Introduction to Amino Acids
- So, What are Amino Acids?
- Characteristics of Amino Acids
- Why are Amino acids important for our body and what they do?
- Food Sources
- Is it okay to use amino acid supplements? What does an amino acid supplement do?
- Who should not take amino acids?
- Types of Amino Acids and for each type, how many amino acid are there?
- How to Get the Most from Your Diet
- Are amino acids a carbohydrate?
- Amino acids join together to make?
- Amino acids for Weight Loss
In casual language, we refer to amino acids as “building blocks” or “bricks” that are the foundation of physical features of organisms. In fact, most organisms have their physical characters developed with just 20 amino acids.
For us humans, the 20 amino acids make up our;
- Hormones, etc.
So, What are Amino Acids?
An amino acid is an organic molecule having characteristic amino group (-NH₂) and a carboxyl group (-COOH). Their reaction gives out an water molecule (H₂O) and makes up the peptide bond.
In general, amino acids are crystalline and sweet tasting compounds, chemically called as carbonic acids. Binding of amino acids results in formation of protein in the cell ribosome.
Characteristics of Amino Acids
Amino acids are usually present in L-form in the human body. If D-form is consumed, it is converted to the standard L-form by liver enzymes.
Over 300 amino acids are discovered, but only 20 amino acids are standard and present in protein because they are coded by genes present in our bodies.
Why are Amino acids important for our body and what they do?
As they make up several different types of proteins, they are crucial in the protein synthesis occurring in our cells. At a cellular level, the DNA that contains the code for different kinds of proteins uses these amino acids and arrange them sequentially. This arrangement is done between the amino (-NH₂) group and carboxylic (-COOH) group, till a protein is formed.
Later, these proteins develop into other structures such as hormones, antibodies, enzymes, etc., all of which are essential for our survival.
- Eggs (contains all 9 essential amino acids!)
- Cottage cheese
- Legumes and Beans
Is it okay to use amino acid supplements? What does an amino acid supplement do?
They are safe to consume on a daily basis, unless consumed in excess or without actual need. As the upper limit varies from person to person, it is tough to conclude an upper limit.
An amino acid supplement is usually used by athletes and bodybuilders to top up their amino acid levels to ensure proper recovery, optimum performance and resistance to ailments. Other than this, it is normally used to treat any deficiencies that may be caused by irregular or non-sufficient diet.
Who should not take amino acids?
As a general rule, any disease associated with kidneys can be worsened by their consumption. EAA’s, BCAA’s, and other amino acids as a whole, should be avoided, especially if affected by conditions such as; Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS) or maple syrup urine disease (branched-chain ketoaciduria).
Types of Amino Acids and for each type, how many amino acid are there?
Essential Amino Acids: These are so called because they are not produced by our bodies, so we need to get them from other sources. These are found in nearly all animal products and after consumption, our body absorbs them as per the required proportions. Among these, we have the Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) that are basically three (3) amino acids combined, namely Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Their utmost significance is due to their ability to contribute to increased muscle mass.
There are 9 Essential Amino Acids which are enlisted below:
Non- Essential Amino Acids: These are by default synthesized by the body, thus, there is no need to consume them from other sources.
There are 11 Non-Essential Amino Acids which are enlisted below:
- Aspartic Acid
- Glutamic Acid
A Guide to Your Common Queries
How to Get the Most from Your Diet
The key to ensuring you obtain the most benefits from these essential nutrients is to focus on correctly balancing them in your diet. This means that if you are consuming a predominantly plant-based diet, it’s best to focus on consuming complete proteins so that all necessary amino acids can be obtained. Additionally, for those who consume animal products, try focusing on sources of high-quality protein such as fish, poultry, or eggs. Doing so will ensure an adequate intake of essential amino acids.
Are amino acids a carbohydrate?
No, amino acids are not carbohydrates.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and contain an amino group (-NH2) and a carboxyl group (-COOH) on the same carbon atom, as well as a side chain that is unique to each amino acid.
Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are molecules composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms, with a ratio of 1:2:1. Examples of carbohydrates, include glucose, fructose, and starch.
While both amino acids and carbohydrates are important components of a balanced diet, they are distinct molecules with different functions in the body.
Amino acids join together to make?
Amino acids join together to make proteins. Proteins are large complex molecules that play many important roles in the body, such as forming the structural basis for cells and tissues, catalyzing chemical reactions, transporting molecules, and transmitting signals.
When two or more amino acids are linked together, they form a peptide bond, which is a covalent bond between the carboxyl group of one amino acid and the amino group of another amino acid. A long chain of amino acids linked by peptide bonds is called a polypeptide.
Proteins are formed from one or more polypeptide chains that fold into specific three-dimensional shapes, determined by the sequence of amino acids in the chain. This folding process is essential for the protein’s function, as it determines how the protein interacts with other molecules in the body.
Amino acids for Weight Loss
Amino acids are important nutrients that play various roles in the body, including building and repairing tissues, synthesizing enzymes and hormones, and supporting the immune system. While amino acids themselves do not directly cause weight loss, they can be helpful in promoting weight loss in combination with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Here are a few ways that amino acids may be helpful for weight loss:
- Protein synthesis: Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are important for maintaining and building lean muscle mass. Having more lean muscle mass can increase your metabolism and help you burn more calories even at rest, which can aid in weight loss.
- Appetite control: Some amino acids, such as tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylalanine, can help regulate appetite and reduce cravings for sugary and fatty foods. By controlling your appetite, you may be better able to stick to a healthy diet and achieve your weight loss goals.
- Energy production: Amino acids are also involved in energy production, which is important for fueling exercise and physical activity. By having more energy, you may be able to engage in more intense workouts and burn more calories. With amino acid intake, we can ensure that we have optimum levels of energy throughout the day.
- Stress reduction: Chronic stress can lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Some amino acids, such as glutamine and taurine, have been shown to help reduce stress and improve mood, which can aid in weight loss.
However, it’s important to note that amino acid and weight loss are not directly co-related. Rather, amino acids should be consumed as part of a balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods, such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Additionally, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle are also essential components of weight loss.