Amino Acids – What they do and why they are important?

Amino Acids - What they do and why they are important?

Amino acids are crucial for your overall health. Unfortunately, too many Americans fail to get their recommended dosage of all the essential amino acids! Fortunately, there are things you can do to boost the number of essential amino acids your body gets. 

What Are Amino Acids?

If you keep up with dietary trends, you have probably heard about amino acids. These are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In order for your body to properly grow and function, you need 20 different amino acids. While all 20 are important, only nine are considered essential. 

The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Since your body cannot make these essential acids, you have to get them from your diet. Animal proteins such as meat, eggs, and poultry are considered the best way to get these acids. 

Understanding the Essential Acids

Understanding the nine essential amino acids and what they do for the body can help you better understand why they’re so important. Here are the essential amino acids and their function:

  • Histidine:  critical for maintaining the myelin sheath, a barrier that surrounds your nerve cells
  • Isoleucine:  helps with immune function, hemoglobin production, and energy regulation
  • Leucine:  helps regulate blood sugar levels, stimulate wound healing, and produces growth hormones
  • Lysine:  important for energy production, immune function, and the production of collagen and elastin
  • Methionine:  necessary for tissue growth and the absorption of zinc and selenium
  • Phenylalanine:  plays a big role in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes
  • Threonine:  plays a role in fat metabolism and immune function
  • Tryptophan:  helps regulate your appetite, sleep, and mood
  • Valine:  helps stimulate muscle growth and regeneration

As you can see, these nine amino acids play a key role in several of the body’s natural processes. 

What are the Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements?

Unfortunately, too many Americans fail to get the amino acids they need in their diets. That’s where amino acid supplements come into play. Here are some of the benefits of amino acid supplements:

  • Improve your mood:  Tryptophan helps produce serotonin, which acts as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Serotonin is an essential regulator of mood, sleep, and behaviors. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression and sleep disturbances.
  • Improved exercise performance and recovery:  Amino acid supplements can alleviate fatigue, improve athletic performance, and stimulate muscle recovery. Research also shows they can reduce the rate of perceived exertion in people performing high-intensity exercises.
  • Improved wound healing:  Amino acid supplements can help those who are healing after surgery. Research shows it may help reduce loss of muscle volume in adults recovering from knee replacement surgery.

Amino acid supplements can improve your overall well-being if you pair supplements with a healthy lifestyle.

Food Sources

While supplements can help, getting amino acids through your diet is the best way to do so. Foods that contain all nine essential amino acids are referred to as complete proteins. Here are some of the foods that contain all nine essential amino acids:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products

Other plant-based sources of protein such as beans, nuts, and grains are considered incomplete proteins because they lack at least one essential amino acid. 

We’re Ready to Help With Your Health

Here at Today’s Integrative Health, we help our patients take control of their health. One of the ways we accomplish this is through nutritional plans. Our nutritional plans can help direct you to get the amino acids your body desperately needs! We are located at 6321 Executive Blvd, Rockville, MD 20852, in the Executive.  Contact Today’s Integrative Health today!

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Picture of Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. Leo began his education at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he earned his doctorate in osteopathy. He completed his internal medicine residency through the U.S. Army and had the honor of serving multiple overseas tours before retirement.

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