Are You Amino Acid Deficient?
Amino acids are essential building blocks for important compounds like proteins, neurotransmitters, and hormones.
Your body uses amino acids to:
- Heal and repair damaged tissue
- Create muscle
- Digest food for energy
- Maintain healthy connective tissue
- And much more
In other words, amino acids are vital for your health. But where does your body get the amino acids it needs to stay healthy?
How Your Body Obtains Amino Acids
Your body gets the amino acids it needs in one of two ways:
- By synthesizing them. These are called non-essential amino acids.
- From the foods you eat. These are called essential amino acids.
Non-essential amino acids get their name because they are synthesized by your body, usually from glucose. They include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Some of the above are considered “conditionally” essential. Conditionally essential amino acids can be synthesized by your body, but they may have to come from food during times of illness or stress. Amino acids that fall into this subcategory include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, and tyrosine.
Essential amino acids, on the other hand, cannot be synthesized by the body at all. They must come from the food you eat. Essential amino acids include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Unlike many other compounds, amino acids cannot be stored by your body. This means that amino acids must be synthesized or eaten on a regular basis to maintain good health.
How Much Do You Need?
Your body will typically synthesize satisfactory amounts of non-essential and conditionally essential amino acids without any additional supplementation. As a result, these amino acids don’t typically have established dietary requirements. However, if you’re sick, under stress, or training hard, your body may need more of these amino acids than it can make on its own.
As discussed above, essential amino acids come entirely from the foods you eat, so it’s important to get enough either from your diet or from supplements.
Consider some of the important work amino acids do within your body:
- Histidine is essential for the creation of histamine, an essential compound that affects immune system function, digestion, and sleep. It also helps to synthesize red and white blood cells.
- Isoleucine affects your body’s ability to build muscle. It also affects immune system function, hemoglobin production, and energy regulation.
- Leucine is used for growth hormone production, muscle repair, healing, and modulating blood sugar levels.
- Lysine is important for energy production, hormone production, and immune system function. It also helps your bones to absorb calcium.
- Methionine contributes to detoxification, tissue growth, and metabolism. It also helps to control invading pathogens.
- Phenylalanine is used to produce important brain chemicals like dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. It is also important for nervous system health.
- Threonine is important for collagen and elastin production, as well as immune system function and fat metabolism.
- Tryptophan helps to maintain nitrogen balance within the body and is also used for serotonin production.
- Valine supports muscle growth and tissue regeneration.
- Cysteine is an important antioxidant. It also helps the body to make collagen.
- Glutamine promotes brain health, as well as the synthesis of DNA and RNA.
- Glycine acts as a neurotransmitter and is also involved in the healing process.
- Arginine promotes the synthesis of proteins and hormones.
- Tyrosine is involved in the production of thyroid hormones.
Sources of Essential Amino Acids
Food sources for essential amino acids are described as either complete or incomplete.
Complete amino acid sources contain each of the essential amino acids. These include beef, poultry, fish, eggs, buckwheat, quinoa, and soy.
Incomplete sources contain some of the essential amino acids, but not all of them. These include seeds, nuts, beans, and some whole grains.
If complete sources of essential amino acids aren’t part of your diet, you can still get enough essential amino acids from your diet to stay healthy. The key is to eat a variety of incomplete amino acid sources over the course of each day.
If you think you may be falling short on some amino acids, particularly if you’re training hard, it’s easy to get the ones you’re missing from supplements.
Want to learn more about how amino acids can contribute to your long-term health? Renew Youth has the answers to your questions. Call us today at 800-859-7511 or use our convenient contact form to sign up for your free 30-minute consultation.