Amino Acids

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What are amino acids, what do they do, why are they important and should you care at all? Amino acids are one of the most misunderstood topics when it comes to health and fitness; on one hand the importance of supplementation is exaggerated and overthought; on the other hand it is often not given a proper place on the list of important things. In short, it depends on who you talk to. So let's break down amino acids, let's explain what an amino acid is, what an amino acid does and give an explanation that you can easily understand

Basic Amino Acid Understanding

Amino acids are essential to life and serve a great many purpose in the manner in-which they function. One of the most important aspects of the amino acid is it functions as a building block for protein(s). In short, proteins are made up of amino acids; each amino acid represents a piece of the protein. Try looking at amino acids as a supply of lumber; each amino acid represents one piece of wood; put the pieces of wood together and you have a product, in this case you have formed a protein.

Discovery of the First Amino Acid

Amino acids are primarily made of three elements; oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen and were first identified in the early 1800's specifically 1806, by French chemists Louis-Nicolas Vauquelin and Pierre Jean Robiquet. The two chemists identified the very first amino acid aptly named "asparagine" due to the isolation of this amino acid from asparagus. Several other amino acids would be discovered over the next one-hundred years including cysteine and glycine along with many others

Amino Acid Principles and Functions as it Pertains to You

Within the proteins flowing through your body there are a total of twenty amino acids needed. Each amino acid carries with it a particular content and is sequenced in a particular order necessary for the protein in-which it is responsible for. If you are someone who truly desires to understand how protein works, how it functions in the body you must first understand how amino acids structure themselves and the first step is to recognize each amino acid is quite complex even when making up a simple protein.

Of the twenty amino acids needed, the human body can produce ten. An important note, there are far more than twenty total amino acids that exist but it is those essential to us in-which we are concerned with. The remaining ten amino acids essential to human health the body does not produce, each amino acid in this category must be obtained through ones diet.

Muscle or no Muscle

The ten amino acids that must be gained from the food we eat are very important. If you fail to acquire even one of the ten amino acids you need from food your body will take what it needs from existing muscle tissue; one way or the other for every amino acid needed the body will get what it wants

There is no Amino Acid Bank

You cannot store your amino acids; taking in a large quantity one day does not hold you over the next day. The most obvious question is which amino acid am I missing, which amino acids are essential for me to take in for optimal health? The list includes

  • Arginine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Valine

Where to get an Essential Amino Acid

There are many foods available that carry the essential amino acids you need. Meat provides an abundant amount of the essential amino acids needed and so do many vegetables and grains; however, many of the non-meat sources are often missing at least one essential amino acid. If one chooses not to eat a lot of meat or none at all, it is very important to combine proper foods to ensure you're getting every amino acid needed. Another common source is supplemental protein powder; many of today's protein powders carry at least one amino acid otherwise not found unless added; most carry far more than one. Another common source and perhaps the most obvious of all is an amino acid supplement. There are many supplements available that carry every last essential amino acid one would need. To make certain you're getting every amino acid you need you cannot go wrong by supplementing with something that primarily serves that purpose