free meats, even fully with turkey and chicken (will start buying organic meat on the internet).

Most of my stock is from buying whole turkeys, filleting everything including the legs (it ain't easy) and saving everything else in my chest freezers until I have enough material and time to do the stock.

I usually make it on my grill in the summer. The outdoor heat means I use less propane and the bubbling brew mess stays out of the house.

It's a general process of adding distilled water, boiling the bits, draining off the water, boiling it down while adding new water to repeat the process.

Cheesecloth is the key to clarifying it at the end.

It takes an entire weekend, but the results are amazing.

According to Fallon, 40% of Americans have mild to severe hypothyroidism. The way we used to derive the thyroid specific nutrients was through fish stocks where the entire spine and end are cooked. I have done the stock process with grouper, and the results were quite good.

Just more evidence of the power of stock.

Good luck,


PS I make a killer eggs florentine-- all organic.
The meat stock is the base for the creamed spinach--- with butter, whole grain flower and a little milk--- onions and mushrooms.

Also, I don't know how much papaya you eat. Organic papaya is hard to find but apparently not really necessary as there isn't a heavy chemical load on them. I make a smoothie here and papaya is one of the ingredients.

I don't throw out the seeds though as they have digestive enzymes-- specifically for meats-- in them. I dry them in the oven slowly, heating it up to 170 F, letting them dry overnight. 3 days later they are dry and I pop them in their own pepper grinder and grind them on food. Slightly peppery, but not much-- you can use alot.
goodpapa's Avatar goodpapa 05:14 PM 02-12-2004
...though I haven't had a chance to peruse all of the info.

It looks great though.


PS Well, when I took a look it doesn't appear as usefull as I thought. Only the info for Arginine had dietary sources. Here's the only really useful info:

" Natural sources of arginine are brown rice, nuts, popcorn, raisins, and whole-wheat products.

"Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion."

One thing I do know that popped into my head is that the amino acid/ digestive enzyme situation is a bit of a catch-22. The amino acids are essential as building blocks for digestive enzymes, but the digestive enzymes are essential to absorbing the amino acids from foods.

goodpapa's Avatar goodpapa 06:47 PM 02-13-2004

"Enzymes can be found in many different foods, both from plant and animal sources. Avocados, papaya, pineapples, bananas, and mangos are all high in enzymes. Sprouts are the richest source. Unripe papaya and pineapple are excellent sources of enzymes. The enzymes extracted from papaya and pineapple are papain and bromelain, respectively, and are proteolytic enzymes. "

The main text looks good but I'm going to start checking the links at the end as well.

Looks like I'll get back to "sprouting" again.

This info may be the key to our having a second child. My boy is nursing like crazy still, at 2 (40" and 36 lbs). I'm pretty sure he's getting too much of my wife's nutrition. I'm going to have to concentrate on more enzymes in our diet.

the "chef de cuisine",

Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 01:57 PM 02-14-2004

Thanks for the info. I will definitely check out those links. I do have Nourishing Traditions and based on some of that information and on the knowledge (even before the tests) that I was low in a lot of vitamins and minerals, I was making beef and chicken broth regularly (organic but not all grass fed) and eating it everyday. We went on vacation for a week and it got me out of my regular routine, so I need to get back into it. I've got broth ready now, so I should be good to go. My neighbor fishes for salmon so I am going to hit him up for the fish bones for broth. I am definitely hypothyroid -- my basal body temps have been 1/2 degree lower than they were before pregnancy. They are starting to come up, but I think it's just a sign that all of my systems are a little bit (or more) out of whack.

I started on the amino acid supplements and they recommend starting slowly if you have digestive problems. Apparently I've got problems because I have reacted strongly to 1/3 of a dose. On the supplement information, they list causes of low amino acids as stress, anxiety, digestive problems, and poor diet. So I figure the stress of grad school and my soda and coffee habit in grad school combined with my vegan diet fours years following, a very difficult infancy period, a high need child, and my attempts to actually work part-time from home during naps and the few hours of babysitting, have all caught up to me.

Ray -- I'm sure that all of the nutritional work that you are doing will help your wife's health greatly. I had never appreciated before how much a baby takes out of you. But with this stress angle, I am realizing what damage stress can do to your whole body. Make sure she's getting plenty of sleep and has some time to herself to rejuvenate.

