We all know that proteins are the building blocks of the body, but what most people don’t realize is that different proteins contain different compounds called amino acids, which support different functions. Proteins are not a “one size fits all” type of molecule.
There are, in fact, over 500 different amino acids
that have been classified and identified, although many of these are not classified as essential in terms of health and wellbeing. An essential amino acid is one that is vital for supporting the body, and one that the body cannot produce on its own. Essential amino acids are, therefore, amino acids that you need to supply through your diet.
The amino acids that have been classified as essential in terms of biological function include:
Your body needs histidine to produce new healthy tissue. Your body is made up of approximately 37 trillion cells, and you are constantly producing new cells to replace old or injured cells and tissues. Histidine is particularly vital for producing the nerve cells needed for healthy mental and physical function.
Good dietary sources of histidine
include high protein meats like beef, poultry, fish, and dairy.
Known for its ability to support healing and repair, isoleucine is an amino acid that is vital for supporting tissue health in your body. Isoleucine also plays a role in the blood clotting process and is, therefore, needed for supporting wound healing.
Dietary sources of leucine include nuts, seeds, meat, fish, and certain types of vegetables like soy and lentils.
Isoleucine is particularly important to support the muscle repair process for those who partake in regular strenuous exercise.
Lysine is one of the all-rounders in terms of amino acids. Lysine is vital for building new muscles and tissues. It plays an important role in supporting your body’s ability to absorb and use calcium. Lysine is essential for healthy growth and development. This amino acid is crucial for supporting your ability to produce energy, and it is used to produce various hormones, enzymes, and other vital compounds.
A deficiency in lysine can result in fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, and dizziness. Red meat, poultry, pork, and cheese are particularly good sources of natural lysine.
Leucine functions in combination with valine and isoleucine to repair damaged and injured muscles. Leucine is also vital for allowing your body to regulate blood sugar levels, and your body uses Leucine to produce energy.
Natural dietary sources of leucine include whole wheat, brown rice, red meat, nuts, and beans.
The most important function of methionine is the processing of fats in the body. Methionine is also used to produce glutathione, the most important natural antioxidant in the body. Methionine is used to produce cysteine and taurine, the compounds that play a vital role in the elimination of toxins from the body. Methionine is used to make creatine, the compound that provides energy for muscle function. Collagen and connective tissue also relies on the availability of methionine.
Foods high in methionine include garlic, eggs, meat, fish, onions, seeds, and yogurt.
Phenylalanine supports the production of some of the important hormones and neurotransmitters that are needed for survival. From the hormones that are essential for thyroid function, to the hormones that regulate and support healthy mood regulation, ensuring your body has enough Phenylalanine is vital for overall physical and mental health.
Healthy dietary sources of this vital amino acid include beef, poultry, milk, eggs, yogurt, and fish.
Protein balance is essential for supporting the health of the entire body, and threonine is the amino acid responsible for regulating protein balance in the body. Threonine is vital for supporting the cardiovascular system, the immune system, the central nervous system, and for liver health.
Natural dietary sources of Threonine include mushrooms, leafy vegetables, dairy foods, meats, and grains.
Valine is essential for supporting growth and repair. It provides your body with the building blocks to form new tissue and repair damaged tissue, and the compounds that are needed to produce energy. Valine also supports healthy mental and cognitive function.
You can get an abundance of valine from dairy, meat, mushrooms, soy, and peanuts.
Your body needs tryptophan to produce niacin. Niacin is vital for supporting nerve function, for facilitating digestion, and for supporting nerve health and function. Your body needs an abundant source of tryptophan to produce serotonin, and it uses serotonin to produce melatonin.
Serotonin supports mood regulation, while melatonin supports healthy biological rhythms and sleep.
Foods that offer an abundance of tryptophan include poultry, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and fish.
Get the Essential Amino Acids You Need
You can see, from the array of functions mentioned above, that getting sufficient amino acids are vital for almost every function and system in the body. You could try to ensure your diet contains all of the amino acids essential for health, but a good amino acid supplement
, like Amino Acid Complete
, can help take the guesswork out of amino acids.