Amino Acids

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Amino Acids – The Foundations Of Life

Amino acids – they’re the building blocks of proteins. Proteins in turn are the building blocks of just about everything else! Without these vitally important compounds, we wouldn’t exist. So what are amino acids? Let’s start right at the beginning. Before amino acids. Because even amino acids are ‘made’ from something else! Namely nucleotides.

Nucleotides – The Building Blocks Of Amino Acids

Everything boils down to just five base chemicals, or bases. The base chemicals used in DNA are adenine (A), cytosine (C), guanine (G) and thymine (T). The fifth one uracil (U) is only found in RNA where it replaces thymine. These base chemicals are used to build nucleotides.

A DNA nucleotide is made up of one of the 4 base chemicals (A / C / G / T) plus a molecule of phosphoric acid and a molecule of sugar. RNA nucleotides are identical except U replaces T. Nucleotides are in turn joined together in sequences of three to form codons. Each codon encodes specifically for one of the amino acids. So the amino acid Methionine for example is encoded as ATG, meaning it contains adenine, thymine and guanine nucleotides in that order.

Twenty Amino Acids Represented By Sixty-One Unique Codons

If you do the math, you’ll discover that these 4 nucleotides can be arranged into 64 unique codons. Even though there are only 20 amino acids! Therefore, some amino acids are represented by more than one codon. Isoleucine for instance can be coded as any one of the following – ATT, ATC or ATA. Each codon only encodes for one amino acid however so you won’t find any other amino acids encoded as ATT, ATC or ATA.

Sixty-one of these codons encode amino acids. The remaining 3 are used as stop codons. Stop codons are used to signal the end of a sequence of codons or protein. A protein is effectively just a long string of codons or amino acids. The body manufactures more than 50,000 different proteins.

Essential And Non-Essential Amino Acids

Amino acids are classified into two groups. Essential amino acids are those our bodies are not able to manufacture so it’s ‘essential’ we obtain them via our diet. The list of essential amino acids are:

  • Isoleucine (eggs, soy, spirulina, dairy)
  • Leucine (cheese, soy, beef, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, seafood, beans)
  • Lysine (lean beef, cheese, turkey, chicken, pork, soy, fish, shrimp, shellfish, nuts, seeds, eggs, beans, lentils)
  • Methionine (nuts, beef, lamb, cheese, turkey, pork,fish, shellfish, soy, eggs, dairy, beans)
  • Phenylalanine (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, milk)
  • Serine (beef, dairy products, almonds, asparagus, chickpea, cow pea, flax-seed, lentils, sesame seed, walnut, soy beans)
  • Threonine (lean beef, soy, pork, chicken, liver, cheese,shellfish, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils)
  • Tryptophan (turkey, milk, cheese, oats and oat bran, seaweed, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spinach, watercress, soybeans, pumpkin, sweet potatoes)
  • Valine (cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, chicken, pork, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, mushrooms, and whole grains)

Non-essential amino acids are still ‘essential’ in that we require them for the creation of functioning proteins. Our body however is able to manufacture them so long as the raw ingredients are supplied. The non-essential amino acids are:

  • Alanine (poultry, a variety of fishes, meat, seaweed, eggs, dairy products)
  • Arginine (turkey, pork loin, chicken, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, spirulina, dairy)
  • Asparagine (dairy, whey, beef, poultry, eggs, fish, lactalbumin, seafood, asparagus, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, whole grains)
  • Aspartic Acid (dairy, ggs, chicken, pork, beef, fish, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, chestnuts, oats, corn)
  • Cysteine (meat and poultry, eggs, dairy, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprout, oats, granola, wheat germ, sprouted lentils)
  • Glutamic Acid (matured cheeses, cured meats, fish sauce, soy sauce and soy protein, mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, broccoli, peas, walnuts)
  • Glutamine (beef, chicken, fish, dairy products, eggs, beans, beets, cabbage, spinach, carrots, parsley, vegetable juices, wheat, papaya, brussel sprouts, celery, kale)
  • Glycine (bone broth, meat, dairy products, poultry, eggs, fish, beans, spinach, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, pumpkin, banana, kiwi)
  • Histidine (Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.)
  • Proline (meat, nuts, seafood, dairy products, eggs, fish, asparagus, avocados, bamboo shoots, beans, brewer’s yeast, broccoli rabe, brown rice bran, cabbage, caseinate, chives, lactalbumin, legumes, seaweed, seeds, soy, spinach, watercress, whey, whole grains)
  • Tyrosine (cheese, soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, and whole grains)

Learn More About Amino Acids

Find your guide to amino acids – everything you want to know about these fascinating foundation blocks of life at Planet Supplements. Along with other unbiased health, fitness and nutrition information.



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