On the sprouting -- I just introduced quinoa to my diet -- soaked it for 24 hours and it sprouted. I reacted strongly to quinoa about 9 months ago and this round (with the soaking) I have been craving it.

morsan's Avatar morsan 05:49 PM 02-15-2004
On the issue of digesting meat:
There are certain vitamins (and minerals?) that are needed for the production of hydrochloric acid (which is needed for protein digestion as you may know). You can find this in the beginning chapters of NT.
Also, always eat your meat with stock. make sure it's from grass-fed organic animals since that's how the gelatin gets into your stock. There's some good farms at where you can find 100% grass-fed meat, and bones.

Fish stock should not be made from the bones of fatty fish, so salmon is not so good. The long cooking will make the fat go rancid.

Your digestion difficulty can have as much to do with your stress and anxiety.
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 09:12 PM 02-15-2004

Thanks so much for the info!

Your digestion difficulty can have as much to do with your stress and anxiety.
I am finally realizing that. I have cut back a huge amount in the last year, but I know it's not enough. We're about to move, so it's nearly impossible to be stress-free, but I'm working hard on it.

Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 03:55 PM 02-18-2004
Quick update here -- I'm on Day 6 of the amino acid supplementation and had a super-good day yesterday. I feel real good today too. The good thing about the supplements is that they are powder and are easily digested, so I am *hoping* that they will give me some relief as I take care of the underlying problems.

I am so excited to have energy two days in a row, I need to figure out which of the 75 things on my to-do list I should actually do today.

All I can say is Hot Damn!
(A phrase that apparently I should only write since my son can now repeat it after me. I don't think he can understand the difference between "hot damn" and other uses of "damn," so I'll have to put a lid on it. LOL)

And I turned 35 this week. Happy birthday to me
malamamama's Avatar malamamama 06:09 PM 02-18-2004

You go GaleForce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Xenogenesis's Avatar Xenogenesis 10:53 PM 02-19-2004
Woo Hoo!

morsan's Avatar morsan 07:42 PM 02-20-2004
Yes, I know moving is so stressful. I've moved like five times in a year and a half, I guess I'm almost used to it!
There's always something to be stressed about, but I think the worst stress for the stomach is probably that subtle anxiety some of us feel all the time. Moving is naturally stressful so allow youself to "stress" a little, and make sure to get a good amount of relaxation in between. Stress is OK, it's when you don't allow your body to loosen up afterwards that you run into trouble. Relaxation doesn't need to be a big thing either, just a deep breath, or stretching like a cat, or a slow walk etc. Just listening to your body more than anything, hearing what it wants. I used to feel "obliged" to lay down after a stressful day, even though it sometimes didn't feel good. Now I know my body may be "irrational" in what it wants and needs.

I hadn't given stress/stomach issues alot of thought. But just recently I realized that when I get stomach cramps after a meal I can relax my stomach and the pain will subside. Also, I know now that feeling anxious at the dinner table will cause stomach aches and indigestion too.

Happy Birthday!
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 01:42 PM 02-28-2004
I'm Back!

I'm back to this thread but what I really mean is that, after two years of depression beginning in my second trimester and a first trimester of extreme fatigue, I'm back. Watch out everybody.

I'm on Day 16 of the supplements and have felt pretty darned good since Day 5. Everyday has ranged from good to excellent. In the past, "good" was as good as it got and those days were scarce even in the "up cycles" of my depression. I was in a down cycle, about 10 days in. They usually last about six weeks. You can imagine my surprise and delight.

I am trying to remember that I am not cured, however. I was not digesting my proteins well before which means I am probably still not digesting them from my food (the supplements are a powder you take on an empty stomach). I imagine that I am still not digesting my vitamins and minerals well. I have an appointment with a super-genius doctor on March 9th and we'll work on the digestion and whatever else he decides. I am so excited. I want to have another baby and there is no better motivation than improving fertility and having a healthy baby.

So I've just been working like a dog around here getting the house ready to sell and cleaning up the house we bought. We did buy already -- from family -- but the house has not been maintained well so we've got a lot of work to get it up to speed to move in. I've also been cranking out my for-pay work. I cut way back on my contracts, but still have had a difficult time doing the little bit of work that I do have. Now I am cranking through it like the old me. It's pretty exciting and such a relief. I've also got plans to write two books. LOL. Who knew this would be possible. (I don't know that I'll get to it all, but it appears that it will be *possible* if I make it a priority.)

Now everyone in my family wants to be tested. LOL, They were the pillars holding it all together for two years and now they are down-right sluggish compared to me. I do think we all have the same basic health issues, but I am the only one with a constant drain on my body -- I produced a baby and continue to feed him.

Anyhoo, I don't even know how to conclude here. How about "Run, don't walk, to your nearest alternative doc." Or how about "hot damn" (since again I can only write it and not say it).

