What Are Amino Acids?


You have probably heard a lot of talk about amino acids, especially if you are involved in athletics. But what are amino acids, and why are they so important?


According to the Science of Everyday Things, the answer to the question "what are amino acids?" is: "organic compounds made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and [in certain times] sulfur bonded in characteristic formations. Strings of amino acids make up proteins, of which there are countless varieties. Of the 22 amino acids required for manufacturing the proteins the human body needs, the body itself produces only 14, meaning that we have to meet our requirements for those other eight through nutrition."

... the body uses 22 amino acids to make 50,000 different proteins ...

To elaborate a little more, the human body uses 22 amino acids to make the 50,000 different proteins that people must have in sufficient abundance for optimal health. The eight amino acids that we have to consume through food products are the "essential amino acids", and these are the basis for the amino acid supplements that so many of us have heard about.



So, when many people ask "what are amino acids" they are actually asking about the eight essential amino acids.

The Eight Essential Amino Acids


  • Isoleucine: This amino acid is very important for the regulation of blood sugar, muscle repair and development, haemoglobin development, and the regulation of energy  Isoleucine is ingested by eating almonds, beef, dairy foods, eggs, fish, lentils, poultry, seeds, soy, and wheat.


  • Leucine: This one stimulates muscle protein synthesis and is thought by many scientists to be the main fuel involved in tissue building; also, during times of very high physical or emotional stress, the body draws upon leucine as a primary source for the synthesis of blood sugar in the liver to help healing. We get leucine from chicken, cottage cheese, dry lentils, fish, peanuts, and sesame seeds.


  • Lysine: deficiency  in this amino acid can cause a niacin (Vitamin B) deficiency, leading to the disease pellagra. Herpes can also be prevented or treated with lysine. We consume it when we eat amaranth, green beans, lentils, soy products, and spinach.


  • Methionine: this one supplies sulphur and additional compounds that normalize metabolism and growth, and is part of a group of compounds called lipotropics which aid in the liver's processing of fats. You eat this when you eat dairy products, fish, and whole grains.


  • Phenylalanine: this is a precursor to adrenaline and noradrenaline, substances of activation in the central and peripheral nervous systems.  To ingest this amino acid, eat almonds, avocados, dairy products, lima beans, peanuts, and seeds.


  • Threonine: needed for antibody production. You get his one from eating beans, beef, dairy products, eggs, nuts, poultry, and seeds.


  • Tryptophan: this precursor to serotonin and melatonin is ingested from eating bananas, chocolate, cottage cheese, dried dates, fish, red meat, oats, peanuts, and turkey.


  • Valine: required for sufficient muscle metabolism, tissue repair, and keeping the right balance of nitrogen in the body, all of which have important health benefits that they contribute to your life. To get it in your diet eat dairy products, grains, red meat, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, peanuts, and soy products.


So, what are amino acids? They are simply biochemicals that your body cannot do without. Remember -- your body creates the 14 unlisted amino acids from the listed essential amino acids. When someone asks you "what are amino acids?", tell them "more than you probably think!"

And if you're looking for  a balanced supplement that's right for you, consider Total Balance, available in children's, men's, unisex and  women's varieties.

What you see on Nutritional Supplements Information is just a sample of what's available for you in our Secrets of Natural Healthy Living. Check it out now!


Much more than What are amino acids discussed back on the home page