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What are Amino Acid Supplements and Why Do I Need Them?

If you built the foundation of your home on crumbling cinder blocks, it wouldn’t be very sturdy, would it? Likewise, your body needs solid building blocks for good health, stamina and vitality. That’s where amino acids come in.

What are Amino Acids?

 Amino acids form the building blocks of proteins needed for the growth, repair and maintenance of healthy muscles, tendons, organs, glands, nails and hair. Amino acids also play a role in hormones and metabolism making them vital for energy and weight management.

Some individuals take amino acid supplements to enhance their workout efforts and build lean muscle mass while reducing fatigue, soreness and mental fatigue. But amino acids aren’t just for athletes. Regular folks need them too.

Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids

 There are over 20 amino acids, nine of which are known to be essential, meaning it is essential that you obtain them from your diet since your body does not create them or store them. Failure to get enough of even one of them due to stress, age or certain medications can result in loss of protein and diminished health. The best sources for amino acids are chicken, meat, seafood, dairy products and eggs, so if you don’t eat these foods or limit your intake, an amino acid supplement may be worth considering.

9 Essential Amino Acids

Make sure you’re getting enough of these every day from your diet.

  1. Histidine: Important for immune function, digestion, sleep-wake cycles and maintaining the myelin sheath around nerves.  
  2. Isoleucine:  Plays a role in energy, muscle metabolism, and the production of hemoglobin.
  3. Leucine: The second most common amino acid found in proteins, leucine works with other aminos to keep muscles, skin and bones healthy while also supporting healthy blood sugar levels.
  4. Lysine: One of the better-known aminos for immune health, lysine plays an important role in the production of antibodies. It helps your body absorb and conserve calcium, important for bone development and the formation of collagen.
  5. Methionine: Methionine supplies sulfur and other compounds required by the body for normal metabolism and growth. It assists in breaking down fats while supporting brain, heart and kidney health.
  6. Phenylalanine: This amino is involved in the production of other amino acids and is a building block for certain neurotransmitters.
  7. Valine: This complex little amino promotes muscle growth and repair and plays a role in energy.
  8. Threonine: Vital for skin and connective tissue since it’s the main component of collagen and elastin. Threonine is also involved in fat metabolism.
  9. Tryptophan: Best-known for its role in making you sleepy after a big turkey dinner, tryptophan performs several other important functions beyond sleep and relaxation. It also aids weight management by reducing appetite and supports a strong immune function.

As you see, essential amino acids are important for many behind-the-scenes processes that keep your body properly functioning. Deficiencies can affect your reproductive, nervous, immune systems and more.

Other Important Amino Acids

While all 20 amino acids are important, here are a few popular ones you should be familiar with.  

  • Arginine: This popular amino acid plays a role in metabolism, immune system, the release of growth hormones, and reproductive health. It also supports heart health and is a major component of collagen, which important for skin and connective tissues. A good multi-purpose amino.
  • Carnitine: Carnitine boosts energy because it shuttles long-chain fatty acids into the energy-producing centers of the cells (known as mitochondria). In the last few years, it has emerged as important for the heart muscle and brain health, making it a good anti-aging option.
  • Glutamine: The most abundant amino acid in the body, glutamine is involved in more metabolic processes than any other amino acid. It is converted to glucose when more energy is needed and also assists in maintaining the proper pH in the body, needed to combat our diet of prepared foods.
  • Taurine: Often found in vision supplements due to its antioxidant properties, Taurine helps the contraction and pumping action of the heart muscle while supporting healthy blood pressure. It also plays a role in the digestion of fats.

Many athletes and non-athletes choose to use amino acid supplements to make sure they have a  solid foundation for good health.

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