Serine is a supplementary or non-essential amino acid denoting that while this amino acid is necessary for our body to function appropriately, it is not essential that it has to be taken from any external source. Serine is produced by our body naturally from different metabolites, for instance, glycine. Also known as ser, serine is basically a proteinogenic amino acid, which means that serine is among the 22 amino acids that form the usual human genetic code. It may be noted that the term ‘proteinogenic’ has its origin in the Latin word denoting ‘protein building’.
Serine was isolated from protein present in silk for the first time in 1865. It may be noted that silk has a high concentration of serine and, hence, this amino acid got its name from the Latin term ‘sericum’ denoting silk. Scientists were successful in finding out the chemical structure of serine by 1902.
The amino acid serine is not needed in the diet and is considered a non-essential amino acid. This amino acid can be synthesized via biochemical pathways in the body. In the human body, the normal pathway for manufacture of serine is from another amino acid glycine. The amino acid serine aids in reducing pain in the body. The amino acid serine is also a chemical mimic for the actions of a natural anti-psychotic compound and is useful in treating mental disorders. The amino acid serine is also essential for efficient metabolism of all the fatty acids and fats in the body – it is required for the proper growth of muscles. The amino acid serine also facilitates the synthesis of various antibodies and immunoglobulins in the human body; this action aids in the maintenance of the immune system and ensures its proper functioning at all times. Many marketed cosmetics and skin care preparations have serine as an additive in the role of a natural moisturizing agent.
The synthesis of glucose in the liver is stimulated by the amino acid serine. Consumption of protein rich foods rich in serine will for this reason help in stabilizing the body against the rapid oscillations of blood
sugar levels following a meal. The amino acid serine in turn serves as a precursor to the amino acid cysteine, when combined with another amino acid methionine. It can also serve as a precursor to glycine – a compound from which it is derived. The combined actions of the amino acids serine, alanine and glycine help in stabilizing the blood sugar levels and are a resource for the timed release of glucose after the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver.
The consumption of a well balanced diet will ensure that a deficiency of any non-essential amino acid does not develop in a person. The daily consumption of proper foods permits the body to synthesize exactly the amount of amino acid it requires to function at an optimal level for the maintenance of vital functions. The use of combined supplements of alanine, glycine and serine for the proper management of blood sugar disorders connected with reactive hypoglycemia is a recent treatment initiative.
The metabolism of serine is readily done in the body and has a large biochemical safety margin even if the amino acid is present in large amounts in the body at any one time.
Although serine provides a number of health benefits, its primary use in our body is to facilitate the performance of the central nervous system (CNS), in addition to the general functioning of the brain. The myelin sheaths’ coverings that protect the nerves within the brain contain serine. When there is a dearth of serine, these coverings turn out to be lean or totally vanish, as a result of which the nerves are incapacitated and unable to transmit signals to the different body parts.
In addition, serine also facilitates the creation of immunoglobulin and antibodies, which are both indispensible for a robust immune system. This amino acid is needed to produce tryptophan, which is utilized to produce serotonin. It may be noted here that serotonin is employed by the brain to control the mood, and nervousness and depression are related to the absence or either tryptophan or serotonin in our body.
The presence of folic acid as well as vitamins B3 and B6 is essential to make it possible for the human body to produce serine. These amalgams are naturally present in peanuts, foods based on soy, dairy products, wheat gluten and meat. On the other hand, taking diets that contain high amounts of processed foods may result in a dearth of this amino acid. While you may purchase serine supplements in tablet as well as powdered forms, this non-essential amino acid is most commonly available in the form of a blended supplement, for instance, a dietetic sports beverage. Frequently, serine is also incorporated in the form of a natural moisturizing ingredient in several skin care as well as cosmetic preparations.
Only in exceptional instances, the body may possibly suffer from a natural dearth of serine. In fact, it is a hereditary condition that prevents the occurrence of bio-synthesis of L-serine. This condition is generally common in children having symptoms like seizures and psycho-motor retardation. The signs of this health problem are apparent in the form of a neurological condition and several children are usually not examined for deficiency of L-serine. Usually, a simple test of the spinal fluid is sufficient to find out if this problem is the basic reason for the symptoms.
Tryptophan and serotonin deficits are related to several health conditions, including insomnia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, confusion and nervousness as well as fibromyalgia (a disease distinguished by weariness and unrelenting pain in the muscles as well as in tissues adjoining the joints).
Serine used at therapeutic doses ranges between 300 mg and 1,000 mg of the supplement on a daily basis during the entire supplemental period.
Side effects and cautions
People who are using serine, a dispensable amino acid, ought to be aware of the possible side effects caused by it and take the necessary precautions to avoid them. Although using serine seldom causes any serious side effects, some of the minor side effects of this amino acid may comprise indigestion, queasiness and insomnia or sleeplessness. Extremely elevated levels of serine in the body may result in suppression of the immune system, in addition to psychological symptoms, for instance cerebral allergies. In addition, it is advisable that pregnant women as well as nursing mothers should never take this non-essential amino acid.