Yet Few Consumers Know What They’re Made From.
Not-for-profit AminoFacts reviews common amino acids supplement brands for their immunity-boosting ingredients and sourcing practices for a conscious diet.
CHICAGO (Feb. 25, 2021) – As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of a strong immune system into sharp focus, AminoFacts, an independent, non-profit organization based in the US that advocates for transparency around Food Grade Amino Acids in dietary supplements, today released a review of supplement brands that are designed to boost immunity.
Approximately 77% of U.S. consumers take supplements, according to a survey conducted by the Council for Responsible Nutrition. Meanwhile, 94% say it is important that brands transparent about what is in their food and how it is made, according to a study by Label Insight. Yet, a recent survey conducted by AminoFacts suggests that only a third of consumers know how amino acid supplement products are sourced.
To help, AminoFacts, under the guidance of board member Clare Hasler-Lewis Ph.D., has conducted an independent review of leading supplements for their immunity-building properties and ethical sourcing.
Amino Acids 101
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. The human body uses amino acids to make all proteins in the body. There are three groups of amino acids: essential, nonessential, and conditional. It’s the essential amino acids that we must get from our diet – they cannot be made by the body. There are nine essential amino acids and they are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Amino acids for the supplement market are either extracted from plants or animals or manufactured synthetically. Plant-based sources include sugarcane, beet, peas, and corn. Animal sources can be made from meat and meat byproducts such as human hair, feathers, fish silage, blood, milk, and stomach contents.
Immunity-boosting Amino Acids
Protein-rich diets can help ensure that the body maintains levels of certain amino acids. Diets that lack the specific amino acids can lead to lower white blood cell counts, inhibiting the body’s ability to combat disease. The following amino acids can strengthen key functions of the immune system:
- L-Arginine and L-Citrulline help activate the body’s white blood cells, which detect, ingest and eliminate harmful foreign bodies including viruses.
- Glutathione, L-Cysteine, N-Acetyl Cysteine (aka NAC), and Cystine are antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness, aging and a host of diseases.
- Histidine helps reduce overactive allergic and inflammatory reactions to germs and other bacteria, which can cause the immune system to overreact and destroy healthy tissue and lead to autoimmune disease.
- L-Glutamine is used when one is sick or injured, as it helps kill invading pathogens by boosting white cell production in key organs such as the liver. It is also essential to gut health, which has an impact on the immune system.
- L-Lysine works to relieve stress in the body to regulate the immune response.
A More Conscious Consumer
While demand for supplements is high, the consumer is becoming more conscious about the ethical and natural sourcing of supplements. Labels on some popular amino acid supplements can be difficult to navigate – some make claims that are true for all products, and some are less-than-transparent about where their products are sourced and how they are made. For example, while amino acids sourced from plants or animals are molecularly identical and equally effective, some manufacturers don’t list the sourcing for their products, which has ethical implications for consumers with plant-based lifestyle preferences.
“Supplements can be a great way to make sure you are getting the amino acids you need for optimal immunity health,” said AminoFacts Board Member, Clare Hasler-Lewis, Ph.D., and co-founder and CEO of natural supplements company OlivinoLife, Inc. “But not all supplements are created the same. Many consumers may not be aware that their supplements are made with materials derived from animal parts, and many have fillers and other additives. This begs the question: what are consumers supposed to think?”
To help consumers get the benefits of supplements while still adhering to their values, AminoFacts has reviewed products that are blended immunity solutions containing one or more amino acids along with immune-boosting vitamins and other natural products, as well as individual amino acid supplements that can help maintain immune health. AminoFacts contacted the manufacturers and reviewed the labels to determine which brands are most animal- and planet-friendly. Among the brands reviewed at aminofacts.org are:
IMMUNITY BLENDS CONTAINING AMINO ACIDS
- Pure Nature Immunity Complex
- ImmuneMD Comprehensive Immune Support
- Carlson Glutathione Booster
AMINO ACID SUPPLEMENTS
- Pure Encapsulations L-Lysine
- NOW L-Arginine
- Solgar L-Glutamine
- Source Naturals L-Arginine L-Citrulline Complex
- Swanson Free-form Lysine
“The supplement market is a bit behind the food industry in terms of providing consumers with specific and consistent information about what they’re putting into their bodies,” said David Madsen, Ph.D. and AminoFacts Board member. “It is important for consumers to know what questions to ask, and how to decipher labels to find answers.”
Amino Facts is also offering all consumers the chance to submit their favorite brand to aminofacts.org for an evaluation.
AminoFacts is an independent, non-profit organization that brings transparency to sourcing and production processes around food-grade amino acids, a significant ingredient in many dietary supplements so that consumers know more about what they’re putting into their bodies. The organization was established as a response to comprehensive public opinion research in the San Francisco metropolitan area that showed little knowledge, even among active supplement takers, of where amino acids are sourced and how they are made. AminoFacts is dedicated to providing information on the industry’s sourcing and manufacturing trends, along with information on leading U.S. brands. The organization’s advisors include experts on supplements, regulatory requirements, and manufacturing processes for food-grade amino acids, as well as scientists and leaders within the food and dietary supplement sectors.