Also know simply as Asn, asparagine is a non-essential amino acid that is found in a number of different sources. First identified in 1806, asparagine is also sometimes referred to as aspartic acid. The popular name for the amino acid came about due to the discovery of the compound in asparagus juice. Since that time, the amino acid has been identified in a wide range of foods consumed in just about every culture around the world.
Asparagine has since been found in a number of different animal and plant sources. Some seafood also contains the amino acid, as do poultry and eggs. Dairy products like milk and cheese also contain small amounts of the acid. Even beef is known to contain some amounts of Asn.
Different plants are also sources of asparagine. In addition to asparagus, the acid is found in some root vegetables, such as potatoes. Whole grains such as wheat and oats are also excellent sources of the compound, as are some types of legumes and soy. Various types of nuts also contain Asn. This ingestion of the acid from natural sources, when coupled with the amount of Asn produced naturally in the body, is usually sufficient for the health needs of the individual.
While not considered an essential amino acid, there is no doubt that asparagine does have a positive effect on the body. The liver is capable of creating asparagine for the body and uses it to help feed the nervous system. The presence of the acid helps the system to maintain proper emotional balance, sometimes by preventing the development of a high degree of sensitivity to touch and sound. At the same time, the amino acid has properties that seem to help the body to resist fatigue. This has led to some speculation that the use of asparagine supplements could be helpful for athletes, although there is no consensus on this particular application.
When the liver fails to produce proper levels of asparagine, the function of the nervous system is adversely affected. This may manifest as sudden and somewhat painful headaches, a noticeable increase in irritability, forgetfulness and even the onset of depression. Assuming that the liver has not been permanently damaged, it is possible to address the underlying cause for the malfunction of the liver, and allow the organ to resume producing sufficient amounts of Asn to alleviate any negative symptoms that occur as a result of the deficiency.