An Introduction to the Science of Balanced Brain Health Support

CHK Nutrition’s amino acid formulas provide normal, balanced support of the following neurotransmitters:*

  • Serotonin – known to control mood, appetite, sleep, memory, learning, and temperature regulation.
  • Dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine (the catecholamines) – known to control movement, balance, motivation, and the drive for reward.

Why administering serotonin or catecholamines is not an option

Serotonin and the catecholamines cannot be directly administered to support normal brain health because they are unable to cross the protective layer around the brain known as the blood brain barrier. Thankfully, serotonin can be supported by 5-HTP. The catecholamines can be supported by L-tyrosine and L-dopa (naturally sourced from Mucuna).

Serotonin Pathway

The Catecholamines Pathway

Our early research – shifting research to a bigger picture

When our research began over twenty years ago, there was a lot of interests in 5-HTP, which supports serotonin. However, very few articles, companies or providers examined the importance of the catecholamines. As our researched continued, it was clear that brain support needed more than 5-HTP.

Our early research – setting ourselves apart 

As our scientific research continued, we focused on supporting the enzyme that converts 5-HTP into serotonin and L-dopa into dopamine. As illustrated above, these reactions share the same enzyme. While the ratio and chemistry are more complex than intended to be covered in this introduction, this research found that when using nutritional supplements to support normal serotonin and the catecholamines, these nutrients must be balanced (discussed further below).

Without properly balanced nutrients, it is possible to do more harm than good when using amino acid support

Our formulation and premium products

It took almost four years to research our amino acid formulas and almost six years before our products were available to healthcare providers because we wanted to be certain of accuracy, applicability, quality and consistency. Our products quickly found success because we have been able to offer quality controlled, premium ingredients that offer reliable, normal balanced brain, gut and overall health support. We are proud that research did not stop at our formulations. Twenty years later, our products continue to be used in on- going research and our commitment to quality has been unwavering.

Why does a shared enzyme matter to balanced amino acid administration?

A simple explanation is that administering 5-HTP at a ratio higher than recommended will reduce the access L-dopa has to the shared enzyme. L-dopa will not be able to convert into dopamine at the appropriate rate. The same is true if you administer tyrosine or L- dopa at a ratio higher than recommended. These precursors will crowd out 5-HTP, reducing its conversion into serotonin.

Eventually, the reduced conversion of the outnumbered group will result in the depletion of serotonin or dopamine, depending on which precursor is outnumbered. This depletion will have implications throughout the body. This depletion can occur from the administration of only serotonin precursors, only dopamine precursors, or an incorrectly balanced ratio of both.

This is why, It is possible to do more harm than good by administering incorrectly balanced amino acid precursors

A Few Key Points about Serotonin and Catecholamine Support – Beyond Balance


 Serotonin Support

  • 5-HTP is the most direct way to support normal serotonin
  • 5-HTP crosses the blood brain barrier
  • 5-HTP is freely converted into serotonin without biochemical feedback inhibition
  • 5-HTP is more efficient at supporting serotonin than tryptophan

For serotonin support, 5-HTP is superior to tryptophan because tryptophan hydroxylase, which converts tryptophan into 5-HTP, is limited in terms of enzymatic activity. Once tryptophan hydroxylase reached its threshold, additional tryptophan will not yield more 5- HTP. Therefore, tryptophan does not support serotonin as well as 5-HTP.

5-HTP is found in very trace amounts in a very small number of foods. Therefore, 5-HTP supplementation is the most direct way of administering additional 5-HTP.


Catecholamine Support

  • L-tyrosine and L-dopa have an important role in supporting the catecholamine system
  • L-tyrosine and L-dopa cross the brain’s protective

When supplementing with L-dopa, L-tyrosine supports normal L-dopa levels in the body without fluctuations. L-dopa is the intermediary molecule between L-tyrosine and dopamine. L-tyrosine’s ability to maintain normal L-dopa levels is essential for consistent catecholamine levels. Until recently, L-tyrosine’s importance was not well understood, making it an often overlooked nutrient for supporting catecholamine health.