Can amino acids be non-conditional AND essential? It’s possible in some situations when the body doesn’t produce enough of particular amino acid. Fun Fact: Six of the 11 non-essential amino acids are “conditionally essential.” In other words, the body produces the amino acids normally but sometimes doesn’t make enough of them. In these situations, you’ll have to increase your intake through food/supplements. That’s the condition when you’ll have to take that action. It’s important to know the signs when your body isn’t making enough of conditionally essential amino acids. In that case, you’ll have to boost your intake through outside sources.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The main sources are either through the body making aminos naturally. These are the non-essential aminos. Then there are essential aminos that people must always get from food/supplements since the body procures them. In the case of conditionally essential, it’s in the mushy middle. The body usually produces the aminos but sometimes it doesn’t make enough of them. When that happens you’ll have to get more from outside sources. So you’ll want to know which foods contain particular NEAAs. You’ll then know which ones to add to your diet when necessary.
What Are Amino Acids All About?
Proteins are one of the three macronutrients that humans need for energy. The other two are carbs and fat. The best-known sources of protein are ones like meat, eggs, beans, and dairy. However, there are other options including fish, whole grains, nuts/seeds, etc.
It’s important to get enough of all 20 amino acids. That includes the non-essential aminos (NEAAs) the body produces. Then there are essential aminos (EAAs) we have to consume through food and supplements. The reason is the human body doesn’t produce them.
It’s critical to consume enough food/supplements for EAAs. This can help to make sure our health is on track. If we don’t get enough of those EAAs it can cause various health issues. That’s a situation you’ll want to avoid.
There are two kinds of proteins in terms of the number of amino acids they have. Complete proteins include fish, eggs, and soybeans. They have all 9 amino acids and enough of them for the whole day.
Then there are “incomplete” proteins. As the name suggests they contain protein. However, the difference is you don’t get a full amount of 9 EAAs. You can still make some combos like beans/rice, whole wheat pita/hummus, and bean soup/crackers. This provides the same protein value as meat, eggs, or soybeans.
It’s recommended that you distribute your protein intake throughout the day for the best results. For example, you could have eggs and a glass of milk in the morning, grilled chicken for lunch, and broiled fish at night. Health experts recommend that people build every meal around protein.
You can also boost your amino acid intake with amino acid supplements. Options include forms like tablets, powders, and liquids. These protein sources should only add to real food instead of replacing them. Options include ones like a pre-workout protein shake or Bragg Liquid Aminos.
What Are Conditionally Essential Amino Acids?
The main classes of amino acids include essential (EAAs) and non-essential (NEAAs). For your body/brain to function properly, it’s critical to get enough of each of the 9 EAAs and 11 NEAAs.
The EAAs are easier to track because these are from foods/supplements that we consume daily. For example, you might have a breakfast of bacon & eggs for breakfast, 3-bean salad for lunch, and tuna casserole for dinner. During the day you could also take a supplement like branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) tablet.
However, NEAAs is a little more complex. In most cases, our bodies produce enough of them. This is especially true if you’re taking steps like eating healthy, exercising regularly, and sleeping well. If your overall health is good there will be few problems cranking out enough NEAAs.
However, certain NEAAs might need outside sources like food/supplements to get enough of them sometimes. These are called “conditionally essential” amino acids. About half the NEAAS (six) are in this category. Here’s the list:
There are times when our bodies don’t produce enough of these CEAAs. That’s due to different factors like stress and illness. Let’s say you’re having a stressful time at work/school/home. If your body’s glutamine levels are low you could take a supplement or consume more foods like chicken, eggs, beetroot, beans, or dairy. Your problem is solved.
There’s a caveat. It can be tough to track your CEAA levels let alone all 11 NEAAs. It’s more practical to know the signs of protein/amino deficiency. That way you can boost your protein levels from different sources.
You should also get tested to find out if you have any health conditions/diseases that might trigger a lack of certain NEAAs. Your doctor can help. Then you’ll know the likely cause of symptoms when your body needs certain CEAAs.
Top Amino Acid Supplements
If you supplement your NEAAs here are some of the options you have:
Last year the protein supplement market was worth $14 billion worldwide. Protein powders are easily one of the most popular products. You can find lots of options including whey/casein (milk), beef, egg, soybean, and others. You can use these supplements for breakfast, pre/post-workout shakes, and so on.
Besides protein powders, you can also find amino acid powders. The most common one is BCAA powders since it’s the most popular amino acid blend on the market. Others include amino powders that include all 9 EAAs.
This is a quick and easy way to boost your daily intake of amino acids. It’s as easy as mixing the powder with water or making a morning smoothie/shake.
Liquid aminos from makers like Bragg have been around for several decades. These are liquid seasonings with a small amount of several aminos. They contain several amino acids and are sometimes used as a soy sauce substitute.
Another option today is “coconut aminos.” These are made from the fermented sap of coconut tree blossoms. They contain no wheat/soy unlike soy sauce and have a milder flavor.
Tablets and Pills
It is a classic, yet effective way to boost your NEAAs. You can find single/blend amino acids on the market. If you’re boosting a particular amino due to stress, illness, etc. then you should probably go with single aminos. This is a convenient way to quickly get more aminos.
If you want the fastest results then go with gel capsules. Since they’re softer the body absorbs/digests them faster. This is quite helpful if your illness is causing unwanted symptoms and you want to quickly boost your aminos.
Tablets are another practical option. They’ll take longer to digest but produce a similar result as capsules. Make sure to track how much of the amino is contained in the tablet with conditionally essential amino acids.