I've Been Too Embarrassed Too Ask... But What Exactly Are Amino Acids

I've Been Too Embarrassed Too Ask... But What Exactly Are Amino Acids


Amino acids aren’t important- they’re essential. The 20 different varieties of amino acids are known as the building blocks of proteins. Proteins do a lot from breaking down toxins to making and repairing our cells. Protein also ensures our cells maintain the proper ph and fluid balance. Just like protein intake is not only about weight loss and muscle growth; amino acids, are not taken merely to improve athletic performance!

We need all nine essential amino acids to be healthy and thrive!

Here is everything you need to know and why they’re on the label of just about every fitness supplement package. 

There are 20-22 different amino acids and they all have different effects on our bodies. Nine of these are essential, meaning we have to get them through our diet. 

The Nine Essential Amino Acids are:

  • Histidine - Growth, tissue repair, and protecting nerve cells

  • Isoleucine - Wound healing, hormone secretion, immune function, and detoxification

  • Leucine - Balances the loss/discard of old cells with the creation of new cells. It helps your muscles recover

  • Lysine - Creates carnitine, which gives you a metabolic energy boost

  • Methionine - The growth of new blood vessels and acts as a substrate (helps with the production) of other amino acids. 

  • Phenylalanine - Presumed to act as an antidepressant because from phenylalanine another amino acid, Tyrosine is formed. Your body uses enzymes to turn Tyrosine into dopamine. And dopamine is crucial for several reasons. Healthline.com reports, dopamine is involved in reward, motivation, memory, attention and even regulating body movements [..] When dopamine is released in large amounts, it creates feelings of pleasure and reward, which motivates you to repeat a specific behavior.”

  • Threonine - A substrate for glycine and serine production. Glycine and serine are crucial for healthy muscle tissue ( for example your heart) collagen and elastin production. 

  • Tryptophan - Needed for maintenance/ production of proteins, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.  

  • Valine - Energy, and Cholesterol production. 

Not Enough Protein or Not Enough Amino Acids?

Most Americans eat too much protein says some studies, while others say Americans don’t get enough...

What if it is not protein your bodies are lacking in, but amino acids?

A complete protein contains the nine essential amino acids, that the body cannot make on its own, in equal parts. If you follow a specialized diet, you’re at risk of missing some of the nine essential amino acids that your body needs. 

Individuals that follow a plant-based diet can run into this problem because most plant proteins are not complete proteins. You may meet or exceed the recommended daily 50-60 grams of protein, but not your essential amino acid intake. 

Vary your protein sources to ensure you get all the nine essential amino acids. 

Do you need to get all nine amino acids at each meal?

No! Your body keeps a store, as long as you are meeting your daily intake you don’t need it at every meal. 

Medical News Today says this about getting all nine amino acids in a day, “The body does not need all the essential amino acids at each meal, because it can use amino acids from recent meals to form complete proteins.”

What To Eat To Get All Your Amino Acids! 

If you follow a plant-based diet, you can eat any of these complete proteins, to keep your body feeling at its best: Amaranth, Tempeh, Chia Seeds, Quinoa, Soy, Buckwheat, Hemp, Spirulina, and Chia Seeds.