Amino Acids Function

natural livingA definition is in order before we can discuss amino acid function. An amino acid is the smallest unit of protein with a composition of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen molecules. This is the reason why amino acids are called the building blocks of life - because its atoms make up biological life as we know it.

Importance of Proteins

Since we are on the subject of proteins, we might as well discuss it. As you know, proteins are one of the three macronutrients with the other two being fats and carbohydrates. You will need large amounts of these nutrients, which is in contrast with the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Anyways, proteins are needed in large amounts because of their important functions in the body. To name just a few of these functions, which can also be attributed in general to amino acids since the latter are the building blocks of the former, proteins:

  • Act as hormones, antibodies and enzymes

  • Maintain the healthy balance of fluid, acids and base in the body

  • Transport the essential substances for life such as oxygen and nutrients via the bloodstream into the cells

  • Form the bones, teeth, skin and hair

  • Maintain structure of the tissues, muscles and blood vessels

  • Use and convert energy for mechanical work

Indeed, if you want to know about a certain amino acid function, just pick from one of the abovementioned functions of protein. You are more than likely to find one that fits.

Functions of Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are also divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Let's discuss first the essential amino acids, which the body cannot manufacture and, hence, must be acquired from a diet of nuts, meat and meat organs, among others. Each amino acid function is complementary to the purposes of the other amino acids.

  • Tryptophan - Synthesis of serotonin, a neurotransmitter
  • Tyrosine - Antioxidant and precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline
  • Valine - Muscle development.
  • Isoleucine - Synthesis of hemoglobin
  • Leucine - Skin, tissue and bone formation
  • Lysine - Synthesis of hormones and enzymes
  • Methionine - Breakdown of fats
  • Phenylalanine - Boosts cognitive function and memory

Of course, this is just a simplistic description of the amino acid function. Take note that each one will have multiple functions.

Functions of Non-Essential Amino Acids

On the other hand, non-essential amino acids are manufactured in sufficient quantities by the body. You need not supplement it with nutritional supplements although many still do for health purposes such as building more lean muscle and mass among bodybuilders. Look at the nutritional supplements information to determine if the desired amino acid is, indeed, included in the list of ingredients.

Just to name a few of the 12 non-essential amino acids and their basic functions:

  • Alanine - Produces energy and regulates metabolism of glucose

  • Asparagine - Helps in the metabolism of the nervous system

  • Cysteine - Stimulates hair growth and protects against damage brought by cigarette and alcohol consumption

In the end, nonetheless, it is your practical applications of the knowledge of amino acid function that matters the most. Your body will be healthier for it.

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