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Amino Acids - Uses, Benefits, Sources

Amino acids are compounds that combine to make proteins. When a person eats a food that contains protein, their digestive system breaks the protein down into amino acids. The body then combines the amino acids in various ways to carry out bodily functions.

There are 21 amino acids that your body uses to build and repair your body. 9 of these are essential amino acids, meaning your body can’t create them—they have to be consumed. In lab tests, scientists fed lab rats a diet consisting only of corn protein. The rats quickly got sick and would eventually die. However, if scientists then provided rats an amino acid-rich food, the rats quickly got better and survived.

Types Of Amino Acids

Amino acids can be placed in three different groups:

Essential amino acids:

These can't be produced by the body and must come from the food you eat. There are many types of essential amino acids, including:

  •  Lysine
  •  Histidine
  •  Isoleucine
  •  Threonine
  •  Methionine
  •  Leucine
  •  Phenylalanine
  •  Tryptophan
  •  Valine
Non Essential amino acids:

These are produced naturally by your body and have nothing to do with the food you eat.

The following are examples of nonessential amino acids:

  •  Alanine
  •  Asparagine
  •  Aspartic acid
  •  Glutamic acid

Benefits Of Amino Acids

  •  Decrease Muscle Soreness
  •  Increase Muscle Growth
  •  Reduce Exercise Fatigue
  •  Prevent Muscle Wasting
  •  Benefit People With Liver Disease

Food Sources Of Amino Acids

Although it is possible to be deficient in essential amino acids, most people can obtain enough of them by eating a diet that includes protein.

The foods in the following list are the most common sources of essential amino acids:

  •  Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and whole grains contain large amounts of histidine.
  •  Lysine is in meat, eggs, soy, black beans, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds.
  •  Methionine is in eggs, grains, nuts, and seeds.
  •  Cottage cheese and wheat germ contain high quantities of threonine.
  •  Isoleucine is plentiful in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
  •  Valine is in soy, cheese, peanuts, mushrooms, whole grains, and vegetables.
  •  Dairy, soy, beans, and legumes are sources of leucine.
  •  Phenylalanine is in dairy, meat, poultry, soy, fish, beans, and nuts.
  •  Tryptophan is in most high-protein foods, including wheat germ, cottage cheese, chicken, and turkey.

Side Effects Of High Intake Of Amino Acids

Excess intake of amino acids (both BCAAs and otherwise) can lead to certain side effects like:

  •  Liver Damage In Chronic Alcoholics
  •  Abdominal bloating
  •  Lung Failure
  •  Cough
  •  Stomach pain