Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that cannot be produced by the body and thus must be obtained through the diet. Dietary sources of this amino acid are principally derived from animal and vegetable proteins. Vegetables and juices contain small amounts of the free amino acid. The free amino acid is also found in fermented foods such as yogurt and miso. The alternative sweetener aspartame is a dipeptide of L-phenylalanine, as is methyl ester and L-aspartic acid. Phenylalanine is used in different biochemical processes to produce neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
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