Methionine is one of nine essential amino acids the body does not create on its own. It must instead be absorbed into the body by eating foods containing methionine. Meat, eggs, dairy and other animal sources provide the highest methionine quantities. Other foods with methionine include some vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds. Natural food sources are best for obtaining the required amino acids, however, some people may require supplements if they are not able to eat enough foods with methionine and other essential amino acids.
The highest amounts of natural methionine are found in egg whites, chicken breast, turkey and fish. The most common food with methionine in the highest amounts is egg white, either dried or fresh. Not all fish varieties contain high levels of this essential amino acid. Alaskan halibut cooked with the skin on contains the highest amount of methionine out of all the different types of fish. Tuna, ling, Northern pike, Pacific and Atlantic cod, haddock, cusk, sunfish and dolphinfish all contain more than 1,200 mg of methionine per serving.
Cheese products such as cottage cheese, cream cheese, cheddar and Parmesan also are high in methionine. Several green leafy vegetables, some more common than others, are high in the essential amino acid. Seaweed has the highest amount of all vegetables, although more common foods with methionine include turnip greens, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms and asparagus. Less commonly used vegetables include pumpkin leaves, bamboo shoots and taro leaves. Some vegetables have higher methionine levels when they are eaten raw, while others increase in value by being cooked.
Nuts, seeds and legumes are common foods containing methionine, although the levels per serving are not as high as those found in animal and vegetable sources. Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts and roasted pumpkin seeds contain adequate levels of methionine. Most of these can be used in their natural form or as flour to retain their methionine levels.
Kidney beans, white beans and black beans are other common foods with methionine. Soybeans and products made from soy — such as textured soy protein, soy sauce, soy flour and tofu — provide higher levels of methionine than other beans and nuts, providing a minimum of 300 mg per serving. Soy protein is commonly used in methionine and amino acid supplements when foods with methionine do not provide the necessary levels in a person’s diet.