Asparagine (abbreviated as N or Asn) is a non-essential amino acid which coded as AAC and AAU.
It has one carboxamide group on the side chain with one amino and a carboxyl group on an alpha carbon atom. So, this amino acid can be considered as an amide of aspartic acid.
It is a polar, neutral and uncharged amino acid in any biologically proper pH conditions.
It was the first non-essential amino acid to be isolated from a natural source, asparagus juice, in 1806, by French chemists Pierre Jean Robiquet and Louis Nicolas Vauquelin.
Uses and health benefits of Asparagine
- It is required for development and function of the brain.
- This non-essential amino acid also plays an important role in the synthesis of ammonia (azane).
- It is one of the main and usually the most abundant amino acids involved in the transport of nitrogen.
- Extreme mood swings apparently are mediated by the presence of this non-essential amino acid which helps the body in the maintenance of mental equilibrium.
- There is a strong connection between this amino acid with the aspartic acid. Such as, if there is a deficiency of asparagines, this will lead to low levels of aspartic acid (a α-amino acid that is used in the biosynthesis of proteins) as it’s is involved with aspartate synthesis.
- This amino acid helps maintain an equilibrium of the central nervous system and has therapeutic properties.
Food sources of asparagine
This amino acid is not essential for humans, which means that it can be synthesized from central metabolic pathway intermediates and is not required in our diet.
However, it is found in dairy products, meat, asparagus, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pecans, flaxseeds, watermelon seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soy products, potatoes, sweet potatoes, navy beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas, adzuki beans, mung beans, millet, oat bran, oatmeal, and more.
A deficiency of this amino acid may contribute to immune system suppression, that ultimately can lead to infections, autoimmune disorders, and allergic reactions.
According to the U.S National Academy of Science, a healthy adult needs 0.36 grams of this amino acid for a pound of body weight. This equals to 0.8 grams of protein per 1 Kg of body weight per individuals.
Side effects of asparagine
A reaction between this amino acid and reducing sugars or other sources of carbonyls outcomes acrylamide in food, when heated to sufficient temperature.
These products occur in baked goods such as – potato chips, French fries, and toasted bread.
Acrylamide is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen by the IARC and is considered a potential occupational carcinogen by U.S. government agencies.