A lot of individuals are yearning for enhanced health and improved quality of life despite their busy schedules and loaded workload. As such people are turning to different methods to achieve such goals with some observing strict diet routines while others focus on long hours in the gym. There are some individuals though, that recognize the benefits of taking health supplements. One type of potent health supplement is amino acids. But what can amino acids really for our health? Read on and find out!
Essential Amino Acids: A Brief Introduction
Amino acids are commonly viewed as protein’s building blocks and they are compounds that the body needs in order to accomplish different bodily functions. These functions include protein building and neurotransmitter and hormones synthesis. These amino acids can also be taken as a form of health supplement to elevate an individual’s mood or to boost the performance of athletes. Amino acids can be classified as either nonessential or essential based on different variables. But what really are amino acids?
Strictly speaking, amino acids are organic compounds that are made up of oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen together with a variable side chain. The body requires all twenty (20) amino acids to be able to function properly. However, out of these 20, only nine (9) are considered essential. These include Valine, tryptophan, threonine, phenylalanine, methionine, lysine, leucine, isoleucine, and histidine and unlike nonessential amino acids, these nine (9) essential amino acids cannot be produced naturally by the body and need to be acquired through the food items we consume. The best food items to consider as sources of essential amino acids include poultry, eggs, and meat.
Once a protein is consumed, it is processed into amino acids which the body then utilizes in the accomplishment of several biological functions such as immune function regulation and muscle building. Some non-conditional amino acids are also considered conditionally essential. These conditionally essential amino acids become essential during certain periods or instances such as high levels of stress and illnesses. One example would be arginine which is required as a supplement for those with cancer as the body cannot produce enough of this nonessential amino acid if one is afflicted with the abovementioned health condition.
The Roles of Essential Amino Acids for Health
Listed below are the functions and the roles of the nine (9) EAA’s:
- Phenylalanine- this essential amino acid is a crucial essential amino acid as it serves as an important base or foundation for norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and tyrosine. Phenylalanine is also critical in terms of ensuring the function and structure of enzymes and proteins and in the development of other amino acids.
- Valine- Valine is an amino acid that is three (3) branched which means it has a branching chain to the side of its molecule. This essential amino acid can aid in the stimulation of muscle development and recuperation and is also a key amino acid in terms of the production of energy.
- Threonine- is an amino acid that plays an important role in the elastin and collagen protein structures which are all crucial in terms of connective tissue and skin. It can also aid the body in ensuring efficient immune function and the metabolism of fat.
- Tryptophan- is usually linked with drowsiness, it also has other important functions such as ensuring the balance of nitrogen and is also an important base for the hormone serotonin which helps manage the individual’s mood, sleep, and appetite.
- Methionine- This amino acid also plays a critical role in detoxifying the body and in metabolism. This amino acid is also important in terms of selenium and zinc absorption along with the growth and development of tissues.
- Leucine- Just like valine, leucine is an amino acid that is classified as three branched-chain and is important for the repair of muscles and the synthesis of proteins. It also aids in the regulation of the levels of blood sugar, jump-starts the process of wound healing, and can help in the production of hormones for growth.
- Isoleucine- The third and last of the amino acids that are three branched-chain, this amino acid is critical in the metabolism of the muscles and is usually found in the tissues of the muscles. It can also provide important support for the functions of the immune system, the production of hemoglobin, and the regulation of energy.
- Lysine- For protein synthesis, lysine is extremely important as well as in the production of enzymes, and calcium absorption. It also needed by the body for the production of energy, enhancing the immune response, and elastin and collagen production.
- Histidine- This amino acid is critical for histamine production, an important type of neurotransmitter that supports the immune system of the body, certain digestive functions, functions about sex, and the cycles for sleep-wake. It is also an important amino acid to help in the maintenance of the myelin sheath, a sort of barrier that surrounds and protects the cells of the nerves.
Some Health Benefits of Amino Acid Supplementation
These essential amino acids can be found in most food items but to get the specific and desired amount, it may be ideal to take a supplement and obtain the concentrated form of the said compound. With this, the following health benefits may be achieved:
- Helps improve sleep and mood- Tryptophan and serotonin are both important for the improvement of both sleep, behaviors, and mood.
- May aid in boosting exercise- Amino acids that are three-branched are commonly used to address fatigue and boost the performance of individuals in terms of athletic activities and as such, may help in boosting the exercise performance of individuals.
- It can help prevent the loss of muscle mass– Muscles can be retained and kept healthy with proteins and amino acids and as such, taking amino acid supplements may help people in the prevention of muscle loss and deterioration.