Knowing your Amino Acids 101 is Foundational For All Health Needs.
If you are interested in nutrition, and how body processes work, then understanding Amino Acids 101 will help you navigate some of the whys of nutrition!
If you resonated “low” on your report with any amino acids, we hope you’ll find this guide extremely helpful.
Amino acids are the scaffolding of so many body processes.
The term ‘amino acids’ might call to mind memories of high school biology textbooks, filled with intricate diagrams and complex jargon. Yet, the reality of these compounds isn’t as daunting as you might think. At the most basic level, amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group.
Using this amino acids 101 guide is like a guide to the language of life. Just like alphabets form words and sentences, these molecules combine in various ways to form proteins, the structures that make up our cells and tissues. But before we delve deeper, let’s start with the basics.
Amino acids form protein, which is why we say they are the building blocks of the body.
Proteins are involved in:
- Enzyme building
- Muscle contractions
- Acid base balance
- Transporting molecules
- Creating structure
- Giving your body energy
- Antibodies and immunity
- Fluid balance
Think of amino acids as biochemical building blocks involved in almost every biological process.
Let’s explore the basics of these superheroes in this Amino Acids 101 guide!
Amino Acids 101: What Are They?
Amino acids are organic compounds that are like chains, that link together to proteins, which are vital for our bodies to function properly. This linking is what gives the name of “building blocks” of the body,
There are 20 standard amino acids in total, each with a unique structure and function. Nine of these are considered ‘essential’, meaning they cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained from the diet. The remaining eleven are ‘non-essential’, as the body can produce them internally.
These compounds are not just building blocks; they also play a critical role in many biological processes, from the synthesis of neurotransmitters to the regulation of immune function. This makes understanding amino acids not just an academic exercise, but a key to understanding our well-being in the quest of creating balanced health.
Amino Acids 101: Importance and Types
As mentioned earlier, amino acids form the structural components of proteins, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters, which control everything from muscle contraction to mood regulation.
In addition, amino acids are involved in energy production, nutrient absorption, and tissue repair. For example, the amino acid leucine plays a crucial role in muscle protein synthesis, while tryptophan is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep.
Sleep is foundational to your well being for rest and repair, but also to keep the Glymphatic System. part of the Lymph System, running smoothly.
Moreover, some amino acids have unique roles outside of protein synthesis. For instance, glutamate and aspartate are excitatory neurotransmitters, while glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are inhibitory. These amino acids help regulate brain function and the Nervous System, and maintain a balance between excitation and inhibition, which is essential for healthy brain function.
Amino Acids 101: Essential vs Non-Essential Amino Acids
Understanding the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids is vital to appreciating their role in our bodies. While both types are imperative for health, the key difference lies in how they are acquired.
Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body and must therefore be supplied through our diet. This is why it’s important to consume a varied diet rich in high-quality protein sources. Without adequate intake of these essential amino acids, our bodies cannot properly synthesize proteins, leading to potential health problems.
Plant based options, and animal foods contain protein. Combining different plant based options can ensure that you are getting all of your essential amino acid needs met. Navigating food choices with sensitivities can be challenging. Get started with our blog post The Best Diets for Bioenergetic Common Food Sensitivities.
Non-essential amino acids, while still important, can be made by the body from other amino acids or compounds. This ability to self-synthesize means that even if our dietary intake is lacking, our bodies can usually make up for it.
However, during times of illness or stress, the body’s demand for these amino acids might exceed its ability to produce them, making dietary intake important.
This is one of the reasons you may see different amino acids show up on the nutritional imbalances section of your Full Scan Report. They each have varied roles in the body, and microorganisms, or emotional stress, can throw them out of balance, physically, and bioenergetically.
List of the Essential Amino Acids 101 and Functions:
These amino acids combine in numerous ways to make proteins to keep your body functioning optimally (1).
- A branched-chain amino acid readily taken up and used for energy by muscle tissue
- Used to prevent muscle wasting in debilitated individuals
- Essential in the formation of hemoglobin
- A branched-chain amino acid used as a source of energy
- Helps to reduce muscle protein breakdown
- Modulates uptake of neurotransmitter precursors by the brain as well as the release of enkephalins, which inhibit the passage of pain signals into the nervous system
- Promotes healing of skin and broken bones
- A branched-chain amino acid. Not processed by the liver; rather actively taken up by muscle
- Influences brain uptake of other neurotransmitter precursors (tryptophan, phenylalanine and tyrosine)
- One of the major ultraviolet absorbing compounds in the skin
- Important in the production of red and white blood cells; used in the treatment of anemia
- Used in the treatment of allergic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and digestive ulcers
- Levels can slow protein synthesis, affecting muscle and connective tissue
- Inhibits viruses; used to support clearing herpes simplex
- Lysine and Vitamin C together form L-carnitine, a biochemical that enables muscle tissue to use oxygen more efficiently, delaying fatigue
- Aids bone growth by helping form collagen, the fibrous protein that makes up bone, cartilage, and other connective tissue
- A precursor of cysteine and creatine
- May increase antioxidant levels (glutathione) and reduce blood cholesterol levels
- Helps remove toxic wastes from the liver and assists in the regeneration of liver and kidney tissue
- The major precursor of tyrosine
- Enhances learning, memory, mood and alertness
- Used to support some types of depression
- Is a major element in the production of collagen
- Suppresses appetite
- A precursor of the key neurotransmitter serotonin, which exerts a calming effect
- Stimulates the release of growth hormones
- Freeform of this amino acid is largely unavailable in North America
- Helps T cells to recognize infectious microorganisms
- The central nervous system uses threonine to make amino acid glycine
- Found in high concentrations in the heart, skeletal muscles and central nervous system
- Plays an important role in maintaining the normal functioning of the body’s various systems such as the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, liver and immune system
List of the Non Essential Amino Acids and Functions:
- A major component of connective tissue
- A key intermediate in the glucose-alanine cycle, which allows muscles and other tissues to derive energy from amino acids
- Helps build up the immune system
- Works with histidine, to produce carnosine, to go into skeletal muscles. Carnosine reduces lactic acid accumulation and may prevent aging (2).
