What you need to know about amino acids
Amino acids are the building blocks from which proteins are made. Proteins are an essential part of our nutrition and make up about 20% of our body weight.
Twenty-two naturally found amino acids make up these proteins. Eight are considered to be essential because the body cannot make them. These are only obtained from our diet.
The others are called semi- or non-essential because the body can manufacture them.
How can amino acid supplements benefit you?
As principal components of proteins, they are needed for the growth, maintenance and repair of our internal organs (especially heart and brain), muscles, hair, skin, nails and eyes.
Proteins are also needed for creating antibiotics that help us to fight infection. Haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of our blood is made of protein, as are any hormones, such as insulin. Proteins are also important for growth and repair of body tissue.
To avoid imbalance it is recommended to take a basic mixture containing both essential and non-essential amino acids.
There are two forms of amino acids -
- L-form which are found naturally in protein
- D-form which can be synthesised, yet not part of body proteins.
It is preferable to take supplements containing the L -form.
Animal foods are a particularly rich source including milk, cheese and eggs. A wide variety of them are also found in plant foods. It was once thought that vegetarians needed all 8 essential ones in one balanced meal, to get enough protein but recent research has shown that they do not have to be all taken together.
When using amino acid supplements, you need to take them half an hour before eating, because they compete with the ones present in food, and they are then not so well absorbed.
Generally, meat-eaters consume too much protein, but deficiencies can still occur because if one is missing it can compromise the functioning of other amino acids. Deficiencies too, especially of the non-essential ones can occur in vegetarians, those on special diets or with poor digestion.
To avoid deficiencies and to maintain good health a balanced scientifically formulated supplement is necessary.
What to be aware of when choosing amino acid supplements
- It is important to choose supplements that have been scientifically formulated in order to increase bio-availability (meaning that the body can easily assimilate them effectively).
- Ensure that supplements are produced to pharmaceutical standards.
- Poorly formulated supplements pass through the digestion and are excreted with little benefit to the body.
- There needs to be enough of a particular vitamin, mineral, amino acid, antioxidant or herb to actually make a difference. Trace amounts of herbs are generally not going to be very effective.
- Be sure that the product does not contain any fillers, artificial colours, flavours or other additives.
- Many products contain ingredients that cancel each other out.
- Labels do not always exactly reflect the content of the bottle. There are wide variations in quality and pricing between synthetic and natural ingredients.
When buying amino acids or any other supplements it is advisable to only purchase from a reputable source.
These are the amino acids commonly used in clinical practice
L-tryptophan - for sleep and anxiety
L-lysine - Herpes simplex treatment and prevention
DL-phenylalanine - pain
L-carnitine - weight loss, cardiovascular disease
L-arginine - wound healing, body building
L-ornithine - bodybuilding
L-cysteine - antioxidant, detoxifier
L-taurine - alcohol and sugar cravings/addictions
L-tyrosine - depression
Originally posted 2016-12-11 11:31:10.