In our bodies there are approximately 28 well known amino acids. These amino acids combine into numerous structures of the hundreds of differing proteins present inside all living things. Amino acids are split into two groups. These two groups are known as the essential amino acids, and the nonessential amino acids.
Essential Amino Acids
The human liver produces approximately eighty percent of the amino acids our bodies desire. The remaining twenty percent must be obtained through diet. These amino acids are known as the "essential amino acids" because our bodies are unable to produce them intrinsically. The essential amino acids that must enter our bodies through diet are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
- histidine: An essential amino acids that is important in the growth and repair of tissues. Histidine is required for the production of both red and white blood cells.
- isoleucine: One of the three branched-chain amino acids. Isoleucine is needed for hemoglobin production.
- leucine: A branched chain amino acid which may promote the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue
- lysine: An essential amino acid which is required for protein synthesis.
- methionine: An amino acid that helps in the breakdown of fats. This can prevent the buildup of fat in the liver and arteries that may obstruct bloodflow to vital organs. Methionine is a powerful antioxidant.
- phenylalanine: An essential amino acid that easily crosses the brain-blood barrier, it has an important effect on brain chemistry.
- threonine: Helps maintain proper protein balance in our bodies.
- tryptophan: Used by the brain to produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter. L-Tryptophan can help fight depression and insomnia.
- valine: is needed for muscle metabolism. It has a stimulating effect, and aids in tissue repair, and maintenance of a proper nitrogen balance.
Nonessential Amino Acids
Nonessential amino acids can be manufactured in the body from other amino acids obtained from dietary sources. Although they are termed "nonessential" it does not mean that they aren't necessary, in fact nonessential amino acids have many important functions in the human body. The nonessential amino acids include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, citrulline, cysteine, cystine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, taurine, and tyrosine.
- alanine: Aids in metabolism of glucose. Alanine also fights against the buildup of toxic substances that are released when muscle cell protein is broken down.
- arginine: Nonessential amino acid that enhances immune functions.
- cysteine: Can help to detoxify the body of harmful toxins.
- gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA): An amino acid that behaves as a neurotransmitter in the CNS (Central Nervous System). GABA can be taken to calm the body.
- glutamine: The most abundant free amino acid found in the various muscles of the body. Needed for the synthesis of skeletal muscle proteins.
- ornithine: This amino acid is required for proper immune system and liver function. High amounts of ornithine are found in skin and connective tissue.
- proline: Aids in the generation of collagen. Reduces the loss of collagen through the aging process. Proline is obtained primarily from meat sources, dairy products, and eggs.
- serine: An amino acid that is needed for proper fats and fatty acids metabolism, and the maintenance of a healthy immune system.
- taurine: Has a protective effect on the brain.
- tyrosine: Important for overall metabolic health. Tyrosine is a precursor of adrenaline and the two neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which modulate mood and increase metabolism.
Amino Acid Supplementation
When taking individual amino acids for healing purposes, take on an empty stomach. Otherwise the amino acids will have to compete for absorption with the amino acids present in food. It is recommended you take amino acids in the morning or between meals and supplement alongside small amounts of vitamin B6 and vitamin C to enhance absorption.
Individual amino acids should not be taken for prolonged periods of time. An excellent rule to follow is to switch the individual amino acids that fit your needs and back them up with an amino acid complex, taking the supplements for two months and then discontinuing them for two months.
If taking an amino acid complex that contains all of the essential amino acids. It is generally recommended you take it a half hour either before or after a meal. If you are supplementing an individual amino acid, it is best to take a full amino acid complex, including both essential and nonessential amino acids, at a different time.
Back to Amino Acids