Amino acids


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%.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 29 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.
healing_with_amino_acids_bodybuildingThese essential amino acids are:
Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is used by the body to build protein and was first isolated in 1879. The alpha-carbon in alanine is substituted with a levorotatory (l)-methyl group, making it one of the simplest amino acids with respect to molecular structure and is one of the most widely used in protein construction.It is required for the metabolism of glucose and tryptophan and beta-alanine is a constituent of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) as well as coenzyme A. It has also demonstrated a cholesterol-reducing effect in rats.
Food sources of alanine
As with the other amino acids, excellent sources of alanine include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Some protein-rich plant foods like avocado also supply alanine.

Arginine is a non-essential amino acid and is abundant in protamines and histones – both proteins associated with nucleic acids and was first isolated in 1895 from animal horn. Newborns may produce this amino acid too slowly and for them arginine should be seen as an essential amino acid.It is extremely useful in enhancing the immune system, and it increases the size and activity of the thymus gland, which is responsible for manufacturing T lymphocytes – the much talked about T-cells, which assist the immune system.
Food sources of arginine
Whole-wheat, nuts, seeds, peanuts, brown rice, popcorn, soy, raisins, chocolate.
Asparagine is a non-essential amino acid and is closely related to aspartic acid, and can be manufactured from this nutrient and was first isolated in 1932 from asparagus and is also widely available in plant protein.It is required by the nervous system to maintain equilibrium and is also required for amino acid transformation from one form to the other which is achieved in the liver.
Food sources of asparagine
It is found in dairy, beef, poultry and eggs.

Aspartic acid is a non-essential amino acid and is found in abundance in plant proteins, especially in sprouting seeds but can be manufactured in the body from oxaloacetic acid and was first isolated in 1868 from legumin in plant seed.It is needed for stamina, brain and neural health and assists the liver by removing excess ammonia and other toxins from the bloodstream. It is also very important in the functioning of RNA, DNA, as well as the production of immunoglobulin and antibody synthesis.
Food sources of aspartic acid
It is found in dairy, beef, sprouting seeds.

Carnitine is really not an amino acid, but because of the close structural sameness, it is normally classed with amino acids, and is also known as vitamin BT.Unlike a true amino acid, it is not used in protein synthesis nor as neurotransmitter, but is used for long-chain fatty acid transport and is required for entry of these long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria of the cell, as well as for the removal of short-chain organic acids from the mitochondria, which frees the intra-mitochondrial coenzyme.It is therefore important for the energy supply within the cell, as well as muscles, assists in preventing fatty build-up in areas such as the heart, liver, and skeletal muscles.
Food sources
Carnitine is found in good amounts in red meat, while fish, chicken and milk are also high in carnitine, vegetables and grains contain very little of this nutrient.

Citrulline is found in high concentration in the liver. Citrulline is not a component of any major proteins or enzymes.The amino acid citrulline is required to detoxify the liver from ammonia, which is a waste product of the body from oxidation.Citrulline promotes energy and assists with the immune system. This unusual amino acid is formed in the urea cycle by the addition of carbon dioxide and ammonia to ornithine.

Cysteine is a sulfur containing non-essential amino acid and is closely related to cystine, as cystine consists of two cysteine molecules joined together. It is an unstable nutrient and easily converts to cystine, but this does not cause a problem, since both can convert into the other – as required by the body.Your skin, as well as detoxification of your body, requires cysteine. It is found in beta-keratin, the main protein in nails, skin as well as hair. It not only is important in collagen production but also assists in skin elasticity and texture.
Food sources of cysteine
The body can synthesize cysteine from the amino acid methionine but is also found in high protein foods such as poultry, wheat, broccoli, eggs as well as garlic, onions and red peppers.

Cystine is a crystalline, sulfur-containing amino acid, formed from two molecules of the amino acid cysteine. It is particularly abundant in skeletal and connective tissues, hair and digestive enzymes.It`s required for proper vitamin B6 utilization and is also helpful in the healing of burns and wounds, breaking down mucus deposits in illnesses such as bronchitis as well as cystic fibrosis.Cysteine also assists in the supply of insulin to the pancreas, which is needed for the assimilation of sugars and starches.

GABA stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, is the product of a biochemical decarboxylation reaction of glutamic acid by the vitamin pyridoxal.GABA is required as an inhibitory neurotransmitter to block the transmission of an impulse from one cell to another in the central nervous system, which prevents over-firing of the nerve cells.It is also used for brain metabolism and to treat both epilepsy and hypertension where it is thought to induce tranquility in individuals who have a high activity of manic behavior and acute agitation.

healthy_body_vegetables_amino10.Glutamic acid
Glutamic acid, a non-essential amino acid and is synthesized from a number of amino acids including ornithine and arginine.It is an important excitatory neurotransmitter, and glutamic acid is also important in the metabolism of sugars and fats.It helps with the transportation of potassium across the blood-brain barrier, although itself does not pass this barrier that easily.
Food sources of glutamic acid
Excellent sources of glutamic acid include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, as well as some protein-rich plant foods.

