The 411 on Amino Acids
Amino acids are organic compounds made up of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen…plus a side chain that is specific to each amino acid.
But…unless you’re a biochemist, this probably doesn’t mean much to you.
For most of us, it’s enough to know what amino acids do, and why are they’re important.
Simply stated, your body needs amino acids to build proteins, and to synthesize hormones and neurotransmitters. Without them, your body can’t perform a number of essential processes, such as:
- Building new muscle
- Healing and repairing damaged tissue
- Digesting food
- Producing energy
- Creating neurotransmitters
- Synthesizing hormones
- Maintaining healthy skin, hair, nails, and connective tissue
- And many more
Without amino acids, nearly every major system in your body wouldn’t function properly.
To be precise, your body requires 21 different amino acids, with each of these being classified into one of three categories: essential, nonessential, and conditional.
- Essential Amino Acids
- Nonessential Amino Acids
- Conditional Amino Acids
There are nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
These nine amino acids are required to support a wide variety of bodily functions, from building and repairing muscle to generating neurotransmitters. But your body can’t produce them by itself. These amino acids have to be extracted from protein-rich foods, or taken as supplements.
Don’t be misled by the name. Nonessential amino acids are actually just as important as their essential cousins.
The difference? Your body can produce nonessential amino acids, rather than having to derive them from protein.
Nonessential amino acids include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. They support important processes like tissue repair, immune system function, blood cell formation, and hormone synthesis.
This group includes eight amino acids: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
Conditional amino acids are naturally produced by your body just like nonessential amino acids. However, when your system is stressed (like when you’re sick, injured, stressed, or working out hard) you may not be able to produce enough of these amino acids to meet the increased need.
Under these circumstances, this group of amino acids is considered “conditionally essential”…which means your body has to get them from dietary sources or from supplements.
Keys to Amino Acid Health
Since amino acids are vital to good health, it’s important to make sure you maintain them at optimal levels.
In general, nonessential amino acids aren’t a concern. Eat a balanced diet and your body will likely synthesize enough nonessential amino acids for you to stay healthy.
Whether or not you have an adequate supply of essential and conditional amino acids will depend on a number of factors, particularly diet and lifestyle. In general, if you aren’t getting enough to satisfy your body’s demands from food alone, consider amino acid supplements.
At Renew Youth, we know that optimization applies to more than just hormones.
If you’d like to learn more, call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to set up your free 30-minute consultation.