Take care everybody.
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 01:52 PM 02-28-2004
How did I miss these birthday wishes before?? Thanks you guys.

Originally posted by morsan
I think the worst stress for the stomach is probably that subtle anxiety some of us feel all the time.
Yes, I agree. Absolutely. This has been a problem for me in my depression. I could handle stress very well before the depression set in, but lost all coping skills after. My husband also has that ongoing anxiety that nips at him every hour of everyday.

The move is suddenly less stressful now that I have energy. We are blowing through work around here now, it's pretty exciting. But I can't wait until it's over and I can put my energy into the regular daily maintenance activities, like sitting on a hammock. We've been discussing what to buy with our sale proceeds that we might find extravagant later but will add to our quality of life -- hammock, patio furniture, outdoor heater for a deck, and something else I've forgotten. It's funny that everything centers on relaxing. We plan to do a lot of that. We have to make up for lost time on breathing fresh air -- we're moving from a smog center to a clean-air paradise.
goodpapa's Avatar goodpapa 02:19 PM 02-28-2004
"So I've just been working like a dog around here getting the house ready to sell and cleaning up the house we bought. We did buy already -- from family -- but the house has not been maintained well so we've got a lot of work to get it up to speed to move in. I've also been cranking out my for-pay work. I cut way back on my contracts, but still have had a difficult time doing the little bit of work that I do have. Now I am cranking through it like the old me. It's pretty exciting and such a relief. I've also got plans to write two books. LOL."

Talk about an overnight success!!

Congratz!, the body's (mind's) ability to heal itself given the right building blocks is the best magic there is.

I don't remember if we covered sunlight before but it is key in getting the necessary Vit.D which then goes about making all sorts of necessary hormones for our physical and mental wellbeing. Here in NC I get everyone out on the back deck even on the cool days to get the necessary sun.

But calcium absorption is also dependant upon magnesium intake:

My son loves a liver mousse that I buy (it's antibiotic and hormone free) and he gets it regularly for the mineral content (the only link I could find quickly):

"Vitamins and minerals
The liver stores all of the fat – soluble vitamins in addition to zinc, iron, copper, magnesium and vitamin B12."

Also, Gail, I don't know if the house work you need to do involves sanding painted walls, but I'm assuming that the paint WILL have lead in it. Try to manage the paint dust as much as possible.

When we moved into this house half was carpeted half was wood. I've since ripped out the carpet and installed wood floors, but now realize that they didn't put much finish on the brand new wood floors that they did--- I did 1 sealer coat and 3 finish coats-- so now we've ground through the finish (Carolina clay has plenty of sand)

If I had to do it over again I would have lightly sanded the existing floors and put down some coats of poly BEFORE we moved in.

Good luck with all your endeavors,

Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 01:06 PM 02-29-2004
Hey Ray. Thanks for the info. We won't be painting for some time -- the clean up is literally dirt, trash, and rebuilding the garden. We've agreed to put off painting for a while, but if we do, I won't do it and they'll take great care with the clean-up. And actually, the paint is in decent shape -- not a lot of peeling, mostly just needing to be updated. I'll sit in the sun and let others paint. Especially should I be pregnant. I'll follow those links, esp the liver -- I've never heard of "liver mousse" (I'm glad I glanced back at my spelling or someone may have asked "what is liver mouse?" LOL
Xenogenesis's Avatar Xenogenesis 02:38 AM 03-01-2004
Wow! That's Great!!

Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 12:54 PM 03-01-2004

Still going strong here. With so much energy and a new lease on life, we're even going to try to sell our house ourselves. The sign goes up today or tomorrow.
intentfulady's Avatar intentfulady 03:11 PM 03-01-2004
Hi !

Good for you!

I recently had similar experience.
Suffered PPD for a year. 9 mo. BAD.

ND did some labs, started supplementation. Progesterone, adrenal supp., B's, enzymes, DHEA,
With good results.

Added Tryptophan..and My head cleared. I now get nausea when I take it, 50 mg. -100mg. I helped immensly.
The GI s/s just recently started. Did not have them first 3 months.

Follow up labs indicate I'm not absorbing DHEA, my cholesterol is SHOCKINGLY LOW. I eat a high fat diet with lots of flax, and olive oil.
So Im not absorbing good fats, even with consistent enzyme supplementation... some intrinsic factor missing?

Gald to see you on the PPD list too. Thanks.
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 04:31 PM 02-16-2005
Hi all. It’s been a year and I thought I should give a quick update.

