Amino acids are essential for the overall development of the body since they are building blocks of protein joined together by peptide bonds.
They are found in various body parts and are used in every cell and tissue for structural development.
The translocation of nutrients as well as their storage in our bodies also relies heavily on amino acids.
For this reason, there is need to understand why amino acids are important, how they are broken down by enzymes, their benefits, and side effects.
We will discuss all these in the article below, alongside the foods that are rich in amino acids.
Amino Acids Readers:Click here to find out why Noom is our top choice.
What are Amino Acids?
These are available in the body as organic compounds that act as protein building blocks or free amino acids.
In their formula, they include an amine group, a carboxyl group, and a side chain. Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen are the main elements that make up amino acids although the side chain may feature a variety of other elements.
Amino acids are made of NH2, H, COOH, and R, where R can be any element.
These groups are further linked by peptide bonds. Scientists argue that there are over 500 amino acid groups in your body, but only about 20 of them are visible on the code.
Water is the main constituent of your muscles as well as tissue while amino acids come in second.
These organic nutrients are also essential in influencing neurotransmitters and biosynthesis.
When you want to classify amino acids, you have to consider their pH, polarity, form of side chain, location, and structure of the function group.
After the extensive review, scientists are able to identify two types of amino acids: proteinogenic and nonproteinogenic.
What are the 21 Amino Acids?
There are 21 amino acids that may be referred to as proteinogenic. These are further subdivided into:
These are essential amino acids that trigger the production of proteins in the muscles. They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Acidic and Basic Amino Acids
Aspartic and glutamic acid are referred to as acidic amino acids while arginine, histidine, and lysine are basic.
Glucogenic and Ketogenic Amino Acids
Gluconeogenesis is the process through which amino acids are changed into glucose. This conversion happens to all glucogenic amino acids except lysine and leucine.
Other amino acids can be regenerated into ketones, which is essential to the brain in case you abstain from food or have a diet that is low in carbohydrates.
These include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. They also act as neurotransmitters.
Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids
Cysteine, homocysteine, methionine, and taurine contain sulfur.
They can be found in a variety of foods while others can be synthesized naturally in the body. Homocysteine is synthesized in your body when the proteins are being broken down.
Certain energy drinks and red meat are considered rich in taurine. This also applies to fish.
Cysteine and methionine can be obtained from multiple animal and plant foods that include tuna, cheese, ham, pork, certain legumes, seeds, and nuts.
What Amino Acids are Essential?
The essential amino acids include:
They are critical to the human health, but since they are not naturally produced in the body, you need to consume the foods that are rich in them.
Conditionally Essential Amino Acids
Conditionially essential amino acids include:
This means that they are produced in the human body.
However, you will need to consume specific foods to meet the required level of such amino acids in when you are ill or working out.
Children may also need to supplement their levels of conditionally essential amino acids by increasing their intake of the food rich in the acids.
What Amino Acids are Nonessential?
Alanine (Ala), Asparagine (Asn), Aspartic acid (Asp), Glutamic acid (Glu), and Selenocysteine (Sec) are the nonessential amino acids.
These are naturally produced by the body from fatty acids, glucose, or even amino acids themselves.
Since they are synthesized in the body in enough quantities, you need not consume any foods to get them.
Where to Find Amino Acids?
There are two types:
The former amino acids are found in all the proteins in cells before they are broken down by enzymes and translated in the ribosomes.
Since the enzyme posttranslational modifications take place while the proteins are being translated and translocate in the endoplasmic reticulum, some proteins will be made containing the D-amino acids. In the cells, the major amino acids are found in the ribosomes.
Amino Acids in Foods
There are numerous foods that contain proteins as mentioned earlier, and they help in creating an amino acid pool.
When a type of food is found to comprise all nine essential amino acids, it is said to be a complete protein.
Animal foods that are complete protein include liver found in chicken, pork, beef, eggs, milk, various types of cheese, turkey, goose etc. Most beef cuts and yogurts have been described as incomplete proteins.
Plants foods that are complete protein include various types of beans, potatoes, certain peas, pumpkin seed and spinach.
However, we have incomplete protein plant foods such as rice, pasta, white bread, nuts, specific types of beans, and peas.
The foods that have mycoprotein are also said to contain high quality proteins, and they have certain amino acids types.
There are, however, the limiting amino acids that are contained in specific foods in extremely low amounts.
