Amino Acid 101

Composition: are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Some of them may have sulfur as well.

There’s two types of amino acids, the essential amino acids which you must consume because your body cannot produce them, and the non-essential amino acids which can be made by your body and consumed as well.

There are nine amino acids that you must consume to stay healthy:

Histidine, lysine, valine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, & isoleucine.

These eleven you can consume & create yourself:

tyrosine, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, cysteine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, asparagine, arginine & alanine.

The acids you consume end up in the muscles to serve as your body’s protein reserve. The next biggest function of them is to make new enzymes and hormones for your body the rest of them usually go into your skin and hair. They provide support for protein without it protein would not be able to serve its purpose for us.

Digestion of protein begins in the mouth as it does for everything else. There are enzymes called protease in your mouth that begin the breakdown process. Then, the cellular lining of your intestines absorb the amino acids into your body, where it then goes throughout your body to serve its various functions.


Amino acid structure. Source.
Amino acid structure. Source.

A note about supplements, the way your body is designed, it is meant to get amino acids from food in a steady stream throughout the day. When you take them in supplemental form, it can overwhelm your body and interfere with how your body would normally process the amino acids. You want to be careful or even try to avoid amino acids and supplements as certain amino acids such is cysteine and histidine are toxic in high levels. (Think too much of a good, exhibit moderation).

Supplements. Source.
Supplements. Source.

Amino acids can be used for energy purposes the way your body uses sugars, but it’s really more of a last ditch effort and not very effective. In order for your body to use them, all of your reserves of glycogen & fat stores have to be used up as in the cases of fasting or starvation.

If food deprivation continues, your body will literally start to cannibalize itself and break down your muscle tissue to consume in order to provide energy to keep your body going. This leaves your body with little muscle tone and it will weaken your heart. On top of that, using amino acids puts an extra strain on your kidneys because of all the extra nitrogen that is being used up and released. Bad news!

I hope this post helps you understand amino acids a little better, let me know if it doesn’t and I will explain more for you. Have a great day!


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