Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, so you need it in your diet. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Phenylalanine is found in protein-rich foods, such as milk, cheese, nuts, seeds, poultry and fish. It's also found in diet foods, such as diet soda, which contains aspartame.
Phenylalanine isn't a problem for most people. Diet sodas contain a warning about phenylalanine because it can pose a risk to people who have phenylketonuria (PKU). PKU is a rare condition in which the body cannot process phenylalanine. If you don't have PKU, don't worry about phenylalanine in your diet soda.
For infants and children with this disorder, consuming phenylalanine is dangerous.
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