What are Amino Acids?
Amino acids are building blocks of protein utilized in your body. They build and repair cells, synthesize hormones and are important in mental health. There are about 20 amino acids that the body uses to complete these tasks, and they are divided into essential and non-essential amino acids. Because an amino acid is “essential” doesn’t mean it’s any more important than “non-essential”, it just means that the body can’t make the essential amino acid on its own. There are 8 essential amino acids that must be supplied by our food.
Why are Amino Acids Important?
In order for the amino acids to do their jobs, they must all be present in the body at the same time and in the proper quantity to “get the job done”. If one amino acid level in the body is too low, it can greatly reduce protein synthesis, which will affect every process in the body. Therefore, it is important you for you include sources of amino acids in your diet.
Where do essential amino acids come from?
Amino acids come from “complete protein sources”, such as animal proteins. However, not all people eat animal protein (meat, eggs, milk) in sufficient quantities to get enough amino acid supplementation in their diet. Furthermore, these protein sources are often loaded with saturated fat. Incomplete proteins from fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains can be combined in the right way to get complete protein; however, vitamin B12 may still need to be supplemented.
One easy way to make sure you get enough amino acids in your diet is to take amino acid supplements. Talk with an integrative practitioner to make sure you are getting the right combination of amino acids. A couple of other tips:
• Vitamin B6 and C help with absorption of amino acids – take these vitamins with your supplements
• Taking amino acid supplements on an empty stomach can increase absorption
• L-Forms are recommended as they are more acceptable to the body. With L-forms, you get more complete absorption