Amino Acids

Amino Acids An amino acid, what is an amino acid exactly? You may hear the term amino acid come up anytime nutrition is discussed by those concerned with not only their overall health but increasingly their performance; be it in the gym or on the field, more and more amino acids have become a hot topic of discussion. Countless supplement companies now tout their product(s) as superior based many times on the high content of amino acids found in each one. So what makes an amino acid special or is it just another confusing topic in the world of health and nutrition that youll probably never fully understand?

Amino acids, as youve heard many times are the building blocks of protein; in short thats all an amino acid is but to say that carelessly would be a disservice when in-fact the service each amino acid provides is essential to life itself. The human body has twenty amino acids it requires in order for proteins to be built; without them there is no protein structure and without structure there is no muscle. Eat all the protein rich food you like, without an ample supply of each needed amino acid and your maximal results will not be found.

Two Types of Amino Acids

The human body requires two types of amino acids; essential and non-essential. A common question, why are non-essential amino acids required? They are as important as the essential amino acid however the body supplies each non-essential amino acid, each one on its own. Essential amino acids are only gained from the intake of food or supplements that can provide them. Of the twenty required amino acids ten are essential (some argue nine) but they are a must and the body will acquire them one way or another. Diets lacking in essential amino acids require the body to take what it needs from existing muscle tissue in the body and if youre someone who is concerned even in the slightest with muscle tissue youll want to make sure your body receives every last amino acid it needs.

List of Amino Acids

Non-Essential Amino Acids Essential Amino Acids
Alanine Arginine
Arginine Histidine
Asparagine Isoleucine
Aspartic acid Leucine
Cysteine Lysine
Glutamic acid Methionine
Glutamine Phenylalanine
Glycine Threonine
Proline Tryptophan
Serine Valine

Note on the amino acid Arginine

Arginine: you will notice it is in both columns for essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. Arginine is an amino acid that is very essential to an infant but there has been much debate as to if it should aptly fall into the essential category when speaking of adults. One thing that is agreed upon, arginine is an important amino acid quite simply because all amino acids are important; remember, they are the building blocks of protein which in-turn is the building block of all muscle tissue.

Where to Find each Amino Acid?

When you understand how important each amino acid is it only goes without saying youll want to make sure every essential amino acid is in your diet. Dont fret, theres good news; getting every essential amino acid your body needs is not difficult at all; in-fact, if you eat a regular diet, meaning you eat several meals per day from quality sources of food you will get every last essential amino acid your body needs. Meats are rich in amino acids, as well as dairy products and eggs. Many grains and beans contain essential amino acids, as do nuts and rice. If you are one who follows a vegetarian style diet in many cases you may find it difficult to acquire your daily fill. Yes, daily because ingesting a large quantity of amino acids one day does not carry over to the next. Your amino acid bank must be refilled every single day. For those following a vegetarian diet you would be wise to add as much protein rich food as you can along with the rest of your fruits and vegetables.

As we discussed early on many supplements carry loads of amino acids in them and for good reason. There are supplements available that are nothing more than pure amino acids and supplements such as supplemental protein powder that has amino acids added to it. Sometimes these protein supplements will have added amino acid benefit, sometimes not, it simply depends on the brand you choose and it will tell you right on the bottle.