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Essential Amino Acids – An Overview

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The significance of increased protein intake for muscle growth is a familiar concept among fitness enthusiasts. This discussion will primarily focus on the functions, advantages, and significance of essential amino acids. As this craze is increasing, it is important to know how exactly a high protein intake helps us achieve the best goals in the gym and daily functions. At the core of protein structure lie amino acids. These are the organic compounds composed of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen.

Amino acids comprises of amine and carboxyl functional groups along with unique side chains. These are broadly categorized into essential and non-essential types. The human body requires a total of 20 amino acids to function optimally, contributing significantly to protein synthesis, neurotransmissions, and hormonal processes.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN ESSENTIAL AND NON-ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

The categorization of amino acids into essential and non-essential is based on the body’s capacity to synthesize them.

UNDERSTANDING ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

Essential amino acids encompass nine out of the total 20 amino acids that are required from the external sources such as food and supplements. These amino acids play vital roles in muscle building and repair, immune regulation, and serve as precursors for neurotransmitter formation.

Conversely, eleven amino acids are classified as non-essential, as the body can produce them internally. These amino acids contribute to toxin elimination, brain function regulation, synthesis of blood cells, tissue growth support, hormone balance, and energy provision.

VARIETIES OF ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS AND THEIR BENEFITS

There are nine amino acids essential for various bodily functions:

Valine:

A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) contributing to protein synthesis, energy production, and muscle growth and repair.

Leucine:

Another BCAA essential for muscle development, wound healing, hormone regulation, and blood sugar control.

ISO Leucine:

Essential for muscle metabolism, hemoglobin production, energy generation (ATP), and immunological functions.

Lysine:

Supports hormone, enzyme, and collagen production, protein synthesis, calcium absorption, and immune functions.

Methionine:

Critical for metabolism, detoxification processes, tissue development, and absorption of essential minerals.

Phenylalanine:

Converts into neurotransmitters, aiding in protein synthesis, enzyme functioning, and amino acid synthesis.

Threonine:

Integral to protein structures like collagen and elastin, influencing immunological performance and fat metabolism.

Histidine:

Utilized in histamine production, essential for immune response, digestion, sleep cycles, and myelin sheath preservation.

Tryptophan:

Precursor to serotonin, regulating mood, appetite, and sleep.

Also Read: 7 NUTRITION TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRANSFORMATION

DIETARY SOURCES

To meet the recommended protein intake for optimal health, consider incorporating the following foods into your diet:

Animal Sources:

Poultry, meat, and eggs are excellent excellent natural sources.

Plant Sources:

Incorporate soy products, quinoa, edamame, hemp seeds, tofu, brown or white rice, and peas to boost your total amino acid intake.

SUPPLEMENTS

Consider popular supplements like whey protein or BCAAs to meet essential amino acid intake and enhance muscle growth. It’s crucial to follow recommended dosages and opt for high-quality products with positive reviews.

IN SUMMARY

Essential amino acids play a fundamental role in various bodily functions beyond muscle growth and repair. Shortages in these critical amino acids can impact neurological, reproductive, immunological, and digestive systems. Ensuring a well-balanced diet rich in essential amino acids is imperative for optimal health.

Fariha Batool
Fariha Batoolhttps://sportsmen.pk
Dr. Fariha Batool is a certified dietitian with 3 years of experience. Her mission is to re-shape the nutritional habits and behaviors of our next generation to optimize their long-term health and reduce the likelihood of obesity, cancer and chronic diseases.

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