This limits the complete synthesis of such proteins so as not to completely replenish the amino acid contents.
For example, nuts are said to contain lysine as the limiting amino acid while methionine and cysteine are limited in legumes.
To prevent this limiting effect from taking place, it is important that you ingest multiple foods that add up to adequate levels of all the essential amino acids.
You could also opt for the complementary proteins that will provide the essential amino acids when consumed together.
Take for example, if you have included cereals in your diet, you should know they have low lysine but their methionine levels are high.
To counter the limiting effect of the former amino acid, you could add beans in the diet.
This is because beans have high methionine and low lysine. You should not, however, be forced to include these foods in similar meals.
You could spread them in various meals within a week or so provided you get each amino acids in food sufficiently.
An amino acids table could also help you consume sufficient levels of amino acids.
If the high-quality protein foods are not able to provide sufficient amino acids in your body, you may opt for supplements.
This is most common with people who have gastro-intestinal tract problems because the amino acids found in supplements are free to form.
This means that they will not need to undergo the digestive process. As a result, they are known as free amino acids.
What are Amino Acids Good For?
When you consume proteins, they are broken down in the body into amino acids.
The amino acids in protein are then used in the body to facilitate functions such as muscle building.
This is partly why people looking to workout take protein supplements.
Besides gaining more energy for motivated physical fitness, you will be able to attain the desired appearance.
For the people looking to lose extra fat and build leaner bodies, consuming foods or other items high in proteins is crucial.
The roles that proteins play in your body will help you understand why amino acids are important.
For specificity in the analysis of what amino acids are good for, we would like to approach each individually.
This is because they play major roles in boosting your health.
On the same note, if you do not get all the amino acids needed by the body, it will not synthesize proteins as required.
Amino Acid Benefits
If you have inflammation issues, especially for the people with injuries to the joints tissues or muscles, you should consume foods high in proteins.
To be specific, the branched-chain amino acids help your body to synthesize more proteins in such parts.
This brings an anti-inflammatory effect on the affected part.
This is why athletes and fitness individual opt for protein supplements.
According to scientists, amino acids are essential in decreasing abdominal fat deposits as well as storage.
They also help in weight reduction since they regulate metabolic processes for fat burning.
This is a great way for you to stay healthy as chronic diseases related to vital body parts like the heart are kept at bay.
Prevention of muscle damage
As you undertake your physical fitness sessions, your muscles are damaged, although they recover after a short period.
In some instances, however, the muscle fiber may undergo continues breakdown to increase the energy needed for exercise.
To help heal the muscles and prevent this damage from occurring in the future, you should take foods or supplements high in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs).
This ensures that only the healthy proteins in your body undergo synthesis for energy production.
Increased cognitive ability
Sometimes you may notice that your mental performance is low, a condition that is attributable to the increased production of tryptophan.
This is a precursor to serotonin, and it causes your brain to relax, thus slowing down the neurotransmitters.
To boost your mental abilities, you need to increase your intake of BCAAs, which will prevent the excessive production of tryptophan.
Amid multiple tasks or exercises, your body may convert all the stored glycogen into energy.
With the glycogen depleted, you will feel tired than usual, especially in the afternoon when you may crave a siesta.
Consuming amino acids in the protein is a great method of improving your glycogen levels in the body.
Their conversion to energy is also reduced in the process and you will stay energized all day long.
This will help you endure long hours of working out since the amino acids in DNA will be synthesizing more proteins.
Muscle build up
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the latter is the main constituent of lean muscle.
If you are looking to increase your muscles, then you should take items rich in leucine.
Nevertheless, the BCAAs also aid in muscle growth even in the individuals who are not working out.
Amino acids are also the main components that boost your immune system.
In this case, if your immunity is low, lab tests will also show inadequate levels of L-glutamine, L-arginine, and L-cysteine in your body.
L-arginine can be used alongside elements such as magnesium to help in the management of menopause.
It also works together with L-lysine, zinc, and vitamin C to help with gastrointestinal tract problems.
Do you have Tinnitus? If you so, L-arginine will help because it boosts blood and oxygen circulation around the organs.
Women want to see their hair and nails grow in the most appealing manner.
If you are looking to strengthen your nails and reduce hair loss, you should ingest supplements or foods high in L-arginine, L-methionine, L-cysteine, L-lysine, L-glycine, as well as L-proline.
