Amino Acids: How They Work For Our Body


Our organism doesn’t use proteins in a direct way; first proteins are decomposed (hydrolyzed) into amino acids and amino acid groups (peptides) and only after this these ‘construction bricks’ are used for restoration/synthesis of muscular proteins.

Amino acids are construction blocks that our muscle fibers are made of. Our organism uses them for its own growth, recovery, strengthening, and production of different hormones, antibodies, and ferments.

The majority of amino acids are synthesized in bodies of humans and animals from regular anitrogenous metabolism products and assimilated nitrogen – these are so-called ‘non essential’ amino acids.

Non essential amino acids are the following ones: alanine, arginine, asparagine, asparaginic acid, glycine (glycocol), glutamine, glutamic acid, praline, serine, tyrosine, cysteine (cystine), citrulline, gamma-aminobutyric acid, ornithine and taurine.

Partially replaceable amino acids are the following ones: arginine and histidine. They differ from other amino acids by the fact that our organism can use them for protein production instead of methionine and phenylalanine reciprocally.

There are also amino acids that are not synthesized in our bodies but are required for normal state of our vital functions: these are so-called ‘essential’ amino acids.

Essential amino acids are the following ones: valine, leucine, isoleucine, threonine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and lysine. We must receive them with our food regularly.

Protein synthesis goes on in our organism uninterruptedly. If at least one irreplaceable amino acid is absent, our organism stops protein production. Absence or shortage of irreplaceable amino acids leads to cessation of growth, decrease of body weight and metabolism violations.

Free form amino acids are such amino acids that are most often sold in sports shops. These are amino acids that had been already digested or decomposed in an artificial way. Still, in spite of assuarances of some experts, taking of free form amino acids is not the best variant of receiving protein necessary for construction of new muscular tissues and maintaining our body in healthy conditions.

In some situations, however (for example, to achieve so-called ‘special effects’), these amino acids can be very helpful. For example, such amino acids as tryptophan and tyrosine influence neurotransmitters directly; taking such free form amino acids as glutamine and arginine assists increased production of growth hormone.

It’s necessary to understand that there are three main types of amino acid supplements: BCAA, amino acid complexes and separate amino acids.


This abbreviation stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids (isoleucine, leucine, and valine). These amino acids are irreplaceable ones and appear to be the most important muscle protein component because they prevent muscular tissue destruction caused by hard training. BCAA can also be used by our muscles as an energy source though such usage is extremely unreasonable; that’s why it’s necessary to take them together with a considerable amount of simple carbohydrates

Amino acid complexes

These are products that contain a complete balanced set of amino acids for construction of muscular protein molecules. Such complexes include both replaceable and irreplaceable amino acids in different proportions.

Separate amino acids

They are not widespread enough due to their narrower specialization. Each particular amino acid possesses a certain set of qualities; and later we’ll discuss some of them.

Essential amino acids

Leucine (BCAA): can be found in all food products containing full-fledged protein: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. It’s necessary not only for protein synthesis but also for strengthening our immune system.

Isoleucine (BCAA): can be found in all products containing full-fledged protein: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Valine (BCAA): is one of the most important components for growth and body tissue synthesis. The major sources of valine are animal products. Experiments on test rats showed that valine increased muscular coordination and reduced pain, cold, and heat sensitivity.

Histidine: assists the processes of growth and tissue restoration. It can be found in large quantities in hemoglobin and is used in treatment of rheumatoid arthritises, allergies, ulcers, and anemia. Histidine shortage can cause diminished hearing.

Lysine: can be found in cheese and fish. Lysine is one of the important components for carnitine synthesis; it provides the required assimilation of calcium and is helpful in herpes treatment. Lysine shortage may result in quick tiredness, lack of concentration, irritability, damages of eye vessels, hair loss, anemia, and reproductive problems.

Methionine: can be found in grains, nuts, and cereals. It’s an important component for the metabolism of fats and proteins; our organism also uses this amino acid for cysteine production. Methionine appears to be the main source of sulfur that prevents disorders of formation of hair, skin, and nails; it reduces the workload of our bladder, influences hair bulbs, and supports hair growth.

Threonine: is an important component for the synthesis of purines that, in their turn, are responsible for the decomposition of urea – a protein synthesis by-product. Threonine is also an important component of collagen, elastin, and enamel protein; it takes part in fighting against the accumulation of fat in liver, supports even work of the digestive and intestinal tracts, and takes part in metabolism and assimilation processes.

Tryptophan: is a component of niacin (vitamin B) and serotonin that takes part in brain processes regulates our appetite, dream, mood, and pain limit. Tryptophan is a natural relaxant; it helps to fight against insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Phenylalanine: our organism needs it for the production of tyrosine and three main hormones: epinephrine, nоrepinephrine, and thyroxin. Phenylalanine is used by our brain for the production of nоrepinephrine – the substance that transmits signals from nerve cells to our brain; it keeps us in a wakeful state and grants us the possibility to perceive the outer world; it also decreases hunger sensation, acts as an antidepressant, and improves memory work.

Semi essential amino acids

Tyrosine: is used by our organism instead of phenylalanine for protein synthesis. The main sources are milk, meat, and fish. Our brain is using tyrosine for the production of nоrepinephrine that raises our mental tone. Promising experiment results showed the possibility to use tyrosine as a means to fight fatigue and stresses.

Cystine (cysteine). If our ratio includes enough cystine our organism can use it instead of methionine for protein production. This amino acid can be found in meat, fish, soya, oats, and wheat. Cystine is also used in the food industry as an antioxidant for the preservation of vitamin C in ready-made products.

Non essential amino acids

Alanine: is an important energy source for muscle tissues, brain, and the central nervous system. It strengthens our immune system by means of the production of antibodies and actively participates in the metabolism of sugars and organic acids.

Arginine: causes a slowdown of tumors and cancer lumps; it purifies our liver, assists growth hormone secretion, strengthening the immune system, assists sperm production, and is helpful in the treatment of kidney disorders and injuries. Arginine is necessary for protein synthesis and optimal growth. The presence of A-arginine in our organism assists muscle mass growth and fat deposition reduction; it’s also useful in cases of liver disorders such as liver cirrhosis. It’s not recommended to be used by pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Asparagine: takes an active part in ammonia excretion that is harmful to the central nervous system. Recent researches showed that aspartic acid can increase fatigue resistibility.

Glutamine: is important for normalization of the sugar level, an increase of brain efficiency, and formation of a healthy digestion tract; it’s used in the treatment of impotence, alcoholism, stomach ulcer; it helps to fight against fatigue and brain disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, and lethargy. Glutamine shouldn’t be mistaken for glutamine acid: these preparations have different effects. Glutamine acid is considered natural ‘fuel’ for our brain; it improves intellectual faculties, assists in speeding-up of ulcer therapy, and increases fatigue resistibility.

Glycine: actively participates in the provision of the process of formation of new cells with oxygen. It is an important component of the production of hormones responsible for our immune system strengthening.

Carnitine: assists the binding and excretion of long fat amino acid chains. Our liver and kidneys produce carnitine from the other two amino acids: glutamine and methionine. Carnitine can be found in meat and dairy products and we distinguish several carnitine types:

D-carnitine is dangerous due to the fact that it reduces the independent production of carnitine by our organism;

Preparations of L-carnitine are considered less dangerous: by reducing the growth of fat deposits this acid allows us to control weight gaining and therefore to prevent the risk of heart diseases.

Our organism produces carnitine only in case of enough quantity of iron, lysine, and enzymes B19 and B69. Vegetarians are more sensitive to carnitine deficit because their ration contains much less lysine. Carnitine also increases the efficiency of antioxidants – vitamins C and E. It’s considered that the required daily amount of carnitine for the best fat utilization amounts to 1500 milligrams.

Ornithine: assists production of growth hormone that, together with L-arginine and L-carnitine, assists secondary usage of excess fat in metabolism. It’s necessary for the work of our liver and immune system.

Proline: is especially important for the correct functioning of ligaments and joints. It also takes part in the maintenance of working efficiency and strengthening of cardiac muscle.

Serine: takes part in the accumulation of glycogen by our liver and muscles; takes an active part in strengthening the immune system and providing it with antibodies; forms fatty ‘covers’ around nerve fibers.

Taurine: this semi-essential amino acid stabilizes membrane excitability what is very important for epileptic attack control. Taurine and sulfur are considered necessary substances for control over numerous biochemical reactions occurring during aging. It also takes part in the process of purification of our organism from free radical pollution.

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