Amino Acids

Amino acids are organic compounds, which contain functional groups of amino as well as carboxylic acid. An amino acid is a compound containing carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and in some cases sulfur. All these compounds form the basis of proteins, which are essential for our health and wellbeing.

These elements bind together forming chain and giving rise to things, which, in turn, create life. In fact, this involves a two-step process. In the first step, these elements bind together to form peptides or polypeptides. These groupings subsequently make proteins.

There are 20 diverse types of amino acids that form proteins. Each of these types determines the shape or form of the proteins. The common amino acids include glycine, glutamine, tryptophan, phenylalanine and valine. Among these, three of amino acids, tryptophan, phenylalanine and valine, are considered as vital amino acids in humans. Others are leucine, isoleucine, lysine, threonine and methionine. Since our body is unable to synthesize these types of amino acids, it is necessary that we ingest them through food.

Tryptophan is among the most familiar essential amino acids. This particular amino acid is responsible for various vital functions in the human body. Tryptophan not only aids in inducing normal sleep, but it also helps in lessening depression, anxiety and risk of artery spasms. At the same time, this amino acid helps to make the immune system stronger. Perhaps, tryptophan is best known for its ability in serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with good sleep.

It is interesting to note that various amino acids comprise roughly 75 percent of the human body. Amino acids are necessary for almost all bodily functions as well as the entire chemical reactions occurring inside our body. In fact, the chemical reactions largely depend on the amino acids as well as the proteins developed by them.

It is important for every one of us to ingest essential amino acids daily through our food. In fact, the absence of any one of these essential amino acids may cause a condition called protein degradation, as unlike in the case of starches and fats, the human body does not accumulate essential amino acids for future use. 

Health benefits

Amino acids are extremely essential for building the assortment of proteins required by our body for growth, repair as well as maintenance of the tissues. Actually, amino acids play numerous vital roles in the human body, i.e. in promoting our health and protecting from diseases. For instance, the amino acid alanine is essential for promoting appropriate levels of blood glucose from proteins consumed through our diet. Alanine helps to encourage production of lymphocytes and may also be beneficial for people struggling with immune suppression. It has been established that alanine works to reinforce the immune system by means of antibody production.

Similarly, our immune system uses L-arginine to aid in governing the thymus gland activities. In fact, the thymus gland produces the antibody called T lymphocytes. Moreover, our body makes use of arginine to manufacture nitric acid, which is an endogenous or internally derived messenger molecule that is involved in various types of physiological effects on our cardiovascular system, especially those that are dependent on endothelium. Asparagine is required in our central nervous system (CNS) to sustain equilibrium - avoid extreme nervousness or being extremely calm. On the other hand, aspartic acid possesses the aptitude to shield the liver from toxicity due to certain drugs and, at the same time, protect our body from damages due to radiation.

The amino acid carnosine dissolves in water and, as far as its role in shielding the cell membranes from damages caused by oxidation is considered, it is a viable counterpart of vitamin E. It has been established that L-carnosine endorses aging healthily as well as cellular rejuvenation. These effects of this amino acid are attributed to its two means of action - glycosylation and foraging as well as eliminating free radicals. Cysteine helps to reinforce the protective lining inside the stomach and intestines. This lining may be susceptible to damages caused by use of aspirin and other similar drugs. Glutamine is another essential amino acid that offers a number of health benefits, including preventing oxidative stress, regulating the immune system, nitrogen shuttling, promoting intestinal health, muscle preservation, protecting from injuries and several other health advantages.

Glycine is another essential amino acid with inhibitory properties. This amino acid is responsible for various vital functions, both centrally as well as peripherally. Glycine may also be recommended to aid in alleviating the symptoms related to spasticity. Another essential amino acid, histidine is vital for maintaining the myelin sheaths that enclose the nerves, especially the auditory nerve. Histidine is often employed for treating a number of types of hearing disabilities. The amino acid isoleucine is essential for the most favourable growth of infants and also to maintain the balance of nitrogen in adults. Leucine is also an essential amino acid and it is employed in the form of a source for synthesizing blood sugar in our liver, especially during stress, starvation and infection. It is known to help in healing all these conditions effectively.

The essential amino acid lysine is employed for dealing with as well as preventing the excruciating and horrid condition known as herpes, which is attributed to the herpes simplex virus or HSV. Another essential amino acid methionine is not only a potent antioxidant, but also a lipotrope. In other words, this amino acid facilitates the removal of unwanted fat from the liver.

Phenylalanine is another essential amino acid, which is employed for curing depression, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, menstrual cramps, Parkinson's disease and even cancer. The amino acid proline is present as a vital ingredient of specific wound dressings, especially those using collagen pieces to promote wound healing. On the other hand, serine is required for metabolizing fats and fatty acids. This amino acid also plays a vital role in healthy muscle growth and reinforcing the immune system.