Understanding Amino Acids

Our daily protein requirement is really a need for Amino Acids. Dietary Amino Acids are classified as “essential” or “non-essential”. Essential Amino Acids (Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine) cannot be manufactured by the body and must be supplied in the diet or ill-health results. The non-essential Amino Acids are also essential for health, but can be synthesised in the body from the essential Amino Acids. Both the essential and non-essential Amino Acids are reassembled as hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), antibodies and nutrient carriers.

The term “non-essential” may be misleading. Although Histidine was once considered an essential Amino Acid for infants only, subsequent research has determined that Histidine may also be essential for adults.  Arginine, Ornithine, Cysteine, Cystine, Taurine and Tyrosine are classified as non-essential Amino Acids but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. A suboptimal intake of the essential Amino Acids increases the body’s need for the non-essential Amino Acids.

Acetyl-L -Carnitine: Naturally present in the body and in some foods, this Amino Acid crosses the blood brain barrier (unlike L-Carnitine) and may improve memory and mood.

L Arginine: It is essential in muscle metabolism because it provides a vehicle for transport, storage and excretion of nitrogen. L-Arginine is an important component in tissue generation and regeneration. It is highly concentrated in the skin and connective tissue and helps to remove ammonia from the body as part of the urea cycle and is a precursor for the synthesis of nitric oxide.

BCAA: (Branched Chain Amino Acids: L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine) Muscle tissue is largely composed of BCAAs which are used for energy production and protein synthesis. BCAAs are also involved in the metabolismof neurotransmitters, natural chemicals in the brain which influence mood and mental functions.

L -Carnitine: Carnitine is actually a dipeptide – an amino acid made up of two other essential Aminos, Methionine and Lysine. L-Carnitine is important for fat metabolism, especially in heart and muscle cells. It is also necessary for the transport of long chain fatty acids into cell mitochondria where the acids are oxidised and burned for energy.

L -Cysteine: It is a sulphur-bearing amino acid with antioxidant properties. Important for keratin synthesis, a protein found in the skin, hair and nails, it also plays a role in energy metabolism and fatty acid synthesis.

L -Glutamine: A major fuel source for the brain and the entire body, it is found in the cerebral cortex and in various other regions of the brain. The concentration of Glutamine in the blood is three to four times greater than all other Amino Acids. It is changed by the body into Glutamic acid. L-Glutamine has also been shown to be essential for healthy immune function and digestive health.

L -Glutathione: A natural sulphur-bearing peptide formed from the linking of three Amino Acids: Glutamic Acid, Cysteine and Glycine. It acts as an antioxidant and is involved in detoxification processes of the liver as well as in amino acid transport across cell membranes.

L -Glycine: It is a natural antacid and sweetener that is involved in the synthesis of DNA, Phospholipids and Collagen. Glycine also helps keep glucose available by improving glycogen storage.

L -Histidine: It is involved in growth and repair of body tissue. Both children and adults can synthesise some Histidine in their bodies, but most Histidine comes from the diet. It is considered a semi-essential amino acid.

L -Lysine: It is important for growth, tissue repair, and the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Research efforts are being directed at a possible beneficial role of L-Lysine in effecting the herpes virus. L-Lysine is found in large quantities in muscle tissues.

L -Methionine: It is a sulphur-containing amino acid with antioxidant properties. L-Methionine is important for healthy nails and skin and for the synthesis of Taurine, L-Cysteine, Phosphatidylcholine (Lecithin), bile, L-Carnitine and endorphins.

L -Ornithine: Combined with L-Arginine, they both influence growth hormones and are necessary for proper immune and liver function.

L -Phenylalanine: It is a precursor to Tyrosine, which is used to manufacture certain hormones (epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopa, dopamine) and is better absorbed than Tyrosine. L-Phenylalanine is important for the production of chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters.

DLPA (D,L -Phenylalanine): DLPA is a mixture of the natural form of Phenylalanine (the L form) with its mirror image (the D form). DL-Phenylalanine may have the unique ability to block certain enzymes (enkephalinase) in the central nervous system that are normally responsible for breaking down natural morphine-like hormones called endorphins and enkephalins.

Taurine: A simple sulphur-containing compound and one of the most abundant Amino Acids in the body. It plays a variety of roles in the normal functioning of the brain, heart, gallbladder, eyes and vascular system. Basically, its function is to facilitate the passage of Sodium, Potassium and Magnesium ions into and out of cells and to electrically stabilise the cell membranes. Taurine is an essential amino acid in pre-term and new-born infants because they cannot synthesise it.

Tyrosine: It is a constituent of protein amino sugars and amino lipids which have important roles throughout the body. It is important to brain nutrition because it is a precursor of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. It is also an important part of peptides such as enkephalins, which serve as pain relievers in the brain. It is the precursor for hormones such as thyroxine and catecholestrogens (chemicals that are both oestrogens and catecholamines) and for the major human pigment, melanin. stocks a range of leading brand Amino Acids.