What is an amino acid?
An amino acid is a building block of protein that acts as an intermediate in metabolism. It is a simple organic compound, containing a basic amino group (-NH2), an acidic carboxyl group (-COOH) and a unique organic R group (or side chain). It plays many chemical roles in the body.
What are the Essential Amino Acids and their types?
Essential amino acids form a subset of the amino acids. Your body requires 20 amino acids for proper functioning. Out of them, only nine are classified as essential amino acids. The body cannot produce them. They should, therefore, come from food and supplements.
The 9 essential amino acids comprise the following
Unlike fat and starch, you should take these proteins every day as the human body does not store the excess of proteins for later use. While animal proteins happen to be the best source of amino acids, vegetarians can choose from ample options including buckwheat, hemp seeds, quinoa, chia seeds, tofu, spirulina and Ezekiel bread.
Amino Acids and Essential Proteins – The Difference
Essential amino acids and essential proteins are synonymous. They are different from conditionally essential amino acids. The latter is produced by the body. Only specific conditions like stress or illness make them essential. For example, although arginine is non-essential, it must be supplemented through diet to meet the demands of the body fighting a disease like cancer.
Benefits of Amino Acids
A balanced diet helps you to get a healthy intake of all the amino acids throughout the day. Amino acids benefits include,
- Creation and growth of muscles, connective tissue and skin,
- Maintain the strength and tone of muscle,
- Source of energy for the body,
- Healing and repair,
- Healthy skin, hair and nails,
- Produce neurotransmitters, like serotonin, regulating mood, behaviour and sleep,
- Reduce fatigue, improve performance, stimulate muscle recovery and minimize soreness after exercise
- Prevent muscle breakdown and preserve lean body mass, especially in elderly adults and athletes
- Boost appetite
- Treat certain brain disorders
- Stimulate fat loss and reduce body weight
- Increase tolerance of pain
- Supports blood flow for effective performance
Few Drawbacks Of Amino Acids
Amino acids, taken through supplements, may interfere with the body’s working. Here are the following drawbacks of amino acids
- Interferes with blood sugar levels during and after surgery,
- Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should avoid supplements.
Best Food Sources Of Amino Acids
Many foods are rich in essential amino acids. You can, therefore, easily, meet your daily recommendation of the acids. Foods that contain amino acids are called complete proteins. The many sources comprise dairy products, corn, chickpeas, lentils. Also, plant-based foods like soy, buckwheat and quinoa contain substantial amounts of amino acids. You can also combine the following sources of taking amino acids with your changed diet;
- Oral supplement,
- IV infusion
The Final Words
The 9 essential amino acids should be consumed from an external source. They are vital for several bodily functions like protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption. They are present in a wide variety of animal and plant-based foods. You can obtain them easily through a healthy and balanced diet. Before taking a supplement consulting a medical practitioner is always advised.