What are amino acids?
Amino acids are the pieces that are left over after your body breaks down proteins.
If the protein was a Lego house, amino acids are the Lego blocks.
(Science explanation warning)
Each of those protein Lego blocks is made up of a carbon atom as the foundation. Attached to that carbon atom is an amino group, which is a nitrogen atom with two separately attached hydrogen atoms, a carboxyl group, another carbon atom with a double-bonded oxygen atom and a hydroxide compound (oxygen and hydrogen), a single hydrogen atom and a “side chain” that is unique to the specific amino acid.
(Science explanation complete)
There are 20 different types of amino acids and they make up thousands of different combinations (around 50,000).
Our body uses all of those different combinations for different purposes.
Each combination is a different type of protein.
Each amino acid is categorized into three different types.
- Essential Amino Acids
- Non-Essential Amino Acids
- Conditional Amino Acids
Nine of the twenty amino acids are considered “essential“. The reason they are essential is that they cannot be made by the body and must be consumed as food or taken as a supplement. Included in the Essential Amino Acid group are the BCAAs. (To learn more about BCAAs, click here)
The Essential Amino Acids, starting with the three BCAAs, are as follows:
Non-Essential Amino Acids are produced by the body when they are needed and are not necessary to consume in food or as a supplement unless there is a deficiency.
In normal circumstances, the remaining 11 amino acids are considered non-essential:
Conditional Amino Acids
All twenty amino acids fit into the essential and non-essential, but some have an additional identifier.
Six of the 11 Non-Essential Amino Acids are also Conditional Amino Acids.
This means they are considered essential under certain conditions (illness, stress, etc) in which the body cannot produce enough of them.
The six Conditional Amino Acids are:
When it comes to intense exercise, the conditional amino acids are sometimes taken as a supplement because the stress of the exercise can inhibit production, while the exercise itself uses what the body already has.
Arginine and Glutamine are two of the conditional amino acids that gym-goers will look for in a pre-workout drink mix or another style of a supplement.
Which Do What?
It is beyond the scope of this article to get into what each amino acid does or is used for, but as we expand our posts, we will add links to each article for the separate amino acids.
In general, Essential Amino Acids are vital in many extremely important roles in the body’s functions, including but not limited to:
- Tissue growth (skin, connective tissue and muscle)
- Energy production
- Neurotransmitter production (serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, etc)
- Immune function
- Nutrient absorption
Non-Essential Amino Acids also have many very important roles, including:
- Tissue growth and repair
- Red blood cell production
- Hormone synthesis
- Immune function
Amino Acids Are Important
As you can see, amino acids are required for us to live healthy lives.
Most of the functions that we take for granted, the ones that happen without us even knowing, are done because of amino acids.
Whether you get yours from your diet or supplements, make sure you keep getting them to feel and be your best!
To make sure you get enough BCAAs, we have developed MetaBCAA. MetaBCAA includes an optimum 2:1:1 ratio, glutamine and vitamin B6, giving you a great energy boost!
Thank you for reading and welcome to the MetaFire Life!