Do you have to memorize all 8 essential amino acids? If you’re taking a chemistry class or are in medical school, it can be tough to memorize lots of technical terms. One way to do that is by using a “mnemonic.” This is a pattern of things like letters and ideas that make it easier to remember stuff. There are many famous ones like the Alphabet Song that many people are familiar with. However, it’s tougher to find ones for things like essential amino acids (EAAs) or non-essential amino acids (NEAAs). The good news is there are various ones that exist and can certainly be effective for memorizing everything from Leucine to Lysine, and from Valine to Phenylalanine.
AS always, it’s important to pick a mnemonic that works for you. When memorizing EAAs, for example, some of the options include: Try This VIP Mall. These can be effective but even memorizing the Mnemonic itself. For example, PV HIM HALL might be easier to remember and thus more effective in learning the amino acids that people must get through food and supplements. It’s all about figuring out the best option to remember the EAAs.
The Essential Amino Acids
There’s some debate in the industry about how many essential amino acids there are. You might hear 8, 9, 10, or even other figures. In most cases these are the amino acids that are usually included in a list of EAAs:
- Histidine *
All of these are building blocks of protein like the other aminos. EAAs are called “essential” because we always have to get them through food/supplements. These differ from the 11 “non-essential” amino acids (NEAAs). These are different since the body produces them already.
There’s some crossover between EAAs and NEAAs. For example, about half the NEAAs are “conditionally essential.” In other words, factors like stress and illness can require people to sometimes get NEAAs from food/supplements. During other times the human body produces enough of them.
Then there’s the issue of the total number of EAAs. In general 9 EAAs are recognized since they’re the most common ones. One factor is that there are actually 22 amino acids in the human body. However, 20 of them are the most common, which can cause the number of EAAs and NEAAs to be slightly higher if you’re talking about all the major/minor amino acids.
Another issue is whether or not there are 8 or 9 major EAAs. The wild card is “histidine” since adult bodies don’t process it. Some experts include it as one of the “conditionally essential” aminos. Meanwhile, sometimes it’s simply not included in the list of EAAs at all.
What’s the big deal about these issues? Your teacher/professor might require you to learn 8, 9, or 10 EAAs. The mnemonics tend to include 9. If your teacher doesn’t count Histidine, for example, then you’ll just have to take note. However, using mnemonic will still make it easier to memorize all the technical terms.
8 Essential Amino Acids: Mnemonics
There are different mnemonics you can use to memorize the 8/9/10 essential amino acids.
PVT TIM HALL
This will help you remember 10 EAAs, which is one more than what’s usually included in the count. First, there’s PVT (Private). It starts with Phenylalanine, which has a large side-chain so it should be included first. Then there’s Valine is the second amino and sounds like the adjective “valiant,” which is often used to describe soldiers. Finally, the third letter is Threonine. The amino sort of sounds like “three” and is the third letter in the mnemonic.
That brings us to TIM. The first letter represents Tryptophan, which could symbolize an army private who travels a lot overseas. However, this might cause him to feel isolated from his own family, which is represented by Isoleucine. However, Time realizes that there’s a “method” related to this traveling since he’s representing his country. This stands for Methionine.
Then there’s the last name of Private Tim: HALL. This stands for Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, and Lysine. Private Tim is proud of his military service’s “history.” Sometimes the traveling is “arduous” (difficult) sometimes, which standards or Arginine. However, he still feels “lucky” (Leucine) when he is able to “lie” (Lysine) his own hands on his home country’s soil.
Why does this mnemonic have 10 aminos? The “extra” one is Arginine, which is only needed during fast growth/development including childhood. Another issue is the body produces arginine, which makes it partially non-essential.
TRY THIS VIP MALL
Another popular mnemonic is: TRY THIS VIP MALL
- Try: TRYptophan
- THIS: THreonine, HIStidine
- VIP: Valine, Isoleucine, Phenylalanine,
- MALL: Methionine, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine
Like the first mnemonic, this one includes Arginine. If you’re not required to memorize it then just remember not to include it in your list of EAAs. However, it’s much easier for them memorizing 8-10 EAAs without connecting them with a memorizing system.
Top Benefits of EAAs
If you’re never getting tired during workouts then you’re doing something wrong. However, there are certain EAAs that can help to delay the process. This allows you to get in some extra reps/sets until you start feeling fatigued.
This benefit can make workouts longer and thus help to boost muscle-building. The process of building muscle involves pushing them to the limit so there are tiny tears in muscle tissue. The tear/repair process is what leads to lean muscle mass.
Some aminos are important for appetite control. Studies show that protein can boost how full you feel after consuming it. This explains why we often say that meat like beef, pork, and chicken are “heavy.” It’s not really a bad thing and helps to explain why meat can take up to two full days to digest completely.
EAAs can also help your brain to get the signal that you’re full. This can prevent you from over-eating and gaining weight.
This might be a surprising one but some aminos can help in the process of body detox. This includes getting rid of stuff the body doesn’t need like heavy metals. The fancy term for this is “chelating agent” but it involves the body getting rid of extra heavy metals it doesn’t need.
There are various processes but the most critical one is related to muscle building/repairing. For example, all 9 EAAs (and 11 NEAAs) are required if you want to build lean muscle mass. This is a critical requirement for muscle building. Even if you spend 2 hours per day in the gym it won’t mean much if you aren’t feeding your muscles the nutrients they need.
EAAs are also critical for muscle repair. After a tough workout, you’ll likely experience sore muscles within a day or two. Speeding up the cover process can involve the 8 essential amino acids.