Methionine does a lot more than build protein. This amino acid helps produce substances that support your metabolism, and it's especially vital for synthesizing a powerful antioxidant called glutathione. It's an essential amino acid, meaning it must be obtained through your diet because your body can't make it. But if you plan a varied menu with protein-rich foods, such as meats and poultry, and veggies, such as corn, spinach and broccoli, you should easily meet your daily methionine requirement.
Methionine is one of only a few sulfur-containing amino acids, which is an important distinction because sulfur influences the way it works. It helps synthesize two substances: S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, and glutathione. SAMe supports many metabolic activities throughout your body, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. It maintains cell membranes, strengthens your immune system and is essential for production of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Glutathione works as an antioxidant, protecting cells from reactive molecules -- free radicals -- that can damage them. Methionine also helps prevent diet-induced fatty liver disease, according to the June 2014 issue of the scientific journal “Molecules.”
Top Food Sources
You’ll get the most methionine from meat, poultry and fish because they're rich in protein, which contains methionine. One of the best sources is beef sirloin roast, a lean meat that provides 0.8 gram of methionine in a 3-ounce serving. Other good sources include skinless chicken breast, salmon and tuna. Beans contain more methionine than most plant-based foods. One cup of cooked soybeans or a similar amount of beans, such as kidney, white or black beans, has about 0.2 gram of methionine.
Other Good Choices
Dairy foods are good sources of methionine, with about 0.2 gram in 1 cup of low-fat milk or yogurt. A 1-ounce serving of sesame seeds, hazelnuts or pecans contains about 0.1 gram, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some vegetables to choose from include a baked potato and 1-cup servings of lima beans, sweet corn, spinach and broccoli. They all provide about 0.1 gram of methionine per serving.
Healthy adults should consume 19 milligrams of methionine daily for every 2.2 pounds of body weight. Taking methionine supplements is considered safe, but be sure to follow the dosage instructions. Methionine is converted into homocysteine, and consuming more than five times the recommended amount of methionine may boost the levels of homocysteine in your blood, according to a report in the “Journal of Nutrition” in 2006. When homocysteine stays high for a long time, it can damage your arteries and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Journal of Nutrition: The Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids -- An Overview
- University of Maryland Medical Center: S-Adenosylmethionine
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Glutathione
- Molecules: Sulfur Amino Acids in Diet-Induced Fatty Liver: A New Perspective Based on Recent Findings
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids (Macronutrients)
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Methionine
- Journal of Nutrition: Toxicity of Methionine in Humans
- FamilyDoctor.org: Coronary Artery Disease: High Homocysteine Level: How it Affects Your Blood Levels
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Methionine: Beef Products, Pork Products, Poultry Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Methionine: Finfish and Shellfish Products
- Photo Credit Rasulovs/iStock/Getty Images
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Chicken, Broilers or Fryers, Breast, Meat Only, Cooked, Roasted
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Methionine: Nut and Seed Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Methionine: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Soybeans, Green, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beans, Kidney, All Types, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, With Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beans, White, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Beans, Black, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, Without Salt
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists: Methionine: Dairy and Egg Products
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