The body is made up of cells, tissues, organs, and systems. And all these work together to give you a full functioning body. But obviously, the body can’t function if there are no nutrients available. That’s why we must eat. Not just eat anything, but good nutritious foods. One of the major nutrients needed in the body is protein. And protein is made up of amino acids. That’s why you can get amino acids in food. Well, if you’re familiar with amino acids you would know that there are 20 different amino acids. Now, among these 20 there are 9 that are essential. These essential amino acids have roles to play in the body. And most importantly they can only be gotten from food and supplements.
So normally, there are certain amino acids that your body can produce. Those are non-essential. This does not mean that they are not essential in literal terms, it just means that you don’t have to bother that much about getting them from other sources. But the essential ones can’t be produced by the body. So it’s your job to worry about how these amino acids would get into your body. Is it really important to eat foods rich in these amino acids? Of course yes. Many benefits come with these amino acids. We’ll be looking at them as we go on.
What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein just like glucose is the building block of carbs. So the coming together of amino acids would result in the production of protein. That’s why amino acids are very essential in the body.
Usually, when you eat foods that are high in protein, the digestive system does the job of breaking in down. When they are broken down it leads to the production of amino acids. The amino acids that are broken down by the body are then again combined for different functions in the body.
When you’re healthy, your body can produce 11 of the 20 amino acids. These 11 amino acids aren’t usually gotten through diet.
Amino acids are very important for the building of muscles in the body. They are also responsible for certain chemical reactions that occur in the body. Another function is that they help reduce the occurrence of illness in the body. And amino acids also have effects on other things that have to do with your health.
There are 9 essential amino acids as mentioned earlier. And these 9 have various functions in the body. When you’re deficient in one the symptoms vary from when you’re deficient in the other. Let’s take a look at the 9 essential ones.
- Lysine: This amino acid is important for building muscle and also improving bone strength. It is also effective for speeding up recovery and regulating certain hormones in the body. Also, it has antiviral properties.
- Histidine: This helps facilitate growth, helps out with tissue repair, and creates new blood cells. It is also effective in maintaining myelin sheath which is a covering for nerve cells. When metabolized it becomes histamine which is essential for immunity.
- Methionine: Together with cysteine which is a non-essential amino acid it helps improve the flexibility of the skin and hair. Also, it helps in keeping the nail strong. It is also known to help improve the absorption of minerals such as zinc and selenium. And also helps in removing heavy metals like mercury and lead.
- Threonine: This amino acid as well, is important for the health of the skin and teeth. It is a component of elastin, collagen, and tooth enamel. Also, it helps out with the metabolism of fat in the body.
- Isoleucine: It helps out with immunity, hormone production, wound healing, and regulation of the blood glucose level. This amino acid is present in muscles and also helps in regulating energy levels.
- Valine: This is important for the coordination of muscle, has a calming effect, and also helps out in focusing mentally. That’s why people use valine supplements for tissue repair, muscle growth, and energy.
- Leucine: This amino acid as well is very important for the growth of muscle and bones. It also helps out with repairing both. Also, it helps out in regulating the amount of glucose in the blood. And it’s important for the wound healing process.
- Tryptophan: This is very important in infants. It’s important for their growth. Also, it’s a precursor to the production of melatonin and serotonin. And serotonin happens to be a neurotransmitter that helps out with regulating mood, pain, and sleep. Melatonin as well is very effective in regulating sleep.
- Phenylalanine: This is the amino acid that helps the body make use of other amino acids well. And this includes enzymes and proteins as well. Also, the body forms tyrosine from phenylalanine. And tyrosine is very important for certain functions in the brain.
With all these, you can see that amino acids are indeed very important in the body. They all work together for the proper functioning of the body. So how can you get these amino acids? Well, you can get them from certain foods. Let’s take a look at some of the foods.
Amino Acid In Food
Here’s a list of foods that are rich in the amino acids listed above.
- Lysine: Black beans, meat, soy, eggs, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa
- Histidine: Seeds, fish, poultry, meat, whole grains, and nuts
- Methionine: Nuts, eggs, seeds, and grains
- Threonine: Wheat germ and cottage cheese
- Isoleucine: Fish, egg, poultry, meat, lentils, cheese, seeds, and nuts
- Valine: soy, peanuts, whole grains, cheese, vegetables, and mushrooms
- Leucine: Legumes, soy, dairy, and beans
- Tryptophan: Turkey, wheat germ, chicken, and cottage cheese
- Phenylalanine: Nuts, dairy, poultry, fish, meat, beans, and soy
Above are just a few examples of foods that contain a good amount of amino acids. Most foods that are protein, either animal-based or plant-based are good sources of essential amino acids. There are even some that contain more than 2 essential amino acids. The important thing is incorporating them into your diet. With this, you will be able to have enough amino acids in food.