Amino Acids: Their Role in Our Daily Lives

Amino acids are one of the significant organic compounds that are required by our body. Their role in body functions ranges from synthesizing hormones and neurotransmitters to building protein, which is inevitable. 

Although the number of amino acids required by our body is huge, not all of them are equally essential for our body’s overall growth and functioning. Therefore they are thoughtfully divided into two major groups, namely essential and nonessential amino acids, after evaluating different factors.  

What makes these compounds imperative is the fact that our body doesn’t produce these compounds. Considering the inevitable needs, it is essential to consume the required quantity to make up for the need through diet and amino acid supplements to erase the remaining need gap. 

To understand the necessity to fill in the daily requirements of amino acids, one needs to understand their role in our body. Take a look. 

Role of Amino Acids in Our Body

Out of 20, the 9 are marked as essential amino acids, and they perform a variety of roles in our body. Take a look:  

  • Tryptophan

Apart from being associated with the cause of drowsiness, there are several essential functions of tryptophan. From precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter regulating appetite, sleep and mood, it is also required to maintain balance in nitrogen levels. 

  • Histidine

Apart from taking part in histamine production, an essential neurotransmitter required for the sleep-wake cycle, digestion, sexual function, and more, this essential amino acid is acknowledged for preserving the myelin sheath that acts as a guarding barrier enclosing the nerve cells. 

  • Lysine

Lysine is required for calcium absorption, protein synthesis, and the production of hormones and other enzymes. It even plays a crucial role in immune function, structural proteins, collagen, elastin, and energy production. 

  • Threonine

Threonine is the key component of collagen and elastin, the structural proteins, an essential component of connective tissue and skin. It even assists in other roles like immune function and fat metabolism. 

  • Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine plays an elemental part in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes. It is a precursor for other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and more. And assists in producing other amino acids. 

  • Valine

Valine is a type of branched-chain amino acid, i.e., its molecular formation is a chain branching off to one side. It plays a crucial role in inciting growth and regeneration of muscle and is also required in energy production. 

  • Leucine

Just like valine, leucine is also one of the three branched-chain amino acids. It plays a vital role is the processes like muscle repair and protein synthesis. What separates it from valine is its participation in vital functions like producing growth hormone, monitoring blood sugar levels and stimulating wound healing. 

  • Methionine

Methionine is necessary for the growth of tissue. It plays a significant function in absorbing zinc and selenium, important for the body, metabolism, and detoxification.

  • Isoleucine

Isoleucine is also a branched-chain amino acid. It plays a crucial role in muscle energy regulations, metabolism, immune function, and haemoglobin production.

Since essential amino acids’ primary function or requirement is the growth and repair of muscle, their insufficiency can significantly impact our body, including hindering the nervous system. 

Sources And Recommended Intake

Since the body cannot produce amino acids, it is necessary to maintain the required level with a proper and healthy diet. 

The US recommended intake  of the nine essential amino acids per kg (2.2 pounds) of body weight are:

  • 19 mg of Methionine, along with cysteine, a nonessential amino acid. 
  •  38 mg of Lysine
  • 14 mg of Histidine
  • 42 mg of Leucine
  • 19 mg of Isoleucine
  • 5 mg of Tryptophan
  • 20 mg of Threonine
  • 24 mg of Valine
  • 33 mg of Phenylalanine, including tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid. 

Complete proteins are one of the best sources to make up for the daily requirement of amino acids. That is because they contain all the nine essential amino acids. Familiar sources of complete protein are:

  • Dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Soy
  • Meat
  • Beans
  • Eggs; and
  • Seafood

Although there is enormous essential amino acid-rich food, meeting the recommended dosage by consuming them can be difficult. Thus consumption of amino acid supplements is recommended to fill in the gap of inadequacy. 

Benefits Of Supplementing Essential Amino Acids

Studies have asserted that consumption of concentrated doses of amino acid supplements leads to multiple health benefits, including;

  • Supports sleep and boosts mood

Group play of multiple essential amino acids helps boost mood and support sleep. Tryptophan is one of these essential amino acids.

Consumption of tryptophan leads to the production of serotonin, a regulator of behaviour, mood and sleep. A decrease in serotonin levels results in depressed mood and sleep disturbance. 

A study conducted on older womens affirmed that consuming supplements containing tryptophan showed a positive impact o their mood and improved their sleep cycle. 

  • Limits muscle loss

Lengthen illness or bed rest often leads to loss of muscle loss which is ordinarily observed in adults. 

Adequate consumption of amino acids preserves lean body mass by limiting muscle loss. 

  • Limits muscle loss

Lengthen illness or bed rest often leads to loss of muscle loss which is ordinarily observed in adults. 

Adequate consumption of amino acids preserves lean body mass by limiting muscle loss. 

A study on older adults set on bed rest showed that consumption of 15 grams of mixed amino acid supplements helped them maintain their muscle protein synthesis even after a 10-day rest. In contrast, the placebo group observed a 30% decrease in the process. 

  • Promotes weight loss

Studies conducted on mammals, including humans, have shown adequate supply of branched-chain amino acids stimulates fat loss. 

While some researchers have asserted that the connection between the consumption of amino acid supplements and weight loss has been inconsistent. Therefore affirming that amino acids lead to weight loss is inconsiderate. 

Bottom Line

Our discussion boils down to the fact that our body necessitates adequate consumption of amino acids.

Despite the abundance of natural sources to procure these acids, ensuring the daily requirement is met isn’t easy. Hence the inclusion of amino acid supplements in the diet is mandated. 

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