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Amino Acids


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Amino Acids what are they?


Amino acids information page

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and unlike the two other basic nutrients sugar and fatty acids, amino acids contain nitrogen about 16%.  Because of the vital functions of these nutrients, great care should be taken by any person concerned about their health, to ensure that sufficient amounts are supplied by the body in either dietary form, or if needed by supplementation.

Amino acids - general information

Protein is needed by every living organism, and next to water, makes up the largest portion of our body weight since it is contained in muscles, organs, hair, etc. The protein used in making up the body is not directly derived from diet, but the dietary protein is broken down into amino acids, and the body then re-constitute these amino acids into the specific proteins needed.

Enzymes and hormones regulating body functions are also proteins. And amino acids are used in most body processes from regulating the way the body works to how the brain functions - They activate and utilize vitamins and other nutrients.

Proteins are chains of amino acids linked together, bound together with peptide bonds and there are about 28 amino acids commonly referred to in human health.

The liver manufactures about 80% of these amino acids, but the remaining 20% of such amino acids must be supplied directly by diet, and these amino acids are referred to as the essential amino acids.

These essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

The 80% or so others that are manufactured by the liver includes: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, citrulline, cysteine, cystine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine, taurine and tyrosine.

The functioning of amino acids are interrelated, and a balanced and steady supply of these nutrients are needed to maintain proper body functioning. A dietary shortage of amino acids can impact negatively on your health - just as other stressors, such as trauma, drug use, age, infections etc.

When the body synthesizes protein, ammonia is formed in the liver as a waste product, and too large amounts of protein into the diet can result in too much ammonia being formed, and in so doing placing extra stress on the liver and kidneys to flush it out the body.

Amino acid supplements come in various forms but can essentially be divided in three types of products either derived from animal protein, yeast or vegetable protein. Most amino acids can be produced in two forms, except for glycine, that is either a D or L form.

These letters stands for the way in which the amino acid spiral is wound up - D is for the right wound type and L for the mirror left winding amino acid. 

Human amino acid is the L type and for this reason many people prefer to use supplements containing the L type amino acid.

Amino acid supplementation information

Free form amino acids are the ones immediately absorbed into the body and need no digestion at all.

When taking an amino acid supplement it is best to have vitamin c (ascorbic acid) as well as vitamin B6 present at the same time for best absorption.

But like all things, use it as prescribed, and with common sense, as very high doses of aspartic acid, glutamic acid, homocysteine, serine and tryptophan could form toxic levels in the body, and in so doing cause damage.

This information is not intended to replace "traditional" mental health therapy. If you have questions or concerns about your physical and/or mental health ... contact your family physician and/or mental health professional in your area.