Amino Acids and their Role in the Body
Amino acids build muscle, instigate chemical reactions in the body, transport nutrients, help prevent illness, and carry out many other functions. Amino acid deficiency can result in decreased immunity, digestive problems, depression, fertility issues, lower mental alertness, slowed growth in children, and many other health issues.
Essential Amino Acids
Histidine facilitates growth, create blood cells, and repair tissue. It also helps maintain the special protective covering over nerve cells, called the myelin sheath.
The body metabolizes histidine into histamine, which is crucial for immunity, reproductive health, and digestion.
Deficiency can cause anemia, and low blood levels appear to be more common in people with arthritis and kidney disease.
Isoleucine helps wound healing, building immunity, blood sugar regulation, and hormone production. Primarily present in muscle tissue and helps to regulates energy levels.
Older adults may be more prone to isoleucine deficiency. Deficiency may cause muscle wasting and shaking.
Leucine helps regulate blood sugar levels and aids the growth and repair of muscle and bone. It is responsible for wound healing and producing growth hormone.
Leucine deficiency can lead to skin rashes, hair loss, and fatigue.
Lysine builds muscle, maintains bone strength, aids recovery from injury or surgery, and regulates hormones, antibodies and enzymes.
Deficiency may lead to stress-induced anxiety.
Methionine and the nonessential amino acid Cysteine help in the health and flexibility of skin and hair. It assists proper absorption of selenium and zinc and the removal of heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.
Phenylalanine assists the body to use the other amino acids as well as proteins and enzymes. The body converts Phenylalanine to Tyrosine, necessary for specific brain functions.
Phenylalanine deficiency, although rare, can cause eczema, fatigue, and memory problems in adults.
Threonine maintains healthy skin and teeth. It is a component in tooth enamel, collagen and elastin. It helps aid fat metabolism and may be beneficial for people with indigestion, anxiety, and mild depression.
Tryptophan is necessary for growth in infants and is a precursor of serotonin and melatonin. (Serotonin regulates appetite, sleep, mood, and pain. Melatonin also regulates sleep).
Tryptophan deficiency can cause pellagra, which can lead to dementia, skin rashes, and digestive issues
Valine is essential for mental focus, muscle coordination, and emotional calm. People may use valine supplements for muscle growth, tissue repair, and energy.
Deficiency may cause insomnia and reduced mental function.
Good dietary sources of Protein and Amino Acids include meat, eggs, tofu, soy, buckwheat, quinoa, and dairy.
The foods in the following list are the most common sources of essential amino acids:
- Lysine is in meat, eggs, soy, black beans, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds.
- Histidine is in Meat, fish, poultry, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Threonine is in Cottage cheese and wheat germ.
- Methionine is in eggs, grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Valine is in soy, cheese, peanuts, mushrooms, whole grains, and vegetables.
- Isoleucine is in meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese, lentils, nuts, and seeds.
- Leucine is in Dairy, soy, beans, and legumes.
- Phenylalanine is in dairy, meat, poultry, soy, fish, beans, and nuts.
- Tryptophan is in wheat germ, cottage cheese, chicken, and turkey.