Essential Amino Acids (Everything You Need to Know)

Everything You Need to Know About Essential Amino Acids

What are amino acids?

  • Amino acids are the primary building blocks of proteins. 
  • Proteins are macromolecules due to their very high molecular weights that are made up of small units of amino acids.
  • Amino acids are not only responsible for building up proteins, but they are also responsible for the synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
  • There are 20 important amino acids, but only nine amino acids are considered essential.

Since our body cannot synthesize essential amino acids, and they are taken through foods and supplements. 

This article uncovers all the most valuable information about essential amino acids.

The nine essential amino acids

Here are the types of essential amino acids with their benefits function in our body:

 1. Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an essential Amino acid that is required for the formation of proteins and other amino acids. For example, it is the precursor of tyrosine, an amino acid that is essential in making neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. 

There are two forms of phenylalanine: L- phenylalanine, and D – phenylalanine. The L – phenylalanine is the form used to produce proteins in the body. It is gotten through foods.

2. Tryptophan

Tryptophan is a powerful essential amino acid that is needed for the production of niacin and serotonin.

  • Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that partakes in wakefulness, stable mood, and regulation of appetite. The levels of serotonin are boosted by sunlight and light environment. Serotonin is the precursor for melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle).
  • Niacin converts carbohydrates to glucose, metabolizes fats and proteins, keeps the nervous system working, and helps the body produce sex and stress hormones.

3. Valine

Valine is part of the three branched-chain amino acids. It is responsible for: 

  • Everyday body functions (promote normal growth, provide energy to cells, and regulate blood sugar levels).
  • Regulation of immune system (repair damaged tissues)
  • Muscle maintenance
  • It has pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and nutritional values.

4. Lysine

Lysine is a powerful essential amino acid that is widely used:

  • In preventing and treating a cold sore
  • It helps the body absorb calcium while decreasing the excretion of calcium in the urine
  • Promotion of weight loss and muscle turnover
  • Boost immunity

5. Threonine

Threonine is a potent essential amino acid that is important in the production of collagen and elastin. Threonine is known for also been used for the treatment of certain nervous system disorders such as:

6. Histidine

Histidine is an essential amino acid responsible for making histamine, a neurotransmitter that is very important for the better functioning of the digestive system, immune response, nerve cells, and sexual function. Histidine is also responsible for maintaining a normal balance pH of 7.

7. Methionine

Methionine is a vital amino acid that is responsible for:

  • Detoxification and metabolism
  • Liver support
  • Connective tissue strength formation
  • Support intense, short exercises with a good supply of energy to muscles.

8. Leucine

Leucine is a vital essential amino acid responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, increase growth hormone production, bone strength, and recovery of muscles.

9. Isoleucine

Isoleucine is a powerful essential amino acid that is usually recommended to professional athletes and bodybuilders for boosting energy levels and assisting in recovery from strenuous physical activities. It also helps in wound healing and immune-boosting.

Foods High in Essential Amino Acids

Foods High in Essential Amino Acids

Here are food sources of essential amino acids:

  • Apples
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Quinoa
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Peanuts
  • Seaweed
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Wheat germ
  • Sprouted grains
  • Whole grain rice
  • Mushrooms
  • Lentils
  • Yogurt
  • Turkey
  • Lamb
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Chia seed
  • Mustard seeds
  • Tofu
  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Cranberries
  • Apricots
  • Apples
  • Figs
  • Walnuts

Final word

Essential amino acids play a remarkably important role in our body from protein synthesis, regulation of the CNS (central nervous system), repair of tissues and organs after injuries, regulating the hormones, energy production, nutrient absorption to immune function. 

In other words, amino acids are involved in absolutely all the processes that take place in our bodies. Therefore to promotes better muscle, improved digestive system, mood, sleep, increase energy, weight loss, and protection of your body from the effect of free radicals. You need to eat a healthy balanced diet that contains essential amino acids. 

You should talk to a doctor before using essential amino acid supplements.