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Diet and Nutrition

Uric acids and amino acids?

06/06/2006

Question:

My husband has what seems to be a tendancy for gout arthritis in his knees. He has starting taking a liquid protein from GNC that has amino acids.

Are these the types of acids that can cause gout?

Answer:

Thanks for your question. If your husband is suffering from gout, additional amino acids in his diet are unlikely to be helpful, and may be harmful.

Uric acid is a chemical which is produced naturally due to the metabolism of food and bodily tissues. The level in the blood can be measured and shows how much there is in the body. Excess uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricaemia. The uric acid which is normally dissolved in the blood may occasionally form microscopic crystals in the joint causing inflammation in the joint and gout. Purines are substances found in food, which, when broken down produce a lot of uric acid. The following foods contain significant amounts of purines:

  • Liver, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads and tongue.
  • Excessive amounts of red meat.
  • Shellfish, fish roe and scallops.
  • Peas, lentils and beans.
  • Alcohol intake should be also reduced because it raises uric acid in the blood.

    I could not find any research for or against the use of amino acid supplements in the treatment of gout. But, if your husband's diet is adequate in protein from both plant and animal sources (i.e. beans, grains, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, etc), it is unlikely he needs amino acids supplements.

    Excess amino acids (whether from supplements or protein) can put strain on the kidneys in getting rid of excess nitrogen from amino acid metabolism. It is unclear if the excess urea from amino acid breakdown affects uric acid levels in the blood.

    My advice would be to limit the foods mentioned above, avoid alcohol and not use amino acid supplements. Your husband's physician can prescribe medication to reduce uric acid and treat the inflammation and pain associated with gout. Good luck.

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    Response by:

    Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
    Adjunct Faculty
    University of Cincinnati