Threonine: 7 Important Health Facts to Know About This Essential Amino Acid

January 5, 2021

Threonine: 7 Important Health Facts to Know About This Essential Amino Acid

1926 was a big year. A year that the last amino acid was discovered: Threonine (1).

To put it bluntly, our bodies would be falling apart without this essential amino acid. It’s what keeps connective tissue elastic. Bones strong. And the nervous system functioning optimally.

In this article, we reveal the 7 important health facts you need to know about threonine, including how much threonine you need to fend off deficiency, what foods you can get it from, side effects, and more.

Table Of Contents

1. What Is Threonine?

Threonine (l-threonine, Thr, T) amino acid molecule. Skeletal formula.

Threonine, or L-Threonine, is one of 20 amino acids. It makes up the protein in teeth, enamel, collagen, and elastin (2). It’s even found in high quantities in the heart. Put simply, it’s a powerful building block that keeps the body (and heart) strong, healthy, and youthful.

Threonine is an “essential” amino acid, meaning your body can’t produce it on its own. Because of this, it must be obtained from food or dietary supplements like collagen powder.

The Importance of Threonine

Here’s a little science lesson for you: Threonine creates two other amino acids—glycine and serine (3).

These two conditionally essential amino acids are crucial to the creation of muscle tissue, collagen, and elastin. Collagen is the most important protein produced by the human body, and glycine is the most abundant amino acid in collagen—making up 33% of it (4).

Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, playing the role of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cryoprotective, and immunomodulatory in peripheral and nervous tissue. Supplementation of glycine has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease, various inflammatory diseases, osteoarthritis, cancers, diabetes, and obesity (56).

Serine, on the other hand, plays a central role in cell production and in the central nervous system. Without it, brain development and functioning withers, and neurological issues arise (7).

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2. Benefits of Threonine

Human body nervous system sympathetic parasympathetic charts with realistic organs depiction and anatomical terminology vector illustration

L-Threonine is a significant amino acid for the central nervous system, immune system, liver, and more.

A full list of threonine’s health benefits includes (2):

  • Metabolizes fat
  • Prevents fat buildup in the liver
  • Alleviates indigestion
  • Reduces anxiety and mild depression
  • Strengthens connective tissue and bones
  • Keeps teeth strong
  • Relieves Celiac disease
  • Promotes sleep

3. Signs of Threonine Deficiency

Without threonine, several issues arise, including (89):

  • Gastrointestinal disorder (like eosinophilic esophagitis or colorectal cancer)
  • Neurological dysfunction (like Schizophrenia)
  • Nervous system disorder (like epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Reduces the growth of the small intestine, liver, and skeletal muscle
  • Obesity
  • Heart failure
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4. Threonine-Rich Foods

Foods that are rich in threonine include (10):

5. Threonine Dosage: How Much Should I Take Each Day?

The amount of amino acids you consume each day depends on certain key factors like age, level of physical activity, overall health, and whether you’re wanting to get a specific outcome.

However, the recommended amount of threonine that one should get from their diet ranges from 400 to over 1,000 milligrams per day.

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Here’s the full breakdown of threonine dosage, based on gender, age, and life stage (11):

When taken as a capsule for medicinal purposes, threonine doses of up to 4 grams daily for up to 12 months are regarded as safe.

6. Threonine Side Effects

Some individuals experience minor side effects such as an upset stomach, headache, nausea, and skin rash.

For those with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), threonine may be a concern when it comes to lung function. In one double-blind study, 95 patients with ALS were given either BCAAs, L-Threonine, or a placebo for 6 months. For those receiving the BCAAs and threonine, lung function decreased significantly (12).

More research is needed to evaluate whether or not threonine was the reason for this adverse effect.

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7. Can I Take Threonine with My Other Medications?

The one medication that has a negative interaction with threonine is memantine (or Namenda), an Alzheimer’s medication (13). If you’re taking this medication, talk to your doctor before adding threonine to your wellness regimen.

The Bottom Line

Amino acids are vital to your overall health and wellbeing. Without them, immunity decreases, digestive problems arise, depression heightens, and more (14).

Threonine, in particular, is an essential amino acid that plays a pivotal role in metabolizing key nutrients, maintaining gut health, and promoting high-quality sleep (15). Because threonine is an “essential” amino acid, it must be obtained from foods like pasture-raised chicken, almonds, and hemp seeds or a dietary supplement like grass-fed collagen powder.

Depending on your age, gender, and state of health, threonine dosage can vary from 400 to over 1,000 milligrams. To ensure you’re consuming adequate amounts of this essential amino acid, eat a whole food diet rich in protein and collagen.

Caroline Nicks
Article by

Caroline Nicks

Certified Health Coach and Head of Content at NativePath (aka I’m the gal responsible for ensuring that every blog we publish helps you live life a little more #OnThePath).

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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