The Effects Of Amino Acid Supplements In Children

Amino acid supplements for children are natural or processed protein sources that contain the essential and non-essential amino acids.

Amino acids supplements for children

Amino acid supplements for children are natural or processed protein sources that contain the essential and non-essential amino acids. 

What are amino acid supplements for children?

They processed amino acid powder or capsules used to boost amino acid intake when there isn’t enough in food and drink sources or to make it easier for a child to take amino acids than from natural sources such as vegetables, legumes, and meat. Like adults, children need these  amino acids:

  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Tryptophan
  • Threonine
  • Isoleucine
  • Methionine
  • Histidine
  • Arginine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Tyrosine

What are the effects of amino acid supplements in children?

The kidshealth.org cites that there’s no long-term study made about the effects of sports supplements (that includes amino-acids) on teens.

Note: Currently, there are no or few studies that validate the efficacy of amino acid supplements for children. 

effects of amino acid supplements in children

Beneficial effects

Prevent stunting

Stunting refers to the impaired development and growth of children due to repeated infection and poor nutrition. A study published in ScienceDirect reported that low intake of amino acids is linked to stunted growth of children. The study cited stunted children in Africa. This finding is also supported by an article from the Medicalnewstoday that says low amino acid intake is related to stunted growth. A publication from the research gate said that protein intake is linked positively with the child’s height and weight.

Provide health benefits

Amino vital, an amino acid supplement maker, published an article that amino acid supplements are safe for children as it can promote hormonal regulation, normal metabolism, and cognitive function. An article in hupo.org detailed that essential amino acids may be the solution for solving child malnutrition.

Provide adequate protein

The IFICF or International Food Information Council Foundation recommends adequate protein intake for smooth body function and protein storage. A safe protein source is whey protein that contains essential amino acids. Whey is commonly found in baby formulas.

May help kids with autism and ADD or attention deficit disorder

Two studies showed the beneficial effects of amino acid supplements and therapy to some populations or links to the detrimental effects of low amino acid to cognitive function. First, the 2012 study showed that autistic children have low levels of amino acids because of genetic mutation. 

Second, in 2006, the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine publication reported that children at risk of autism or ADD had reduced aggressive behaviors and improved attention. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid, is important for learning and attention and may help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. These two studies need more clinical trials and research to confirm the efficacy of amino acids.

Relieves anxiety

Dr. Nicole Beurkens interviewed Trudy Scott, an author, and certified nutritionist, and published the details in drbeurkens.com discussing that amino acids can relieve anxiety in kids. Nicole and Trudy discussed case studies on DPA, GABA, and tryptophan.

Negative effects

Could be risky

According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, amino acid supplements could be risky for adolescents and children because there is no adequate info that cites the safe amount of supplements intake for children. Further, the FDA has not regulated such supplements and they could be mislabeled for containing or not containing the claimed ingredients. Sports grade supplements may contain additives and drugs not listed on labels.

May lead to unwanted side-effects

The AAP or American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend taking supplements for kids and instead opts for a balanced diet. Supplements such as amino acids may lead to unwanted side-effects such as stomach upset and fatigue.

Unnecessarily helpful for youngsters

Tara Hardwood, a pediatrician from the Cleveland Clinic Children’s hospital, explained that protein supplements may lead to children losing their extra water that can lead to dehydration. She instead recommends flavored milk as a safe, natural, and cheap source of whey protein. Mfit.com doesn’t suggest BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) for kids and other protein supplements as they may cause harm or teens will not benefit from such protein powders. Likewise, responses from yahoo answers don’t recommend BCAA’s for a 14-year-old who asked a question if he/she needs BCAA for losing weight.

The National Council on Fitness and Strength reports that recent research does not support using supplements over healthy foods. Further, many US-based medical organizations do not recommend creatine supplements for children aged below 18.

What are the daily requirements for children?

The protein intake required depends on age and weight. The USDA dietary guidelines recommend the following protein amounts. The needs of boys and girls are the same until they reach 14 years of age. Beyond that, boys need to eat more protein because they still grow and weigh more than girls.

AgeDaily protein intake needed
1 to 2 years13 gm
4 to 8 years19 gm
9 to 13 years34 gm
14 to 18 years (Boys)52 gm
14 to 18 years (Girls)46 gm

What are the sources of amino acids for children?

The following are the natural sources of protein found in meat, vegetables, and dairy.

  • Soy milk
  • Whole milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanut butter
  • Nuts
  • Chicken
  • Canned tuna
  • Pasta
  • Tofu
  • Pasta
  • Canned sardines
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Salmon
  • Quinoa
  • Chia seeds
  • Baby cereal
  • Yogurt
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Coconut
  • Avocado
  • Peas
  • Whitefish

Amino acid supplements found in the market

These are are some of the amino acid powder and liquids made for children

  • Biosland lysine starter for kids
  • Apetimax for kids
  • Neuroscience

The Bottom Line

Amino acid supplements can be tempting to provide for your child if he/she is undergoing physical activity such as muscle buildup or exercise. To ensure a safe supplementation, consult a health expert or dietician before using any supplements because you may not know if those protein powders or liquids do contain the said amino acids or cause unexpected side effects. 

You’ll also have to determine if those amino acid supplements for children contain gluten which is unfit for kids with celiac disease. Most health experts don’t recommend having your child taking protein supplements on their own as you may never know what lies beyond or the effects of self-supplementation.

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