These amino acids also work together to give you a healthy, natural skin.
L- cysteine, L-glutathione, and L-carnitine will work together in producing an anti-aging effect in your body.
This is enabled by the antioxidant property of the amino acids that protect your skin cells against free radicals.
L-arginine, L-carnitine, and L-cysteine are amino acids used to increase the sperm count and their quality.
This directly boosts male fertility, which is a problem most men face.
When L-arginine is blended with an extract from a pine bark, they create a natural treatment for impotence.
This boosts male stamina alongside testosterone production that helps with cases of erectile dysfunction.
Amino Acid Side Effects
When consuming BCAAs, it is important that you ingest them orally. Be it as it may, amino acids may cause fatigue and sometimes, reduced coordination.
If consumed in excess, amino acids can cause issues of restlessness, and in few occasions, fast heart rates.
In case you have liver complications or kidney, you need to talk to your physician before using BCAA supplements because amino acids are used in every cell.
Amino acids do not come with any severe side effects.
However, if you intend to use supplements, you need to know that they might come with multiple side effects depending on the ingredients used.
As such, make sure to research the side effects of each of the supplement’s ingredients before using it.
Amino Acids For Weight Loss
Somatotropin is a hormone that is used to burn fats in the body.
Although it is available as an injection, the obsession for losing weight has led to its increased cost.
Because certain amino acids have been found to trigger the natural production of this fat-burning hormone, it has become the most preferred strategy.
You are advised to take Arginine, Carnitine, Glutamine, and Methionine in large quantities before sleeping to stimulate the secretion of the hormone.
Amino acids used for weight loss will work better if you take them in an empty belly. This aids in the burning of excess fats, which leads to weight loss.
These are some of the lipotropic amino acids and they all regulate metabolic processes.
If you are looking to lose weight fast and more efficiently, you should go for supplements rich in amino acids.
For some individuals, supplements are not that appealing. As such, they opt to increase their intake of foods high in amino acids.
Although this is a natural simulation of the fat burning hormone, it will be difficult to eat up all the foods that could meet the required amino acid levels.
If you take supplements containing amino acids used for weight loss and you do not notice any change, you should consider changing the amino acids types.
This is because different amino acids respond differently to your body needs, implying that they will affect your weight in varying ways.
This is especially so when dealing with a precursor.
Facts About Amino Acids
Are amino acids proteins?
Amino acids and proteins are constantly confusing. Amino acids are building blocks of proteins. The amino acids in food are obtained from complete protein types of foods or supplements.
Are amino acids polar?
Some amino acids have polar side chains, but they are not charged.
These amino acids can stay in water-based environments.
They include serine, threonine, asparagine, glutamine, histidine, and tyrosine. You will find these six amino acids on the protein’s surface.
Are amino acids hydrophobic?
Not all amino acids are hydrophobic. Only 9 of them are and they include valine, leucine, isoleucine, proline, phenylalanine, tryptophane, cysteine and methionine.
The side chains of these nine amino acids are made of carbon and hydrogen.
The hydrophobic amino acids feature minimal dipole moments and will repel from the water.
Are amino acids soluble in water?
Amino acids are generally soluble in water and this state can be explained by the zwitterions.
Are amino acids safe?
Amino acids are found in proteins and their intake is recommended for the healthy growth and development of the body.
They also come with multiple benefits as discussed above.
Nonetheless, if you are using amino acids supplements, you should know that BCAAs are safer when orally ingested than when they are injected intravenously.
Bottom Line on Amino Acids
Amino acids are the constituents of proteins and come with varying benefits to the body.
They feature an amine group, a carboxyl group, and a side chain that varies from one amino acid to the next.
In every meal, you take, be sure to include foods rich in amino acids because they play a major role in boosting their levels in your body.
To help you with this, you should prepare an amino acids table to know what foods to eat and when.
The types of foods you choose will vary depending on the level of proteins in them.
Some foods are protein-rich while others contain limited quantities.
You should also know that different foods contain different types of amino acids. It is, therefore, up to you to understand the various types of amino acids and the differences between amino acids and proteins.
You may also notice that many amino acids supplements are now available in the market.
These organic compounds are popular among athletes and fitness experts who use them to boost protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Before using amino acids supplements, however, you should talk to a health professional for further analysis and recommendations.