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Amino Acids : The building blocks of the body

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of the body. They are also sources of energy, like fats and carbohydrates. However, amino acids are structurally characterized by the fact that they contain nitrogen (N), whereas fats and carbohydrates do not.

Therefore, only amino acids are capable of forming tissues, organs, muscles, skin and hair.

The importance of amino acids as the precursors of enzymes and neurotransmitters is often underestimated. As such, amino acids regulate almost all of the metabolic processes in the human body, and they are essential for a healthy body.

Amino acids are extremely versatile. Although more than 200 different amino acids exist, the most well-known are the 22 so-called proteinogenic amino acids.

The most well-known way to classify amino acids is based on human health requirements.

  • Essential amino acids

Essential amino acids are called “essential”, because the human body cannot make (“synthesize”) them. It is therefore essential that they are consumed through food in sufficient amounts. Eight are essential for adults, and infants require an extra two:

  • L-phenylalanine L-valine
  • L-threonine
  • L-tryptophan
  • L-isoleucine
  • L-methionine
  • L-histidine(essential for infants only)
  • L-arginine (essential for infants only)
  • L-leucine
  • L-lysine

 

  • Non-essential amino acids

Five amino acids are non-essential for humans, because they can be synthesized in the body.

  • L-alanine
  • L-asparagine
  • L-glutamic acid
  • Asparagine
  • L-serine
  • Semi-essential amino acids (conditionally essential amino acids)

Amino acids are semi-essential or “conditionally essential”, when they cannot be produced in sufficient amounts by the body. This can happen in special conditions, such as prematurity in infants or in individuals under severe catabolic distress (such as extreme hunger or crash diets).

There are six semi-essential amino acids:

  • L-arginine: Arginineis classified as a semi-essential, because born infants are unable to synthesize or create arginine internally, making the amino acid nutritionally essential for them. Additional supplementation has significant health benefits in adults.
  • L-tyrosine: If not sufficiently consumed, the essential amino acid L-phenylalanine is used to make L-tyrosine.
  • L-cysteine
  • L-glycine
  • L-glutamine
  • L-proline

 

Health benefits of Amino acids:

  • Helps fight arthritis
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improves muscle and strength
  • Supports weight loss
  • Better hair, skin and nails
  • Boosts sperm quality
  • Anti-ageing effects
  • Natural impotence cure
  • Manages sleep and mood
  • Natural anti-inflammatory
  • Helps fight cancer
  • Manages menopause
  • Blood sugar management

 

Top amino acid foods:

Amino acids occur in very different concentrations within different foods. Generally meat, dairy and seafood are more complete sources of amino acids. However, top quality vegetarian and vegan sources such as quinoa, amaranth and tofu, peas boast complete protein profiles.

The term “complete” refers to foods that contain all nine essential amino acids present in the correct proportion for our bodies to build protein with.

 

Animal based sources:

  • Egg
  • Beef
  • Poultry
  • Shellfish
  • Fish

Plant based sources:

  • Quinoa
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Amaranth

Conclusion:

Being the building blocks of the body and with numerous health benefits, individuals have various reasons to en-corporate them in the diet. Meirion Jones, a well-known BBC journalist, reported that contrary to years ago, many doctors have now confirmed that a supply of amino acids (also by way of nutritional supplements) has positive effects.

 

 

 

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