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Meet the Amino’s: Amino Acids and Their Roles in Health

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,Supplements at 5:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
AminosAmino acids play a really important role in health but many people don’t really know what they are and what they do. The human body uses amino acids to produce proteins, perform critical metabolic functions as well as to produce energy. Food sources of amino acids are protein-rich foods. When you consume protein, your body receives a source of amino acids using combinations of 20 distinct amino acids to make up the protein in your cells. Sources of protein that contain every essential amino acid are called complete proteins, while sources of protein deficient in one or more essential amino acids are incomplete proteins. Failure to eat enough of any essential amino acid prevents your body from making the protein it needs to function.

Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the organism, and therefore must be supplied by diet. A total of nine amino acids cannot be made by the human body and are considered essential: phenylalanine, threonine, valine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, lysine, isoleucine, and histidine. Nutritionally essential, these amino acids are not optional as a lack of sufficient bioavailability has adverse health effects.

Additionally, six amino acids are considered conditionally essential in the human diet as their synthesis can be limited under special pathophysiological conditions, such as prematurity in the infant or individuals in severe catabolic distress. These six are arginine, cysteine, glycine, proline, glutamine, and tyrosine.

Lastly, five amino acids are dispensable in humans as they can be synthesized in the body. Nutritionally nonessential, these aminos can be made by the human body through various pathways of biosynthesis. These aminos are alanine, asparti acid, asparagine, glutamic acid and serine.

Amino acid deficiency may lead to a number of health issues such as developing frequent colds, slow recovery from physical exercise, constantly feeling fatigued, and slow healing from minor cuts or injuries.

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