Essential Amino Acids - What Difference Do They Make?

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A little knowledge can make a big difference.
A little knowledge can make a big difference. | Source

Why should a person care about amino acids?

In 2003 an otherwise good booklet entitled 20 Essential Supplements for Super Health failed to list amino acids and proteins in its index, while at the same time the head of Cell Tech was asked what he considered the most important element in any diet. He replied: "Protein."

The reason amino acids are important in any diet has a lot to do with protein. Amino acids are organic acids and green plants can make what they need to produce the proteins we get from them. The "catch" is that some amino acids are so essential to our health that without them we humans can't make the various proteins we need to live!

Adults have to have at least eight of them. Children need nine. There is some disagreement as to whether there are 20 or 21 amino acids, but there is consistent agreement as to which ones are essential. The Essential amino acids are all derived in our bodies from proteins we consume, then the amino acids are used to make the wide variety of proteins in our bodies. Sometimes it does so by the body using them in a particular order, and a given protein may have as many as several hundred amino acid elements.

Let's look at the essential amino acids and what they do.

L-Isoleucine

This one is essential because it has a critical role in forming hemoglobin which has a function in our body's needs for oxygen. It needs some help from L-Leucine and L-Valine, both of which are also essential amino acids.

L-Leucine

This one is a key in skin repair and repairing broken bones, as well as influencing blood sugar levels. It works in combination with L-Isoleucine and L-Valine.

L-Lysine

If our body is to have strong bones and cartilage, as well as cope with viruses (including cold sores), and have energy to cope with stress and metabolize fats, we won't do those things, if we ignore the body's need for this essential amino acid.

L-Methionine

If you are concerned with keeping your head of hair, having a healthy liver, dealing with some of the toxins the body takes in and is exposed to, and maintaining your maximum energy, you won't skip this one.

L-Phenylalanine

Help for controlling appetite, and for healthy brain function in terms of learning, depression, memory, awareness, and drive, brain impulses, and dopamine transmission rely on the body's sufficiency of this essential amino acid.

L-Threonine

Certainly the popular sports drink named Gatorade(R) has to be aware that storing energy in the muscles and liver has the body drawing on this essential amino acid which is also essential for growth and happens to tend to be deficient in persons relying heavily on a vegetarian diet. If you think immunoglobulins and antibodies could be of some importance, too, (and they are) then don't skip this one.

L-Tryptophan

If you like to be happy and calm, not bothered by insomnia, stress, migraine headaches, and anxiety, as well as get some help with weight control and producing growth hormones, you will find this essential amino acid a real necessity.

L-Valine

This essential acid I first mentioned in balance with L-Isoleucine and L-Leucine is important for all the things those two contribute to our health, as well as for regulating nitrogen balance in the body, muscle metabolism, and repair of body tissues. It is also critically needed in cases of drug addictions.

What are good natural sources for maintaining these amino acid levels?


L-Isoleucine/L-Leucine/L-Valine:

Dairy, mushroom, soy, peantus, grains, brown rice, beans, cashews, almonds, meats, and eggs.

L-Lysine:

Dairy, milk, fish, red meats, potatoes, eggs, and soy proteins.

L-Methionine:

Most seeds, meat, onions, garlic, yogurt, eggs, fish, and beans,.

L-Phenylalanine:

Eggs (whites and whole), soy, parmesan cheese, seeds, smelts, white fish, and tofu.

L-Threonine:

Eggs, soy protein isolate, seeds, cheeses, cod, clams and oysters.

L-Tryptophan:

Dairy products, soy, chicken, eggs, fruit, seafood, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.


Cautions

L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, and L-Valine are best used in proportionate amounts equal to one part of L-Isoleucine for every two parts of L-Leucine and L-Valine.

Some amino acids can be toxic in large doses, and using supplements as a source for essential amino acids has the added value that their recommended usage is included in their bottled directions. No amino acid should be taken individually for an extended period of time.

Some supplemental amino acids are contraindicated in cases of pregnancy, breast feeding, high blood pressure, and other health conditions, so advice from qualified health professionals is recommended before taking any amino acid supplements. If you suspect that you could be deficient in one or more of these essential amino acids, be sure to get such professional advice.

Supplemental amino acids should never be given to a child and should be kept in a safe place not accessible to children.

This article has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


© 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.

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Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond Author

There is a reason why these are called "essential". Knowing why and insuring that you get the minimum your body and lifestyle require is one more guarantor of optimum health.

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