Amino acids are the building blocks that form Protein, one of the most important macronutrients required for the proper functioning of the body. It is an essential requisite for every major function in the body, be it enzyme synthesis, muscle repair or regrowth. There are a total of 20 amino acids that link together to form various types of proteins in the body like structural proteins, storage proteins amongst others.
Although all 20 amino acids have crucial roles to play, our body is not capable of producing all types of amino acids. Certain types of amino acids have to be obtained from our diets. Let us deep dive into the types of amino acids and its importance in our daily lives. This article will break down the amino acids as per their unique characteristics and talk about what makes one part different from the other.
Understanding Amino Acids:
Amino acids can be used to produce energy when needed, however their most fundamental role is to build proteins. All the 20 amino acids have different chemical structures that define how each one acts. Each protein molecule contains anywhere from 50 to 2000 amino acids which are linked to each other in a unique chain form, depending on the gene commands and accordingly utilized for specific functions.
Amino acids are classified into three types namely Essential, Non- Essential and Conditionally Essential.
Amino acids are classified as Essential, Non- Essential and Conditional
Essential Amino acids:
The essential amino acids, also known as indispensable amino acids, cannot be produced by the body. This means that essential amino acids have to be derived from the diet. Out of the 20 amino acids, 9 amino acids are considered to be essential amino acids.
The main function of essential amino acids is supporting muscle health (growth and repair). Since the body does not store amino acids, you need to take them in on a regular basis. Consuming clean and right nutrition is imperative for getting adequate amounts of essential amino acids daily.
Note: Histidine is an essential amino acid only in infants and those suffering from certain kidney ailments. Hence it is also referred to as a non essential amino acid for adults.
Non-essential and Conditional Amino acids:
11 amino acids are produced by the body and are called non-essential amino acids. These amino acids support healthy immune function along with energy production in the body.
Out of these, 8 amino acids are known as conditionally essential. Their functionality and requirements vary depending on various physical factors like pregnancy, illness or major stress (physical or mental). Such conditions affect the natural production in the body to such an extent that they may not meet the body’s demands.
For example, a person suffering from serious wounds or burns might require additional supplementation of Arginine for the healing process.
The remaining three amino acids, Asparagine, Alanine and Aspartate are known as non-essential amino acids. The main functions of non essential amino acids include protein synthesis, supporting the nervous system and energy synthesis.
All amino acids, essential, non-essential and conditionally essential amino acids play important roles in maintaining optimum health and wellness.
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Amino Acids & Protein
You need all the essential amino acids in precise amounts and if you meet your recommended daily amounts of protein and ensure that you follow a clean and nutritious diet, you would be able to meet your daily amino acid requirements.
However if you are on a vegan or plant-based diet, this might be difficult as vegan sources don’t offer all the essential amino acids. Consider adding a variety of plant sources like Quinoa, Brown Rice, Lentils and Seeds to your daily diet. You can also opt for a plant-based protein supplement that has all the essential amino acids.
Plant based protein supplements combine essential amino acids from different sources like green peas, mung beans, quinoa, brown rice amongst others to provide the complete amino acid profile required for your body.
It is extremely important to consume all essential amino acids as your body cannot produce them naturally. They are required for the proper functioning of the body. Ensure that you follow a clean and plant based diet filled with nutrient rich foods to avoid protein or amino acids deficiency.
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Last modified: June 23, 2017