The Amino Acid Basics You Should Know
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. They build the cells, repair tissues, are responsible for the production of enzymes, and play a key role in mental health.
The breakdown of proteins into amino acid is the first amino acid function. From here the amino acids combine with nitrogen where they can then be transformed into thousands of different protein forms that the body can use.
There are 20 amino acids that the body uses to construct proteins. These are broken down into essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids.
What is an essential amino acid?
There are 8 amino acids that the body cannot manufacture and these are called essential amino acids. These amino acids must be supplied in our food. However, the term non-essential should not mislead you. All amino acids are essential for proper protein synthesis.
What you need for proper protein synthesize
In order to achieve proper protein synthesis all of the required amino acids must be present in the body at the same time and in the right quantity. If there is one essential amino acid in very short supply it is known as the limiting amino acid and this will restrict the quantity of protein that can be synthesized regardless of how much of the other amino acids are available.
We see that a shortage of even one amino acid can cause protein synthesis to be greatly reduced and it can stop altogether if left untreated.
What Is Complete Protein and Incomplete Protein?
Protein can be classified as complete and incomplete. Complete protein comes from animal sources such as meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
Complete protein contains all the essential amino acids the body needs. These animal proteins are also the only reliable source of vitamin B12 but they do lack in fiber and often contain large amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol.
Incomplete protein comes from fruits and vegetables. These foods are low in one or more of the essential amino acids. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains all vary in their protein content and vegetarians will needs to combine these foods in the right way to get complete protein. Vitamin B12 however, will still need to be supplemented.
Vegetarians should note however, that soybeans are one of the few vegetable sources that will supply complete protein which will give a little more flexibility when combining foods.
Other Amino Acid Information:
- Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C are the vitamins needed for amino acid metabolism and to help with the absorption of amino acids. Include these vitamins with your amino acid supplements
- If you are taking amino acid supplements, L-Forms are recommended as they are more acceptable to the body.
- Check that your amino acid supplement contains all the essential amino acids in the right proportions.
- If you are taking a single amino acid as a supplement, taking it with empty stomach may help its absorption.
- Keep in mind, amino acids work best when all of essential and non-essential ones are provided to the body.
Therefore, it is good idea to add a complete amino acid supplement to your individual amino acid supplementation.
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