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What is Aspartic Acid?



Aspartic acid (abbreviated as Asp or D; Asx or B represent either aspartic acid or asparagine) is an Š-amino acid with the chemical formula HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CO2H. The carboxylate anion of aspartic acid is known as aspartate. The L-isomer of aspartate is one of the 20 proteinogenic amino acids, i.e., the building blocks of proteins. Its codons are GAU and GAC.

Aspartic acid is, together with glutamic acid, classified as an acidic amino acid with a pKa of 4.0. Aspartic acid is pervasive in biosynthesis. As with all amino acids, the location of acid protons depends on the pH of the solution and the crystallization conditions.

Role in biosynthesis of amino acids:

Aspartic acid is non-essential in mammals, being produced from oxaloacetate by transamination. In plants and microorganisms, aspartic acid is the precursor to several amino acids, including four that are essential: methionine, threonine, isoleucine, and lysine. The conversion of aspartic acid to these other amino acids begins with reduction of aspartic acid to its "semialdehyde," HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CHO. Asparagine is derived from aspartic acid via transamidation:

HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CO2H + GC(O)NH2 HO2CCH(NH2)CH2CONH2 + GC(O)OH (where GC(O)NH2 and GC(O)OH are glutamine and glutamic acid, respectively)

Other biochemical roles:

Aspartate is also a metabolite in the urea cycle and participates in gluconeogenesis. It carries reducing equivalents in the malate-aspartate shuttle, which utilizes the ready interconversion of aspartate and oxaloacetate, which is the oxidized (dehydrogenated) derivative of malic acid. Aspartic acid donates one nitrogen atom in the biosynthesis of inositol, the precursor to the purine bases.

Aspartic Acid:

Aspartic acid, is also known as L-aspartate, is thought to help promote a robust metabolism, and is sometimes used to treat fatigue and depression. Aspartic acid plays an important role in the citric acid cycle, or Krebs cycle, during which other amino acids and biochemicals, such as asparagine, arginine, lysine, methionine, threonine, and isoleucine, are synthesized.

Aspartic acid gets its reputation as a treatment for chronic fatigue from the crucial role it plays in generating cellular energy. Aspartic acid moves the coenzyme nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) molecules from the main body of the cell to its mitochondria, where it is used to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the fuel that powers all cellular activity.

In short, the more NADH a cell has, the more chemical fuel it produces, and the more energy you have to get through your day. (Some studies have shown that aspartic acid actually increases both stamina and endurance levels in athletes.) In addition, this amino acid helps transport minerals needed to form healthy RNA and DNA to the cells, and strengthens the immune system by promoting increased production of immunoglobulins and antibodies (immune system proteins).

Aspartic acid keeps your mind sharp by increasing concentrations of NADH in the brain, which is thought to boost the production of neurotransmitters and chemicals needed for normal mental functioning. It also removes excess toxins from the cells, particularly ammonia, which is very damaging to the brain and nervous system as well as the liver.

Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body is able to manufacture its own supply. It is also found in dairy, beef, poultry, sugar cane and molasses (the artificial sweetener aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalaline, another amino acid). People with diets low in protein or with eating disorders or malnutrition may develop a deficiency, not only in aspartic acid, but in other amino acids as well, and experience extreme fatigue or depression.

Serious athletes may need to take an amino acid supplement as wellóaspartic acid can be found in protein supplements such as amino acid tablets and whey protein powder drinks/bars, and are often marketed as energy boosters. They are generally available at most drugstores and health food stores, or at your local gym or health club.

Neurotransmitter:

Aspartate (the conjugate base of aspartic acid) stimulates NMDA receptors, though not as strongly as the amino acid neurotransmitter glutamate does. It serves as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and is an excitotoxin.

As a neurotransmitter, aspartic acid may provide resistance to fatigue, and, thus, leads to endurance, although the evidence to support this idea is not strong.

Sources:

Dietary Sources:

Aspartic acid is not an essential amino acid, which means that it can be synthesized from central metabolic pathway intermediates in humans. Aspartic acid is found in

Animal sources: luncheon meats, sausage meat, wild game Vegetable sources: sprouting seeds, oat flakes, avocado, asparagus.

Chemical Synthesis:

Racemic aspartic acid can be synthesized from diethyl sodium phthalimidomalonate, (C6H4(CO)2NC(CO2Et)2).

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