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid and is found in large amounts in the muscles of the body, and since it easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, it is also known as a superb brain fuel, and some people refer to it as a “smart-vitamin” – although it is in actual fact no vitamin at all.It is converted to glutamic acid in the brain, which is essential for cerebral functions, and increases the amount of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is required for brain functioning and mental activity.It is used in the muscles for the synthesis of muscle proteins, and is of use for the treatment of wasting muscles after illness or post-operative care.
Food sources for Glutamine
Glutamine is found in many high protein foods, such as fish, meat, beans, and dairy as well as in vegetables such as raw parsley and spinach.

Glutathione is actually a tri-peptide made up the amino acids gamma-glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine and is also known as gamma-glutamylcysteinylglycine or GSH.It is a powerful antioxidant and detoxifies the harmful compounds in the liver, where it is then excreted through the bile.The liver also excretes glutathione directly into the bloodstream where it is used to help maintain the integrity of red blood cells, as well as protecting white blood cells.Glutathione is also found in the lungs and intestinal tract where it assists in carbohydrate metabolism as well as breaking down oxidized fats.
Food sources of glutathione

Foods rich in cysteine, glutamic acid and glycine should be selected when wishing to increase your dietary intake of this nutrient.

Glycine is a sweet tasting, non-essential amino acid that was first isolated in 1820 from gelatin and is also found in good quantity in silk fibroin.It is required to build protein in the body and synthesis of nucleic acids, the construction of RNA as well as DNA, bile acids and other amino acids in the body.It helps in retarding degeneration of muscles since it helps to supply extra creatine in the body.
Food sources of glycine
High protein food contains good amounts of glycine and is present in fish, meat, beans, and dairy products.

Histidine is an essential amino acid, manufactured in sufficient quantities in adults, but children may at some time have a shortage of this important vitamin.Histidine is also a precursor of histamine, a compound released by immune system cells during an allergic reaction.It is needed for growth and for the repair of tissue, as well as the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that act as protector for nerve cells.
Food sources of histidine
Dairy, meat, poultry and fish are good sources of histidine as well as rice, wheat and rye.

Hydroxyproline can be synthesized in the body, making it a non-essential amino acid and is used nearly exclusively in structural proteins including collagen and connective tissue.It was first isolated in 1902 from gelatin. Excretion of abnormal quantities of hydroxyproline is a symptom of the connective-tissue disease called Marfan’s syndrome.

Isoleucine is an essential amino acid and is part of the three “branched chain amino acids” (BCAA) – the other two being leucine and valine. This amino acid cannot be manufactured in the body, and needs to be supplied in the diet and was first isolated in 1904 from fibrin.Isoleucine, together with the other two branched-chain-amino-acids promote muscle recovery after physical exercise and on its own it is needed for the formation of hemoglobin as well as assisting with regulation of blood sugar levels as well as energy levels. It is also involved in blood-clot formation.
Food sources of isoleucine
It is present in almonds, cashews, chicken, eggs, fish, lentils, liver, meat.

Leucine is an essential amino acid, which cannot be manufactured in the body and is part of the three branched-chain-amino-acids. Supplements and protein powders that contain leucine are used extensively by bodybuilders and other athletes to promote muscle recovery, although it has not produced significant changes in body composition.Leucine helps with the regulation of blood-sugar levels, the growth and repair of muscle tissue (such as bones, skin and muscles), growth hormone production, wound healing as well as energy regulation. It can assist to prevent the breakdown of muscle proteins that sometimes occur after trauma or severe stress.
Food sources of leucine
It is found in protein foods, as well as brown rice, beans, nuts and whole wheat.

Lysine is an essential amino acid and is a basic building block of all protein. This nutrient was first isolated in 1889 from casein.It is required for growth and bone development in children, assists in calcium absorption and maintaining the correct nitrogen balance in the body and maintaining lean body mass. Furthermore it is needed to produce antibodies, hormones, enzymes, collagen formation as well as repair of tissue.
Food sources of lysine
Good sources of lysine are found in cheese, eggs, lima beans, potatoes, milk, meat and brewer’s yeast.

Methionine is a sulfur containing essential amino acid and was first isolated in 1922 from casein and belongs to a group of compounds called lipotropics – the others in this group include choline, inositol, and betaine.It assists in the breakdown of fats and thereby prevents the build-up of fat in the arteries, as well as assisting with the digestive system and removing heavy metals from the body since it can be converted to cysteine, which is a precursor to gluthione, which is of prime importance in detoxifying the liver.
Food sources of Methionine
Methionine is found in good quantities in meat, fish, beans, eggs, garlic, lentils, onions, yogurt and seeds.

