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?
Brant, who became a successful althlete in high
school, has studied health and nutritional issues for over 15 years and
personally uses many fitness ideas and supplements that he writes
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
the synthesis of blood sugar in the liver to help healing. We get
leucine from chicken, cottage cheese, dry lentils, fish, peanuts, and
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
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!"