What Are Amino Acids?
Amino Acids – You may have heard of them but do you know what they are? Essentially, Amino Acids are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. This is pretty important considering Amino Acids and Proteins are the building blocks of life.
The process works something like this : Your body takes the amino acids from the food you eat to then form proteins. Your body then uses the proteins to grow, repair body tissue, break down food, and provide energy to the body.
We can classify amino acids into three different categories based on a few different qualities and how ‘essential’ they are to everyday bodily functions.
1. Essential Amino Acids
Our first group of Amino Acids are the Essential Amino Acids. These are amino acids that cannot be produced by the body and must instead come from the food we eat. The 9 essential amino acids are :
Histidine – Used to produce histamine. Histamine is important to immune response and digestion.
Isoleucine – Involved in muscle metabolism, immune function, and energy regulation.
Leucine – Regulates blood sugar and produces growth hormones.
Lysine – Helps with protein synthesis and absorption of calcium.
Methionine – Needed for tissue growth and absorption of zinc and selenium.
Phenylalanine – Necessary in the structure and function of proteins.
Threonine – Helps immune function and fat metabolism.
Tryptophan – Needed to help maintain regular moods, sleep, and appetite.
Valine – Stimulates muscle growth and energy production.
Two great Vegan options for ensuring you’re getting all the needed essential amino acids are Tofu and Quinoa.
2. Non-essential Amino Acids
Non-essential Amino Acids are Amino Acids that our body does produce, not dependent on the food we eat. These non-essential Amino Acids help support tissue growth, immune function, and red blood cell formation.
Non-essential Amino Acids include : alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.
3. Conditional Amino Acids
Conditional Amino Acids are generally not considered essential to maintain normally bodily function unless the body is sick or severely stressed. This can happen due to injury or trauma of some kind, however whatever the reason, the body can stop producing or not produce enough non-essential Amino Acids, which would require them to supplement these Amino Acids through the food we eat.
Conditional Amino Acids are the same as Non-essential Amino Acids, however the difference is our ability to produce them : alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine.