You must have heard many things about amino acids. But we hear a lot of things daily. We don’t know what things are true and what things are not. So what are amino acids exactly? What are the nine essential amino acids? Why do we call them essential? What do they do? Where can we get them? Well, to put it in simple terms, amino acids represent the foundational blocks for building protein. Proteins are a combination of various amino acids. They constitute a major portion of your cells and tissue. They are organic compounds that constitute about 20% of your body. You need amino acids for your body to carry out all the biological processes occurring within it.
Examples of such processes include giving structure to cells, forming your organs, arteries, muscles, and glands, as well as facilitating the transportation and storage of nutrients. Aminos are also very essential for repairing tissues and healing wounds, especially in your muscles, bones, skin, and hair. Certain nutrients are very crucial in our daily diet, and protei46n (made of amino acids) is one of them. When you consume adequate amounts of aminos in your diet, it improves your health and all its different aspects. It gives strength to your body, as well as keeps your hair, nails, and skin healthy. It also facilitates the proper functioning of your body and mind in every regard.
What Are The Nine Essential Amino Acids?
There are many amino acids (more than 100), but not all of them are proteinogenic. Proteinogenic aminos are the ones that your body uses for protein building. This type constitutes about 23 aminos. 3 of these 23 are not present in humans.
So then, you have 20 proteinogenic aminos in your body. Nine of them are essential, while the remaining eleven are nonessential. Essential aminos are the ones that your body will not produce naturally. As such, you must obtain them from your food.
Each essential amino has unique properties. They all and play vital roles in how your body functions. Non-essential aminos are also very vital, but your body naturally produces them. They are, therefore, not dietary essential.
You may also have heard about BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids). These are 3 aminos; leucine, valine, and isoleucine. These aminos have aliphatic side-chains (or branched-chains) in their chemical structure. About 35 percent of all the aminos in your muscles are BCAAs.
So how can we get all the aminos we need? We will take a quick look at each of them.
A Brief Overview of Each Essential Amino and Where to Get Them
This amino gives support to your brain health. It also functions as a precursor to certain neurotransmitters, especially histamine. Histidine is involved in the production of blood cells that help detoxify your body.
More so, Histidine also helps prevent tissue damage as a result of heavy metals or radiation. You need them for your overall immunity and health.
You can get histidine from cheese, red meat, poultry, and white meat. Other great sources include seafood, beans, soybeans, legumes, buckwheat, chia seeds, and potatoes.
This amino is vital for angiogenesis (Blood vessel growth). It is also vital for muscle growth. Methionine also contains sulfur, a vital element for muscle and tissue health. When you don’t have enough sulfur in your body, you become more prone to arthritis and tissue damage. Healing from injuries (both internal and external) would also take more time.
That’s not all. Methionine enhances creatine formation. Your body needs creatine for energy production. Methionine also reduces the deposition of fats in your liver.
You can get methionine from meat, dairy, cheese, fish, beans, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, oats, whole-grain rice, and figs. You can also get methionine from wheat, legumes, cacao, and onions.
This is another essential amino that helps in blood cell production. The part of RBC that you need isoleucine for is hemoglobin. This compound transports iron in your blood. It also regulates blood glucose.
Isoleucine also aids nitrogen growth in your muscle cells. This is a very vital part of your DNA and structural makeup. Whey protein has an abundance of isoleucine. You can also get isoleucine from soy, fish, meat eggs, dairy, cashews, oats, almonds, beans, lentils, legumes, brown rice, and chia seeds.
When your body absorbs tryptophan, it is converted into serotonin. Serotonin is responsible for a happy feeling. It is one of the neurotransmitters in your brain. It also helps to reduce stress levels, as well as prevent depression.
Tryptophan also induces relaxing effects on your body. It promotes a healthy sleep pattern. Tryptophan also supports your nervous system and brain function.
You can get tryptophan from milk, chocolate, turkey, cheese, and red meat. Other great sources include yogurt, fish, eggs, poultry, sunflower seed, almonds, chickpeas, peanuts, bananas, and spirulina.
Leucine regulates blood glucose levels by modulating insulin in your body, especially during your exercise and post-workout. It also positively impacts your brain function and mental health. You can get leucine from cheese, pork, beef, soybeans, chicken, seeds, pumpkin, and nuts. Other great sources include peas, beans, seafood, tuna, plant proteins, and whey protein, among many others.
You can get valine from cheese, pork, chicken, red meat, nuts, beans, broccoli, legumes, spinach, chia seeds, avocado, figs, whole grains, cranberries, and blueberries. Other good sources include apples, apricots, and oranges.
You can get lysine from eggs, poultry, meat, cheese, peas, beans, chia seeds, and spirulina. Other good sources include parsley, cashews, almonds, whey protein, and avocados.
You can get threonine from cheese, lean meat, lentils, raisins, spirulina, quinoa, and nuts. Other good sources include seeds, watercress, leafy greens, pumpkin, chia seeds, soybeans, hemp seeds, and almonds.
You can get phenylalanine from milk, meat, dairy, chicken, fish, eggs, and seaweed. Other good sources include seaweed, beans, spirulina, pumpkin, almonds, avocado, and rice. You can also consider getting them from peanuts, figs, quinoa, leafy greens, most berries, seeds, and olive.
If you have been wondering, what are the nine essential acids? We have listed them out for you. We have also told you where to get them. So make sure you get adequate amounts in your daily diet.