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Thyroid UK
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amino acids and immune system function

One of the things I learned from the time I did with Hashimoto's and hypothyroidism, is that the same event (leaky gut, or gluten enteropathy in my case) which causes hypothyroid, also leads to an inability to efficiently digest protein. So at the very time you are feeling horrible from endocrine dropout, you can find yourself also the target of various opportunistic bacteria and viruses that make life miserable, because your immune system can't fight them.

I learned this from experience. I started using free essential amino acids due to sleep issues, and that was a big help. But after several years of this, I also noticed that I was free of the annoying opportunistic illnesses that I had had problems with throughout my life.

Why? Immunoglobulins (e.g. IgA) require amino acids to be manufactured in the body. There are many websites that tell you about the immune-amino connection, such as aminoacidstudies.org/immune... . But you probably will not learn it from your doctor.

The simplest indicator of what is going on in your body, is to get a Total Blood Protein test. The normal range is about 6.2-8.3 g/dl. And the lower part of that range (just as with FT3) is suspect; my doctor, upon request, researched his patient records and told me his healthy and vigorous patients all have Total Blood Protein in the upper half of that range.

11 Replies

Hi Eddie83. Thanks for info above and the link.i am amazed that your doc did that test for you. I would have to stand on my head for an hour for mine to do that possibly. It’s getting harder to know which supplements to use for the best. I have just started using gelatin, I use b12, vit D, selenium and sometimes digestive enzymes. I read a lot and try my best to look after myself ( in the absence of anyone else doing it). I am so confused with all the studies and researches. Anyway, what sort of doses did/ do you take and what difference has this made to you?


I had multiple problems related to low protein. Back pain (went to chiropractors for 28 years). Pain in right foot, for which I had surgery. Separated longhead bicep tendon along with torn labrum in right shoulder. Chronic insomnia. Not great immune function. I was warned by a woman whose 18yo son is a competitive gymnast, that she had to put him on free amino acids because his body could not obtain enough amino acids from protein foods. Once I got on a mixture of 9 essential/conditionally essential amino acids, about 10 grams per day, the back pain & insomnia went away. Gradually noticed an improvement in immune function. The only product of this type I can afford is the NOW Amino-9 blend, and it seems to work quite well. The labrum problem has improved, but the tendon issue means I'll never get full strength back in my right arm, which had been bothering me for about 15 years before the tendon separated; conventional MDs did nothing but shoot it full of hydrocortisone, which helped very little. I do not recommend that people randomly try this; I know my Total Blood Protein is below the normal range, and Betaine + digestive enzymes don't help, so free aminos seemed like a reasonable thing to try.


Thank you so much. I will try this after looking at my protein. I am worried as I don’t eat much protein


The way animals are farmed for protein in the US is mostly an environmental disaster. I haven't researched the environmental effect of making amino acids in a factory, but I suspect it has a smaller environmental footprint than animal farming, as well as being free of the dangerous bacteria associated with chicken farming.

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Thank you for posting this! And congrats on such a cooperative doctor!

My doc tested amino acid levels and then prescribed random single amino acids that made me feel worse. I eat a paleo diet and assumed my protein levels were fine. I'll get them checked out now.

May i ask how you improved your sleep with amino acids?


I use about 10grams of the NOW Amino-9 product (a blend of 9 essentials/conditionally essentials). Add 300mg of magnesium citrate and one 500mg cap of tryptophan to this. This combination has amazing sleep-promoting properties for me. However, I don't recommend you do this sort of thing unless a blood test shows you are hypoprotein (below normal range).


Oops - forgot to say thank you! Am going to the lab for testing today, thyroid/amino acids/neurotransmitters/inflammation markers. Your notes will be helpful once results are in!


good luck!


Hi, thank you for this informative post which prompted me to look at my protein results over the years ( I have them on a spreadsheet). I also have Hashimotos and another auto-immune condition I won't go into. Protein was pretty good until 2012 but had dropped down to 6.9 in 2015. My Albumin took a bit of a nose dive then too. In 2017 they were both looking great, with total protein up at 7.7, best ever!

Looking at possible causes of these changes/ links to your information above, in 2016 I had a GI Effects Stool test done. It showed that my 'Products of protein breakdown', Valerate, Isobutyrate, Isovalerate, were only 1.4 in a range of 1.8 - 9.9 mm/g. Also, that my Fecal Secretary IgA was slightly raised. Since that time approximately, I have been taking Digestive Enzymes to deal with my 'acid-reflux', which has cured me of reflux 95% of the time. It makes sense that this could be why my protein levels have gone up to healthy levels again. Hhm, food for thought ;-)

I am still trying to deal with terrible energy issues however/trying to get thyroid levels right and so I think I might look at the free essential amino acids you mention. Could you please PM the product you would recommend?

Thanks once again for your thought provoking post and hopefully others might chip in with their knowledge too.

Best wishes sue_b


Hi Eddie83 , having had a read of the article you provided the link too, I thought it read a bit like an advert. I imagine there must be good research papers on this subject on the internet somewhere but no time to check that at the mo. I followed the only research link at the bottom, which was about Glutamine and it talks about it being effective for the immune system when given parenterally, i.e. not orally. I believe I have read that supplementing with NAC to get Glutamine doesn't work because it can't get past the stomach. I might be mis-remembering but I mention this in case someone is interested in the NAC; I suggest more research before you buy. :-)


Chris Kresser’s website is excellent for gut issues, & the connection with thyroid disorders.


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