What are the benefits of amino acid supplements? Before we delve in deeper, let us first have a short recap on what amino acids are.
Protein is the human body’s building blocks, but amino acid is the organic compound used to build proteins. The human body put the amino acids together and create muscles.
The composition of amino acids are nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group. Moreover, it synthesizes hormones and neurotransmitters.
The body needs 20 different amino acids to grow and function, but only nine out of these 20 amino acids are classified as essential.
9 Essential Amino Acids
1. Histidine: an amino acid responsible for producing an important neurotransmitter called histamine. Histamine has links to many of our body’s activities such as digestion, sleep-wake cycles, sexual function, and immune response. It also has its part in the nerve cells’ barrier called myelin sheath.
2. Isoleucine: is heavily concentrated in muscle tissue and involved in muscle metabolism. It’s also important for energy regulation, immune function, and hemoglobin production.
3. Leucine: is critical for repairing muscles and synthesizing protein. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, stimulates wound healing, and produces growth hormones.
4. Lysine: like the other amino acids have a major role in protein synthesis, plus vital in hormone and enzyme production and the absorption of calcium. It’s also important for immune function as well as the production of energy, collagen, and elastin.
5. Methionine: is working in metabolism and detoxification. Aside from that, it is also necessary for tissue’s growth and for the absorption of zinc and selenium–the minerals that are vital to your health.
6. Phenylalanine: plays an integral role in the structure and function of proteins and enzymes and the production of other amino acids.
7. Threonine: is a principal part of structural proteins such as collagen and elastin, which are important components of the skin and connective tissue. Additionally, it plays a role in fat metabolism and immune function.
8. Tryptophan: is responsible for the drowsiness feelings. But aside from that, it helps to relieve fatigue caused by different levels of stress and improve brain function. Tryptophan can maintain proper nitrogen balance and is a precursor to serotonin–a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, sleep, and mood.
9. Valine: is helping in stimulating muscle growth and regeneration and is involved in energy production.
The essential amino acids are considered the core of many vital processes. Additional trivia about is it is longer by half a life than the non-essential ones. Moreover, when one of these 9 amino acids is absent, others cannot be used.
Essential Amino Acids vs. Conditional Amino Acids
Essential Amino Acids
The human body can’t produce essential amino but they are present in our food. Foods referred to as complete proteins are good sources of essential amino acids. Meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are the food consider as complete protein foods. There are also plant-based products that contain all the nine essential amino acids. They are soy, quinoa, and buckwheat. Legumes, nuts, and seeds are also a plant-based source of protein, however, it is considered incomplete.
Three out of the nine essential amino acids are the primary building blocks of muscles: valine, leucine, and isoleucine. They are called branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). BCAA has a chemical makeup that has a unique branched structure that helps in the growth and repair of muscle tissue as well as helps in preventing muscle breakdown. They also act as fuel for the muscles and is responsible for slimming down.
Conditional Amino Acids
If there are essential amino acids, there are also nonessential ones except during illness and extreme stress. They are called conditional amino acids as they are only needed during the mentioned situations. Some of them improve blood flow to the muscles and some help repair damaged DNA and promote skin firmness. Others increase water retention in the muscles and signal cell growth, while some recognized as a potent immune nutrient, enhancing immune function to a great extent. Some are simply the combination of the mentioned. The conditional amino acids are arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine.
10 Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements
Taking amino acid supplements is beneficial to the body. Our food intake is sometimes inadequate to provide the level of amino acids we actually need.
Amino acids are very helpful in building muscles as it could tip the catabolism/anabolism balance. Aside from this, amino acids have other positive benefits for the body. Listed below are 10 benefits.
1. Fight inflammation
The three essential amino acids or BCAA, valine, leucine, and isoleucine can help fight inflammation according to a study. Other studies have also shown that orally administered amino acids display anti-inflammatory activity.
2. Improve concentration, mood, and sleep
Serotonin is a vital regulator of mood, sleep, and behaviors. It is a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter in your body. When a person has a low level of serotonin in the body, the person tends to have a depressed mood and disturbances in sleep.
Tryptophan is the essential amino acid (EAA) that is needed for the production of serotonin. Several studies show that supplementing with tryptophan reduces the symptoms of depression. It boosts mood and improves sleep.
It was even found to increase energy and improve happiness when a 19-day study was conducted in 60 years old women. They were given 1 gram of tryptophan every day and the results were gathered.
3. Reduce fatigue
A Swedish study shows that the intake of BCAAs decreases exercise exertion and mental fatigue. It can particularly improve cognitive performance post-exercise.
Also, because amino acids can aid to better sleep, it can help reduce the fatigue the following morning.
4. Boost immunity levels
Dietary supplementation of amino acids is proven to develop the immunity status and prevent infectious diseases.
Glutamine, one of the conditional amino acids, is recognized as the potent immune nutrient in boosting immune function. For instance, it increases water retention in the muscles and signals cell growth at the same time. There are numerous studies that support the importance of this amino acid in clinical nutrition.
Based on the report of the Cambridge University press, amino acids’ metabolism holds great promise in enhancing immune function. Moreover, it elevates the energy levels and accelerates the wound healing.
5. Improve cognitive health
Because amino acids have tyrosine on the team, it helps to improve cognitive performance and brain function, especially during exposure to a high level of stress.
Research also tells that amino acids can be converted to neurotransmitters that boost mood which help fight and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
6. Delay aging
The muscle tissues diminish as we age. This is called sarcopenia. Positively, the amino acids can do a part in preventing and treating this. Arginine and carnitine are responsible for repairing damaged DNA and promoting sin firmness.
7. Promote hair growth
Arginine, lysine, cysteine, and methionine are the amino acids beneficial for hair growth. They produce keratin and create red blood cells which are the two important substances for hair growth. Keratin is the most important protein for the hair, while red blood cells are what deliver oxygen to the hair follicles. Both promote hair growth.
8. Boost exercise performance
The BCAAs are widely used to improve athletic performance, stimulate muscle recovery after exercise, and alleviate fatigue. In other words, taking BCAAs supplement is superior in promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness after a tiring exercise as well as in increasing strength performance. Amino acids are beneficial both to athletes and non-athletes.
9. Prevent muscle loss
Prolonged illnesses and bed rest commonly cause muscle loss, especially in older people. Essential amino acids are responsible for preventing muscle breakdown and preserving lean body mass. There is a study where they found that EAA supplements are also effective not just in athletes but also in elderlies in preserving lean body mass.
10. Promote weight loss
BCAAs have shown to suppress appetite and this can contribute to weight loss. But besides that, research has found that amino acids boost fat loss. It can improve muscle synthesis and lead to healthy fat loss as a consequence.