- Can increase secretion of insulin, glucagon, growth hormones
- Aids in injury rehabilitation, the formation of collagen and immune system stimulation
- A precursor of creatine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain)
- May increase sperm count and T-lymphocyte response
Aspartic Acid (we do not test for this)
- Helps convert carbohydrates into muscle energy
- Builds immune system immunoglobulins and antibodies
- Reduces ammonia levels after exercises
Asparagine (we do not test for this)
- Plays a critical role in the biosynthesis of glycoproteins
- Helps fight fatigue
- Assists in optimal liver function
- Contributes to strong connective tissue and tissue antioxidant actions
- Aids in healing processes, stimulating white blood cell activity and helps diminish pain from inflammation
- Essential for the formation of skin and hair
- A major precursor of glutamine, proline, ornithine, arginine, glutathione, and GABA
- A potential source of energy
- Important in brain metabolism and metabolism of other amino acids
- Most abundant amino acid
- Plays a key role in immune system functions
- An important source of energy, especially for kidneys and intestines during caloric restrictions
- A brain fuel that is an aid to memory and a stimulant to intelligence and concentration
- Aids in the manufacture of other amino acids and is a part of the structure of hemoglobin and cytochromes (enzymes involved in energy production)
- Has a calming effect and is sometimes used with manic-depressive and aggressive individuals
- A precursor of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, as well as thyroid, growth hormones, and melanin (the pigment responsible for skin and hair color)
- Elevates mood
- A major component in the formation of connective tissue and heart muscle
- Readily mobilized for muscular energy
- A major constituent of collagen
- Important in cells’ energy production
- Aids memory and nervous system function
- Helps build up the immune system by producing immunoglobulins and antibodies
How Our Body Uses Amino Acids
Beyond protein synthesis, amino acids play other crucial roles. For example, some serve as precursors to neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that facilitate communication between nerve cells. Others are involved in the metabolism and transport of nutrients, the regulation of gene expression, and the immune response.
Moreover, certain amino acids serve as energy sources. During periods of starvation or intense exercise, the body can break down proteins and use the resulting amino acids for energy. This demonstrates the incredible versatility of these compounds and their integral role in life.
Amino Acids 101: Start With Your Diet
Since essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by our bodies, they must be obtained from our diet. Luckily, many foods are rich in these vital compounds.
Sources of essential amino acids include animal products like meat, fish, and eggs. These are considered ‘complete’ protein sources because they contain all nine essential amino acids in sufficient quantities.
What if you are sensitive to some of these foods, or if you do not prefer to eat animal products?
Plant-based sources of essential amino acids include legumes, millet, amaranth, nuts, seeds, and seeds like quinoa and hemp. While most plant proteins are ‘incomplete’, meaning they lack one or more essential amino acids, a varied plant-based diet can still meet all of our amino acid needs.
Making sure your Digestive System is well supported, will ensure you are making enzymes, like the group of proteases that digest protein, so that foods can be broken down and the amino acids are available!
Top Takeaways For Your Own Amino Acid Needs
While this Amino Acids 101 guide can give you all the breakdown of the roles of each amino acid for your CBH Energetics Full Scan report, your top takeaway is to meet your protein needs, through plants or animal products, and through supporting your digestion, and digestive enzymes, that break down protein like protease, and pancreatin.
Protein synthesis is a complex process that involves the precise assembly of amino acids in a specific order. This order is determined by the genetic code, which is stored in our DNA.
Each protein is made up of a unique sequence of amino acids, which determines its structure and function. These sequences are like recipes, with each amino acid representing a different ingredient. The body uses these recipes to assemble proteins, which then carry out their specific functions in the body.
A deficiency in essential amino acids can lead to a variety of health problems, including growth delays, immune dysfunction, and even mood disorders.
Conversely, certain diseases can alter amino acid metabolism, leading to an excess or deficiency of certain compounds. For instance, cancer cells often have altered amino acid metabolism, which can be exploited for therapeutic purposes.
Moreover, research is exploring the use of specific amino acids as therapeutic agents in their own right. For example, the amino acid glutamine is being investigated for its potential to support gut health, improve immune function, and aid recovery from intense exercise or illness.
When creating balanced health is your goal, be sure to pay attention to your activity level, and even your age and stage to make sure you are getting all your protein needs through food, if possible and supplementation!
Having trouble making sense of your report? Book a consultation with us!
DISCLAIMER: Balanced Health, LLC/CBH Energetics and any parent, subsidiary, affiliated or related entities and companies do not provide medical advice or services. This post and the bioenergetic products and services offered by Balanced Health, LLC/CBH Energetics including, but not limited to, bioenergetic tests, bioenergetic scans, bioenergetic reports and related products and services (collectively the “Bioenergetic Products and Services”) are designed for educational and informational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, condition, complaint, illness or medical condition and are not a substitute for professional services or medical advice. Testing is not used for the purpose of obtaining information for the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease or the assessment of a health condition or for identification purposes.