There are 20 amino acids in total and they all play specific roles in the body. It is important to obtain a good variety and sufficient amounts of amino acids through either diet or supplementation.
Amino acids are divided into two groups: there are 11 non-essential amino acids, these can be made by the body, and 9 essential amino acids which cannot be synthesized by the body and need be consumed through diet or supplementation.
All 20 amino acids are needed for optimal health. They form the main part of protein foods like meat, fish, poultry or eggs.
Non-essential amino acids are:
Essential amino acids are:
Benefits & Uses
People involved in body building know how important amino acid are to build muscle tissue. Amino acids are crucial to maintain healthy body composition, including bone health and blood sugar balance. As mentioned before, amino acids help to maintain body composition by preserving muscle mass. This has a flow-on effect on many body systems including better mobility, less injury risk, weight management and normal blood sugar balance. These effects are also critical for elderly individuals who often struggle to sustain muscle mass.
- Individuals recovering from an illness may find support from sufficient intake of amino acids for retaining muscle mass and maintaining other important body functions
- Athletes often are conscious about their protein intake and use amino acid supplementation to support growth and repair of tissues as well as energy production
- Good nervous system function depends on availability of amino acids: they are needed to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin or dopamine and assist in healthy mood as well as muscle and nerve tissue function
- We all need a good sleep, amino acids are essential to produce calming neurotransmitters, such as GABA, but also hormones like melatonin. Amino acids that are important for sleep include tryptophan, glycine and L-theanine, which is derived from green tea.
- Amino acids assist strong immune system function: antibodies consist mainly of amino acids. The amino acids contributing to a healthy immune response include glutamine, arginine and cysteine
- Keep moving with amino acids like methionine and arginine as they work together with glucosamine and chondroitin for normal joint function, flexibility and mobility
- Amino acids are imperative for weight management, better skin, hair and nails, healthy fertility, hormone production as well as normal intestinal and liver function
An easy way to add amino acids into your daily regime is to try one of the many good quality plant, whey or soy powders – enjoy it made up as a delicious shake for a snack or as a protein addition to a main meal.