Monday, 5 August 2013

AMINES Part 5 - Biogenic Amines in Food (Phenylethylamine)

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is a natural monoamine alkaloid and a trace amine. PEA is widely used in psychoactive drugs and stimulants.

Phenylethylamine functions as a neuromodulator/neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. As usual, it is biosynthesized from the amino acid called phenylalanine by the process called enzymatic decarboxylation.

Phenylethylamine is found in foods too. A very well known food is chocolate. The microbial fermentation of the cocoa beans largely contribute to the presence of phenylethylamine in chocolates.

Dietary Supplement

Since phenylethylamine has amphetamine-like effects (as it has the ability to release noradrenalin and dopamine), the business world developed supplements with phenylethylamine. Dopamine is a hormone which plays a very important role in the feeling of wellness. Noradrenaline is a stimulant hormone which involves in increasing the heart rate, blood pressure and blood flow. These two hormones play a very important role in the feel-good-factor and also in improving exercise performance through an increase in blood delivery.

As the body exercises, the levels of phenylethylamine in the body increases. And that could be the reason why people feel good/are in a better mood after exercising.

Phenylethylamine is included in some pre-workout supplements and concentrated pre-workout supplements to increase exercise performances and elevate the mood during intensive training. Phenylethylamine is also found in some fat burners to improve the mood during the weight loss period.

The downside of taking phenylethylamine orally is that it metabolizes rapidly.

Chocolates = Happy?

Since chocolate is apparently loaded with phenylethylamine, does it mean that we will be euphoric when we consume chocolates?

Not so, it seems.

The taking of phenylethylamine orally is of not much use (because of its rapid metabolization by the MAO-B enzyme). Thus any perceptible psychoactive effect would only be possible by ingesting MAOI anti-depressants!! Now who in their right mind would swallow MAOI inhibitors/blockers to experience the effects of a chocolate high???

Foods Rich with Phenylethylamine

1. Beans, Lentils, Nuts & Seeds

High-protein food have the richest amount of phenylalanine (which the body turns into phenylethylamine).

*Phenylalanine per 100gm

  • Raw soybeans - 1910mg of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw cowpeas - 1390mg
  • Raw lentils - 1380mg
  • Raw peanuts - 1340mg (Peanuts are a big NO for me)
  • Almonds - 1150mg
  • Raw chickpeas - 1030mg
  • Raw flaxseed - 960mg
  • Tahini (made from stone-ground seeds) - 940mg
  • English walnuts - 710mg

2. Meat, Seafood & Poultry

*Phenylalanine per 100gm

  • Italian pork salami - 940gm of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw top, round beef (lean and fat) - 880mg
  • Lean raw top sirloin - 870mg
  • Raw shrimp - 860mg
  • Raw chicken thighs - 780mg
  • Raw chicken wings (with skin) - 700mg
  • Raw Italian pork sausage - 480mg
  • Raw fresh pork - 220mg

3. Dairy Products

*Phenylalaine per 100gm

  • Raw egg white - 690gm of phenylalanine (per 100gm)
  • Raw whole egg - 680mg
  • Raw egg yolk - 680mg
  • Sheep's milk - 280mg
  • Goat's milk - 160mg
  • Soy milk - 150mg
  • Whole milk - 150mg
  • Human milk - 50mg
*taken from this LINK


People with abnormally low concentrations of endogenous phenethylamine are those who seem to suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (also known as ADHD). And those who have abnormally high concentrations of endogenous phenethylamine are those who have schizophrenia.