Amino acids are the building blocks of the proteins in your body. There are two main categories of amino acids: essential and conditional. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be manufactured in your body. They must be consumed in your diet. Nonessential amino acids can be produced in your body. It is NOT essential that you consume these amino acids in your diet; thus, they are termed “nonessential.” There is a third category termed “conditional” amino acids. These are supposedly only essential during times of stress. However, most people are constantly under stress and thus these amino acids are essential (need to be consumed in your diet).
Essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine
Nonessential amino acids: alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, tyrosine.
Conditional amino acids: arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, serine.
Animal proteins, such as chicken, fish, and beef, are called “complete proteins” because they contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs to perform various functions. You can obtain all of the essential amino acids by eating combinations of specific plant foods, but the best source of essential amino acids is from animal proteins.
When you eat animal proteins or plant foods that contain amino acids, your digestive system breaks down the individual amino acids. They are then used by your body systems and organs to repair body tissues and structures, build muscle fibers, create neurotransmitters, and many more important functions. Amino acid deficiency can lead to depression, immune disorders, slower growth, and even death. There are rare genetic diseases that cause amino acid deficiencies and greatly impact the quality of life.
Amino acid supplements are primarily used for brain and mood disorders, digestion issues, and building muscle.