What Are Essential And Non-Essential Amino Acids?

There are essential and nonessential amino acids, all of which perform several bodily functions. Amino acids are popularly known as protein’s building blocks. Read on to find out what are the differences between the essential and nonessential and how they benefit you.

muscled man sitting inside the gym drinking protein shake

For the human body to survive, it needs several macro-nutrients, one of which are the amino acids. These amino acids play vital roles in the body. There are 20 amino acids and are divided into two- essential and nonessential amino acids. 

Essential Amino Acids And Their Functions

Essential Amino Acids is a group of amino acids that can only be acquired through diet. The best sources of these macronutrients are animal-based foods like poultry, eggs, and meat. 

When protein is digested, its metabolic products are amino acids. Your body utilizes this amino acid for various processes like immune function regulation and muscle building.  


Phenylalanine is the precursor for neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, tyrosine, epinephrine, and dopamine. They play a vital role in maintaining the function and structure of enzymes and proteins and also the production of the remaining nineteen amino acids.


The molecular structure of this essential amino acid has a branched-chain which distinguishes it from others. Valine assists in stimulating muscle regeneration and growth and also takes part in the production of energy.


This amino acid is an integral part of proteins like elastin and collagen, which are part of connective tissue and skin;’s composition. Threonine has a part to play in immune function and fat metabolism.


This amino acid is usually associated with drowsiness. There are several other functions of tryptophan, for instance, it is needed for nitrogen balance maintenance. It also acts as a serotonin precursor, this is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating appetite, mood, and sleep.


Methionine has an important part to play in detoxification and metabolism. It is also needed for selenium and zinc and tissue growth.


Just like valine, leucine also has a branched-chain structure. It is an important amino acid for muscle repair and protein synthesis. Leucine regulates the level of blood sugar, synthesizes growth hormones, and stimulates the healing of wounds.


This amino acid is largely concentrated in the muscle tissue and contributes to muscle metabolism. This amino acid is needed for hemoglobin production, energy regulation, and immune function.


They are involved in the amino acid synthesis, enzyme and protein production as well as calcium production. Lysine is also needed for immune function, elastin, and collagen production and immune function.


This amino acid produces histamine. Histamine is needed for indigestion, wake-sleep cycle, immune response, and sexual function. This amino acid is necessary for myelin sheath maintenance.

Nonessential Amino Acids

These are the amino acids synthesized in the body. There are nine of them, namely, alanine, serine, proline, arginine, glutamine, tyrosine, cysteine, glutamic acid, asparagine, glycine, and aspartic acid.

Let’s have a look at what each of these amino acids represents and the role they play in maintaining optimal health.

  1. Alanine: This amino acid participates in acid and sugar metabolism. Alanine also provides energy for the nervous system, muscle, and brain and increases immunity.
  2. Serine: This amino acid carries out a fundamental role in plant development, cell signaling, and plant metabolism. They also participate in the synthesis of sphingolipids, phospholipids, and nucleotides.
  3. Proline: Proline is important for tendons and joint function. It also strengthens and maintains heart muscle.
  4. Arginine: This macronutrient is needed for wound healing, hormone release, and immune function. It is also utilized as a precursor for nitric oxide synthesis. Arginine is vital for blood pressure regulation.
  5. Glutamine: Glutamine performs several bodily functions and is a vital part of your immune system.
  6. Tyrosine: This amino acid is suggested to increase neurotransmitters levels like the norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine.
  7. Cysteine: Only a few amino acids contain sulfur and cysteine is one of them. The presence of sulfur allows cysteine to bound especially maintaining protein structure.
  8. Glutamic acid: This nonessential amino acid not only partake in protein synthesis but also acts as a neurotransmitter. It is also vital for healthy brain function and development.
  9. Asparagine: Asparagine is popular for its core role in glycoprotein biosynthesis. It also helps in synthesizing other proteins. Your nervous system needs this particular amino acid to help maintain its equilibrium.
  10. Glycine: Glycine appears to be an important macronutrient as it helps in protein building. Glycine also enables collagen production. Your tendon, skin, bone, and muscles need collagen to function properly.
  11. Aspartic acid: Your urea cycle needs aspartic acid to go on. This nonessential amino acid also helps in protein biosynthesis.


Essential and nonessential amino acids are vital keys to many vital processes in your body. Though the most recognized function of amino acids in muscle development and repair, they do more than that. Deficiencies of these amino acid results in some health issues that will impact your body negatively, including your digestive, immune, nervous, and reproductive system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *