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The 9 Essential Amino Acids and the Functions They Perform in the Body
Amino acids are organic compounds that combine to become the building blocks of protein. Twenty percent of the human body is comprised of protein, and it plays a crucial role in almost every biological function our bodies perform.
Amino acids combine to create many of the structures in the body, including the cells, muscle, and tissue. They also play an important role in the transportation of nutrients throughout the body, wound healing, and filtering out waste created by the metabolism.
There are 20 different amino acids that the body uses to function, but only 11 of those can be produced by the body. The other 9 must be consumed through our diets. These 9 proteins are known as essential amino acids. Most foods contain some form of amino acids that we need, but some are more complete than others.
While it is entirely possible to get all the amino acids needed from a plant-based diet (our Vegan Protein has all 9), meat and dairy products generally contain a more complete profile. Whey protein, in particular, not only has all 9 essential amino acids, it has the other 11 your body already produces. This makes whey a complete, robust source of protein!
Here are the 9 essential amino acids and the functions there are responsible for:
Histidine- Aids in tissue growth and repair, red blood cell production, and protects tissues from oxidative damage, radiation, and heavy metals. It’s also critical to the formation of myelin sheaths that protect the nerves and enable transmission of signals to the brain.
Leucine- A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) essential to protein synthesis and a diverse range of metabolic functions, including regulating blood sugar levels, promoting recovery and growth of muscle and bone tissue, and the production of growth hormone.
Valine- One of three BCAAs that works with leucine and isoleucine to promote normal growth, repair tissues, and supply the body with energy. Valine also helps stimulate the nervous system and is essential for normal cognitive function.
Isoleucene- The third BCAA, this protein plays a key role in hemoglobin synthesis, regulation of blood sugars, and energy levels. It also helps the body recover from strenuous physical activity.
Phenylananine- This amino acid is a precursor to L-tyrosine, which is responsible for the create of chemicals that regulate brain and adrenal function. Without it, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine could ultimately not be formed.
Methionine- This unique amino acid is the only essential amino acid that has the ability to be converted into important sulfur-containing molecules. Sulfur-containing molecules have diverse functions, including the protection of tissues, DNA modification, and maintaining proper cell function.
Lysine- Plays an important role in building immunity to fight diseases, regulation of appetite, and aids with digestion. It also helps the body absorb calcium, build muscle protein, and the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies.
Threonine- Plays an important role in supporting functions of the cardiovascular, liver, immune system, and central nervous systems. It is a key constituent of neurotransmitters and is necessary for the formation of glycine and serine.
Tryptophan- The body uses this amino acid to help make niacin, melatonin, and serotonin. It is important for mood regulation, healthy sleep, and proper brain function.
Since the body can’t produce these amino acids on its own, it’s important to get the correct amount through food sources. Supplementing with our Grass-Fed Whey Protein or Vegan Protein is a great option for people that want a simple, fail-proof way of getting all amino acids they need to function at their best from one food source!
Other foods that offer a complete amino acid profile include meats, cheese, dairy, buckwheat, hemp seed, quinoa, and spirulina. Eating a balanced diet rich in essential amino acids is an aspect of maintaining health that’s often overlooked, but important.
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