Blood Levels · Promotion/Awareness · Science

PKU Diet Graphic

Most people have never heard of PKU. Many people are not aware of what phenylalanine is, what normally happens to it in the body, let alone what would happen with an abnormality such as phenylketonuria. So explaining the need for a low-protien diet can sometimes be difficult.

After years of explaining this to people in the best way I could, this image came to me one day in college when I was explaining it to my roommate. I have finally created a graphic to depict that concept.

Hopefully you find this helpful whether you have PKU and are explaining it to friends, or if you don’t and were wondering what it’s all about.


Phenylalanine is an amino acid in protein. Normally when protein is consumed the phenylalanine is metabolized by an enzyme in the liver and changed in to tyrosine. But with PKU patients the enzyme that normally does this is not functioning properly. So if a person with PKU ate normal amounts of protein they would end up with very high phenylalanine levels which is dangerous for the brain. This is why the low-protein diet is necessary.

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