Threonine is an essential amino acid. That means it must be obtained through food as the body cannot produce it on its own. There are various food sources that contain threonine. Protein-rich foods such as legumes and nuts are good sources of threonine, which you can also find in the above threonine table along with their respective contents.
The amino acid is a component of proteins since it is a proteinogenic amino acid. It is present in the amino acid sequence of various proteins in the body and contributes to the structure and function of these proteins. Accordingly, it is involved in protein synthesis. Additionally, it is a component of the genetic code and is required for the synthesis of enzymes, antibodies, and other important proteins. Threonine is involved in the structure and function of proteins, thus contributing to the maintenance of cellular functions.
Furthermore, threonine is also a precursor for the synthesis of other biologically active molecules in the body. It serves as a starting material for the production of glycine and serine, two amino acids that are necessary for the formation of collagen, an important component of connective tissue. Threonine is involved in the structure formation of elastin by establishing a connection between the elastic fibers and contributing to the stability and flexibility of the tissue. Elastin is a structural protein found in connective tissue fibers and is responsible for the elasticity and resilience of the skin.
Threonine is important for fatty acid metabolism as it is involved in the breakdown of fatty acids. It contributes to the regulation of lipid metabolism and plays a role in normal energy production by participating in various biochemical reactions that are essential for the conversion of nutrients into energy.
Is There A Difference Between Threonine And L-Threonine?
Threonine and L-threonine are essentially the same. The "L" designation refers to the left-handed configuration of the molecule and indicates that it is the naturally occurring form. In terms of their functions and properties, threonine and L-threonine are synonymous.
There is also the mirror-image D-form (right-handed form) of threonine, which is not used in the human body and is typically not found in natural food sources. However, the D-form is used in some scientific and industrial applications.
Who Has A Higher Requirement?
A varied diet that includes various plant protein sources can meet the threonine requirement. An increased requirement may occur in certain situations. The following list reveals some of these situations:
- Endurance training or strength training can increase the need for threonine. This is because threonine is used for tissue and muscle regeneration after exercise. An increased requirement can also be caused by amino acid breakdown during training.
- In liver diseases such as cirrhosis or hepatitis, the metabolism of amino acids may be impaired. This can lead to an increased requirement since the liver is responsible for the breakdown and conversion of amino acids.
- Certain digestive system disorders such as Crohn's disease or celiac disease can impair nutrient absorption. This can result in a deficiency of various nutrients, including threonine.
- In certain neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or epilepsy, metabolic disorders can occur that may lead to an increased threonine requirement. Threonine indirectly plays a role in the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain and the regulation of metabolism in nerve cells.
Threonine Foods - Sources
The following list shows vegan foods that should be included in the diet as natural sources of threonine:
- Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, white beans, peanuts, kidney beans, and peas are rich in threonine. Soybeans and soy-based products like tofu, tempeh, and edamame are high-quality plant-based protein sources that are rich in threonine. This table shows which legumes contain a significant amount of threonine.
- Nuts, seeds, and kernels are also threonine-rich foods. Cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds, almonds, chia seeds, and flaxseeds are not only rich in threonine but also provide healthy fats and proteins. You can find the threonine values in nuts and seeds here.
- Whole grains and pseudo grains such as oats, spelt, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, and millet are not only good sources of carbohydrates but also contain threonine. You can find the table with threonine content in grains here.
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli contain moderate levels of threonine. Other vegetables such as carrots, shallots, cauliflower, lamb's lettuce, parsley roots, leeks, and kohlrabi also contribute to threonine intake. We have hidden the threonine vegetable table behind this link.
- Seaweeds such as nori, wakame, kombu, and spirulina also contain threonine and can be a good addition to soups and salads in a diverse diet.
- Although threonine is present in significantly lower amounts in fruits compared to the previously mentioned food groups, certain fruits still provide a slightly higher amount of this amino acid. These include avocados, persimmons, kiwis, mangoes, bananas, and watermelons. Dried fruits have a more concentrated protein content. Consequently, dried goji berries, peaches, apricots, banana chips, and dried coconut meat contain a higher amount of threonine.
Vegan Threonine Diet
Here are some vegan recipe ideas to incorporate threonine into your diet:
- Vegan Thai Curry with Tofu: Cook tofu and a colorful selection of vegetables in a coconut milk curry sauce. Serve it with rice or rice noodles.
- Quinoa Tabbouleh: Mix cooked quinoa with chopped parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice.
- Vegan Protein Bowl: Combine protein sources like beans, tofu, or tempeh with a variety of vegetables, whole grain rice or noodles, and a savory sauce.
- Tofu Scramble: Sauté tofu with onions, bell peppers, and spinach.
- Chickpea Broccoli Stir-Fry: Stir-fry broccoli, chickpeas, and other vegetables in a pan and season them to taste.
- Black Bean Burgers: Blend black beans with spices, onions, and oats into a mixture, shape into patties, and fry them.
- Veggie Quinoa Stir-Fry: Sauté colorful vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, and zucchini with cooked quinoa. Season to taste.
- Vegan Potato Lentil Soup: Cook red lentils and potatoes in vegetable broth, add spices, and blend into a creamy soup.
- Sautéed Tempeh with Vegetables: Sauté tempeh with a selection of colorful vegetables and serve it with a spicy sauce and rice.