20.NAC(n-acetyl cysteine)
NAC – N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an altered form of the amino acid cysteine, which is commonly found in food and synthesized by the body.NAC may assist to break down mucus and used in the treatment of bronchitis – for this reason it is used as an inhalant in hospitals.
Food sources of NAC
Cysteine, the amino acid from which NAC is derived, is found in most high-protein foods.

Ornithine is a non-essential amino acid and is manufactured by the body, the amino acid, arginine, is metabolized during urea production and is required by the body as it acts as a precursor of citrulline, proline and glutamic acid.Ornithine is important since it induce the release of growth hormone in the body, which in turn helps with fat metabolism. It is further required for a properly functioning immune system and liver and assists in ammonia detoxification and liver rejuvenation.
Food sources of ornithine
The body can manufacture ornithine but is abundant in protein foods such as meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that is also one of the aromatic amino acids that exhibit ultraviolet radiation absorption properties and is the most commonly found aromatic amino acid.It can be converted in the body to tyrosine, which in turn is used to synthesize two important neurotransmitters – dopamine and norepinephrine. It is available in three different forms – L-, D- and DL-. The L- form is the most common and the type in which it is incorporated into the body’s proteins. The D- form acts as a painkiller and the DL- a combination of the two.
Food sources of phenylalanine
It is contained in most protein rich foods but good sources are found in dairy products, almonds, avocados, lima beans, peanuts and seeds.

Proline was first isolated from casein in 1901, and unlike any of the other amino acids it is readily soluble in alcohol. It is a nonessential amino acid and can be synthesized from glutamic acid and does not require dietary sources.Proline improves skin texture and aids collagen formation and helps contain the loss of collagen during aging. Collagen in the skin contains hydroxyproline and hydroxylysine, which is formed from proline and lysine, in which ascorbic acid seems to be important in this conversion. Collagen contains about 15 % proline. It is also thought to be important in the maintenance of muscles, joints and tendons.
Food sources of Proline
Proline is mostly found in meat sources.

Serine was first isolated in 1865 from sericin, a silk protein, and is a nonessential amino acid and can be synthesized in the body from glycine.Serine is required for the metabolism of fat, tissue growth and the immune system as it assists in the production of immunoglobulins and antibodies.
Food sources of Serine
It is found in meats and dairy products, wheat gluten, peanuts as well as soy products.

Taurine is a non-essential amino acid and is found in high concentrations in the white blood cells, skeletal muscles, central nervous system as well as the heart muscles. In adults, but not children, this nutrient can be manufactured from methionine in the body and from cysteine in the liver, but vitamin B6 must be present.It is a key ingredient of bile, which in turn is needed for fat digestion, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as well as the control of cholesterol serum levels in the body.
Enemy of taurine
High intake of alcohol may cause the body not to be able to use it fully.
Food sources of Taurine
Taurine is mostly found in meat and fish, and the adult body can manufacture it.

Threonine is an essential amino acid, and cannot be manufactured by the body and is found in high concentrations in the heart, skeletal muscles and central nervous system.It is required to help maintain the proper protein balance in the body, as well as assist in the formation of collagen and elastin in the skin.
Food sources of Threonine
Good levels of threonine are found in most meats, dairy and eggs, as well as in lower quantities in wheat germ, nuts, beans and some vegetables.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and is needed to maintain optimum health.This amino acid is required for the production of niacin (vitamin B3). It is used by the human body to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is important for normal nerve and brain function. Serotonin is important in sleep, stabilizing emotional moods, pain control, inflammation, intestinal peristalsis, etc.
Food sources of tryptophan
Good dietary sources for this amino acid is cottage cheese, milk, meat, soy protein and peanuts.

Tyrosine was first isolated from casein in 1849 and is abundant in insulin as well as the enzyme papain and can be synthesized from the amino acid phenylalanine in the body.It is a precursor of the neurotransmitters epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine, all of them extremely important in the brain and transmits nerve impulses and prevents depression. Dopamine is also vital to mental function and seems to play a role in sex drive.
Food sources of tyrosine
Meat, dairy, eggs as well as almonds, avocados and bananas are good sources of this nutrient.

Valine is an amino acid obtained by hydrolysis of proteins and was first isolated by the German chemist Emil Fischer in 1901 from casein and is not only an essential amino acid but is also a branched-chain amino acid (the others are isoleucine and leucine) found in high concentration in the muscles.It has a stimulating effect and is needed for muscle metabolism, repair and growth of tissue and maintaining the nitrogen balance in the body.Since it is a branched-chain amino acid, it can be used as an energy source in the muscles, and in doing so preserves the use of glucose.
Food sources of Valine
Good sources for this nutrient include dairy, meat, grain, mushrooms, soy and peanuts.

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