Amino Acids: Definition, Roles, Food, Supplementation

You will find in this Youtube video and in this health and wellness blog post :

- The definition of amino acids

- The chemical formula of amino acids

- The function of amino acids in proteins

- What are the 20 amino acids?

- What are the 8 essential amino acids?

- Non-essential amino acids

- Food sources of amino acids

- Amino acids in food supplements

- Recommendations and advice on amino acid supplementation

The definition of amino acids, chemical formula

Amino acids are molecules that share a particular chemical structure. They are composed of atoms of carbon (C), hydrogen (H), oxygen (O) and nitrogen (N). They are called acid, because they have the COOH group (carboxylic acid) and amino because they have an amino group (NH2) in their chemical formula.

The function of amino acids in proteins

The linkage of several amino acids allows the formation of proteins. These links are called peptide links.

Each amino acid present in the composition of the protein contributes to give it specific functions.

Furthermore, the order in which the amino acids are assembled to form the protein also plays an important role in the functionality of the protein.

Amino acids can also be involved in the production of carbohydrates, hormones, neurotransmitters, enzymes or lipids.

What are the 20 amino acids of proteins?

The 20 amino acids of proteins are: leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, histidine, alanine, glutamic acid or glutamate, aspartic acid or aspartate, arginine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, proline, tyrosine and serine.

These amino acids allow us to produce all the proteins necessary for the proper functioning of our body.

What are the 8 essential amino acids?

Some amino acids are called essential or indispensable, because they cannot be produced by our body or are produced in insufficient quantities, so we must provide them through our diet.

There are 8 of them: leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and histidine in infants.

Non-essential amino acids

Non-essential amino acids are produced within our body from essential amino acids, they are valine, alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, proline, serine, tyrosine.

Some amino acids are lipophilic like glycine and alanine. These are more attracted to fatty substances.

Others are hydrophilic (aspartic acid, glutamic acid, arginine, asparagine, glutamine, histidine, lysine, serine, threonine), they are mostly present in aqueous substances (which contains water).

There are amino acids that contain atoms other than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen, such as methionine and cysteine which have a sulfur atom (S).

Food sources of amino acids

Amino acids are present in plant products (vegetables and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, ...), but especially in animal products (egg, fish, meat, poultry, ...).

Amino acids in food supplements, recommendations and advice on amino acid supplementation

Amino acids branched (L-leucine, L-isoleucine, L-valine) are called so because of their particular chemical structure.

They are often used by athletes to increase their physical capacity and muscle mass.

However, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that their effectiveness has not been proven in increasing mass and performance in athletes.

These amino acids can also be recommended to limit a metabolic disease or to promote protein production in order to accelerate healing after a trauma or an injury.

It is important to know that pregnant or breastfeeding women and people who suffer from metabolic diseases should not take these amino acids as food supplements outside their usual diet.

It is preferable to prefer foods naturally rich in protein such as meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, ... to fill up on amino acids,

Indeed, these foods allow a better absorption of proteins, they also have other elements such as vitamins of the B group which optimizes their absorption and improves their functionality.

Finally, it is very important to know that the consumption of amino acids over the long term can promote the deterioration of the kidneys.

Dr Noura Marrai (Doctor of Pharmacy, YouTuber Health, creator of the health well-being Pharmaquiz application),

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