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Amino acid is any one of a class of simple organic compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and in some cases sulfur. Amino acids are biochemical building blocks. They form short polymer chains called peptides polypeptides which in turn form structures called proteins. Amino acids are important for proper functioning of our body. There are 23 or so amino acids out of which, according to one accepted classification, 9 (isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) are essential acids which cannot be produced by our body and must be supplied from food or supplement sources whereas the nonessential amino acids (arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine) can be produced or synthesized by our body from other amino acids. Other amino acids, such as carnitine, are used to simply for therapeutic benefits such as stronger muscles.
Every cell in our body needs and uses amino acids. Our body breaks down the protein from foods into its essential individual amino acids, which are then reconstituted to create the specific types of proteins our body needs.
The role of amino acid includes repairing muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin, ligaments, and glands. Amino acids also help to create hormones, enzymes, essential body fluids and neurotransmitters for the brain. Some amino acids supplements can help lower blood pressure, alleviate pain, fight heart disease and protect against stroke. A deficiency in even one of them will severely compromise one’s health.
Foods of animal origin, such as meat and poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are the richest dietary sources of the essential amino acids. Plant sources of protein are often deficient in one or more essential amino acids. However, these deficiencies can be overcome by consuming a wide variety of plant foods. Your doctor can determine if you have an amino acid deficiency with a simple blood test. Pregnant women or anyone with liver or kidney disease should consult a doctor before using amino acid supplements. Similarly, consult your doctor before using amino acid if you have or are suffering from any medical condition.
Today, our diet is composed largely of processed foods, and often lacks in quality protein, so just about everyone could benefit from some form of amino acid supplements. Amino acid supplements have no known side effects as long as they are taken in the recommended amounts. High doses of certain amino acids, however, may be toxic and produce diarrhea, vomiting or nausea.