I took the full doses of the supplements from February of 2004 through September. At that point, I began to cut back gradually to half. By November I was on half doses and did not notice a difference. By the beginning of December I went to ¼ doses and was off by Christmas. I didn’t tell my family about the weaning until around the new year – they would have panicked. Since then, I have felt better than I have ever felt. My energy has remained fairly consistently high. I tend to have super high-energy times – those are longer. The down times in between are shorter.

In the past year I have stayed on the diet focusing on nutrient rich foods, based on the Weston Price school.

And happy birthday to me once again. LOL. 36 tomorrow.

I have made Sally Fallon's "Orange Cake" recipe -- a pound cake but with soaked flour, so more of a sourdough cake. Once cooled it gets covered in a sauce of honey, orange juice, lemon juice, and brandy. It's now stewing and will be ready to taste tomorrow. We rarely get grains around here, so this is a huge treat.
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 03:58 PM 10-18-2005
Hey everybody. It's been over 18 months now and I'm still supplementing and still working on some other deficiencies. While the work continues, at least I can be a productive member of the household again.

I was reading a book by Sherry Rogers "Depression: Cured at Last" and she talks about the importance of working on other deficiencies first and then addressing amino acids after the others are fixed. Basically, it's usually more underlying deficiencies that cause your body not to absorb the amino acids. In general, this is all complicated stuff, but I figure I'll come out of the end of all of this a much healthier person. It takes these crises to get the priorities all worked out.

And I noticed in one of the posts here I said that I was planning on writing two books. I can't remember what those books were going to be, but I am working on a book now and trying to juggle our house and my job. I am trying to do it all in a more reasonable fashion and allow myself time off if I need it or I allow myself to work on my book when I should be doing something else. The writing has been therapeutic.
Pepper's Avatar Pepper 03:31 PM 11-02-2005
Thanks so much for the updates, Amanda. I'm so happy that you are feeling better. Thanks also for sharing your story. I'm 4 months post-partum and have been dealing with ppd for the past 8 weeks or so....I'm looking at all angles to help.
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 05:09 PM 02-16-2006
It's now been two years.

Happy birthday to me again tomorrow.

I'm still supplementing and still chasing a magnesium deficiency. There's nothing about any of this that's easy, but my mental clarity is better than it has ever been.

I had a follow-up amino test a few months ago and was surprised at how low my results were after nearly two years. My supplementation has been spotty at times, but still. My chiropractor says she has seen that in people who start out as low as me. Blood levels stay pretty low because the aminos in your food and supplement get scooped up immediately by your body. I'll report back should my test ever turn into anything approaching normal.

JaneS's Avatar JaneS 12:03 AM 02-18-2006

I thought of you when I was just reading how enzymes are useful for splitting proteins from peptides into amino acids. The proteases specifically.

So perhaps there is still a glitch there, that your food is not being utilized correctly.
Pookietooth's Avatar Pookietooth 09:16 PM 02-19-2006
Happy Birthday, Amanda! My ds's birthday was just a couple of days before yours!

I wondered about the whole amino acid thing -- not that w could afford the test anyway -- just felt like it was one piece of a whole puzzle. A huge puzzle!
Gale Force's Avatar Gale Force 11:54 PM 02-19-2006
Hi ladies! I missed your posts earlier. I missed Jane's because I was busy eating a very fine piece of chocolate cake. I may still be in recovery. :

Interesting info Jane. I've got some enzymes in my hydrochloric acid, I'll have to look into that a bit more.

I hear you Jen on the cost. It is out of control what all of this stuff costs.
DarkHorseMama's Avatar DarkHorseMama 01:49 PM 02-20-2006
: Hmmm, interesting thread. Thanks for bumping GF. Definitely something to look into there.
JaneS's Avatar JaneS 12:44 AM 02-25-2006
I thought I remembered something specifically about this so I went back and checked...

To paraphrase Karen DeFelice's book, proteins are constructed of amino acids in chains:


Enzymes split them up so the body can utilize them:

a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a

So it makes sense if a gut is damaged and not producing adequate enzymes, the amino acids are not being absorbed in their proper amounts.

This was one explanation for the "Happy Child/Happy Adult" effect that appearing when her enzyme group saw when starting an all around enzyme plus a high protease enzyme with all meals and snacks.

Proteases are strong, go slow, they make me and DS hyper. And I still don't know what that's all about.
JaneS's Avatar JaneS 02:26 AM 02-27-2006
Low levels of hydrochloric acid have an adverse impact on the availability of dietary amino acids, even in a higher protein diet, so stimulating the pancreas using lacto-fermented foods is crucial.
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