What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are organic compounds composed of one or more amino groups, and one or more acidic carboxyl groups, and are the basic building blocks of protein. There have been more than 100 amino acids found in living organisms. Only 20 amino acids are commonly found in animals, the others exist in other biological systems, primarily plants.
Amino Acids are used for growth, maintenance, and repair of cells in the body. Of the 20 amino acids found in animals, 12 of them can be synthesized by the body as needed, and these are referred to as nonessential amino acids. The remaining 8 amino acids, cannot be synthesized by the body, and therefore must be acquired from food or supplement, and these are referred to as essential amino acids.
The 20 amino acids are;
Essential: Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.
Nonessential: Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartate, Cysteine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine.
Why Supplement Amino Acids?
Arginine is a nonessential amino acid, and it is responsible for the normal function of the pituitary glands. Arginine is used to compose the compound nitric oxide, which has many beneficial effects. Nitric oxide reduces blood vessel stiffness and increases , improving blood vessel function. Arginine supplementation is effective for lowering cholesterol, regulating blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, enhancing sexual feeling in both men and women, improving long term memory, and fighting infections.
Branched chain amino acids or BCAA's are the essential aminos leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA's are considered to be among the most beneficial and effective supplements in any sports nutrition program. They are needed for the maintenance of muscle tissue and appear to preserve muscle glycogen stores, and help prevent muscle protein breakdown during exercise. BCAA supplements may be used to prevent muscle loss at high altitudes, prolong endurance performance, and to provide the needed amino acids not provided by a vegetarian diet.
Carnitine is made in the body from essential amino acids, Lysine and Methionine, and is needed to release energy from fat. Carnitine is commonly used to promote growth and development, fat-burning, increasing energy, and improved resistance to muscle fatigue. Individuals, who supplement Carnitine while engaging in strenuous exercise routines, are less likely to experience muscle soreness.
Creatine is made up of three amino acids - Arginine, Glycine and Methionine. Our liver combines these three amino acids to make creatine. 95% of the creatine in our bodies is stored in the muscles. Creatine provides instant additional energy to the muscles. Unlike the energy provided by carbohydrates or fats, which take some time to convert to useable energy, the energy for creatine can be converted almost instantaneously. Creatine also increases muscle volume, by pulling water into the muscle cells, and decreases muscle burn during exercise. Creatine also increases protein synthesis, meaning greater muscle gain.
GABA or gamma-amino butyric acid is a synthetic compound designed to lower fat levels and increase lean muscle tissues by stimulating the brain to secrete more human growth hormone. Studies have shown GABA to be effective stimulating the secretion of HGH, and has been clinically proven to help the pituitary gland secret HGH.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. The body relies on glutamine as cellular fuel for the immune system. After intense work outs, glutamine levels in the body are reduced by as much as 50%. Glutamine supplementation can minimize the breakdown of muscle tissue and improve protein metabolism. Studies have shown that with as little as 2 grams of free-form L-glutamine supplement, growth-hormone levels can increase up to a 400%.
Lysine is an essential amino acid. Lysine is important for proper growth and the production of carnitine, a nutrient responsible for converting fatty acids into energy and helping to lower cholesterol. Lysine helps the body absorb and conserve calcium and maintaining the correct nitrogen balance in the body and maintaining lean body mass. Lysine is useful for patients recovering from injuries and recovery after operations, and to help maintain healthy blood vessels. It also assists in fighting herpes and cold sores.
NAC or n-acetyl cysteine is an altered form of the amino acid cysteine. NAC may assist to break down mucus and used in the treatment of bronchitis - for this reason it is used as an inhalant in hospitals in the treatment of bronchitis. It assists the body in synthesizing glutathione and helps to protect the body from acetaminophen (the ingredient in Tylenol).
SAM-E is a derivative of the amino acid Methionine, and is used in the treatment of many conditions including depression, liver disease, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, schizophrenia, and migraine headaches. SAM-E is also commonly referred to as S-Adensyl Methionine, L-Methionine, Adomet, and Ademethionine. The liver produces as much as 8 grams of SAM-e a day. Liver disease, osteoarthritis, and extensive use of prescription, and over the counter medications, can inhibit the body's production of SAM-e.
Tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid. Tyrosine is needed to make epinephrine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which work to regulate mood. Deficiencies in tyrosine, therefore, have been associated with depression. Taken ahead of time, tyrosine may suppress typical bodily reactions and feelings from stressful situations like surgery, emotional upset, and sleep deprivation.