What is GABA Deficiency and How to Improve Your Levels
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) has a calming effect on the body. Those with too little of this neurotransmitter may suffer from stress and anxiety. Read on to learn all about GABA supplements and if they are effective for improving a GABA deficiency.
What Is GABA?
Amino acids are essential to health [R]. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is one amino acid that works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. This means it works to prevent nerve impulses from being delivered to brain cells.
Glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) in brain cells converts glutamic acid into GABA. GABA synthesis is also controlled by an enzyme called transaminase. [R].
How Does GABA Work?
In the brain, GABA receptors are found on nerve cells. GABA will attach to these receptors and block the nerve transmissions. When the nerve is blocked from firing a calming and relaxing effect takes place.
Signs of a GABA Deficiency
- Insomnia and poor sleep
- High alcohol intake
- GABA-transaminase deficiency
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Stiff-person syndrome
- Movement disorders
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Benefits of GABA Supplements
Nitric oxide and GABA concentrations increased in the brains of rats after taking a combination of GABA and L-arginine [R].
How To Increase GABA
Those with a GABA deficiency should look to increase GABA production. This can be done by eating foods with GABA and other nutrients. Taking supplements may be another way to increase GABA levels.
GABA Supplements Dosage Recommendations
GABA supplements have been created as a way to improve GABA levels. Look for a product with quality ingredients that have been third party tested.
There is not enough research to determine the recommended intake dose. Follow product instructions and start as low a dose as possible to see how it affects you [R].
Food Sources of GABA
GABA can also be obtained from food. It is found in the following [R]:
- Cruciferous vegetables
- Adzuki bean
- Lupin bean
- Sweet Potato
- Wild celery
Contraindications and Risk with GABA Supplements
Like any supplement, there can be side effects and contraindications with using GABA.
Side Effects of GABA Supplements
Short-term use of GABA is likely safe when used for up to 12 weeks at a time. Long-term effects have not been determined [R].
Side effects have been reported with GABA use. These include upset stomach, headache, sleepiness, and muscle weakness [R].
Contraindications of GABA Supplements
There is no information on medical interactions with GABA Supplements. It is best to talk to a health professional before starting GABA if you are on medications or have any health conditions [R].
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid this supplement.
Final Thoughts on GABA Deficiency and Supplements
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) supplements have shown positive effects on anxiety, stress, sleep, and blood pressure. If you have signs of a GABA deficiency getting GABA from food sources or taking a supplement may be helpful. There is still a lot unknown about these supplements and their long-term effects. If you are someone who has health conditions or is on medications. It is important to talk to a health professional to find out if GABA supplements are right for you
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