Amino Acids: Properties, Functions, Sources, and Deficiency Disorders

What Is an Amino Acid?

Amino Acids are organic compounds that combine with proteins to create proteins. They are also known as the building blocks of proteins. These biomolecules play a variety of biological and chemical roles in the human body, and they are essential ingredients for human growth and development. Nature contains approximately 300 amino acids.

Organic compounds that contain the basic amino groups (NH2) or carboxyl groups are called amino acids. Amino acids are the ingredients in proteins. Proteins and peptides are both long chains of amino acids. There are twenty amino acids that are involved in the creation of proteins.

Names and Chemical Formulas of Amino Acids

  • Alanine C3H7NO2
  • Leucine C6H13NO2
  • Aspartic Acid C4H7NO4
  • LysineC6H14N2O2
  • Asparagine C4H8N2O3
  • MethionineC5H11NO2S
  • Arginine C6H14N4O2
  • ProlineC5H9NO2
  • Cytosine C4H5N3O
  • Phenylalanine C9H11NO2
  • Cysteine C3H7NO2S
  • SerineC3H7NO3
  • Glycine C2H5NO2
  • Tyrosine C9H11NO3
  • Glutamine C5H10N2O3
  • Threonine C4H9NO3
  • Histidine C6H9N3O2
  • Tryptophan C11H12N2O2
  • Isoleucine C6H13NO2
  • Valine C5H11NO2

General Properties of Amino Acids

  • They have high melting and boiling points.
  • Amino acids are white, crystalline solid substances.
  • Few Amino acids taste sweet, bitter, or tasteless.
  • The majority of amino acids can be dissolved in water, but they are not soluble in organic solvents.

Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids

Our body can make a handful of amino acids out of the 20 that it has. These are known as non-essential amino acids. These include alanine and asparagine, as well as arginine and aspartic acid, as well as glutamic acid, glutamine, cysteine, glutamine, proline, glycine, and serine.

These nine amino acids are not the only ones that are essential. They are also very important because they are impossible to synthesize by the body. These are known as essential amino acids and include isoleucine and histidine, lysine and leucine, and phenylalanine. They also include tryptophan and methionine.

Chemical Properties

The basic structure of amino acids is H2NCH ROOH. There are 20 naturally occurring amino acid species. They all share common structural features: an amino group (-NH3+), carboxylate (–COO-), and hydrogen bonded to the carbon atom. The R group is the side chain that separates them. Each amino acid is composed of 4 groups that are attached to an a-carbon.

These are the 4 categories:

  • Amino group,
  • COOH,
  • Hydrogen atom,
  • Sidechain (R).

Structure of 20 Amino Acids

Many biological and chemical functions are performed by amino acids. They include building and repairing tissues, food digestion, enzyme function, and the transport of molecules. Only certain amino acids can be synthesized by the body. The rest, which is known as essential amino acids, should be obtained from protein-rich foods.

Plant-based foods such as broccoli, beans, and beetroots are rich in amino acids. They also include nuts, peas (carrots), cucumbers, green leafy vegetables, onions, soybeans whole grains, peanuts legumes, and lentils. Apples, bananas, and berries are rich in amino acids. Dairy products, eggs, and seafood are also available.

Essential Amino Acids Functions

  • Phenylalanine aids in maintaining a healthy nervous and memory system.
  • Valine is an important component of muscle growth.
  • Threonine is important in the function of the immune system.
  • Tryptophan plays a role in the production of vitamin B3 as well as serotonin hormones. This serotonin hormone is vital in maintaining our appetite, regulating our sleep, and improving our moods.
  • Isoleucine is vital in the formation and maintenance of hemoglobin. It stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin and transports oxygen from the lungs to various parts.
  • Methionine can be used to treat kidney stones, maintain healthy skin, and control the spread of pathogenic bacteria.
  • Leucine plays a role in the production of growth hormones and protein synthesis.
  • Lysine is essential for the production of hormones, enzymes, and antibodies as well as the development and fixing of calcium in bones.
  • Histidine plays an important role in many enzymatic processes, as well as in the synthesizing both red blood cells and white blood cells (erythrocytes).

Non-Essential Amino Acids Functions

  • Alanine’s function is to remove toxins from the body and produce glucose and other amino acids.
  • Cysteine is an antioxidant that protects our bodies. It is essential for the production of collagen. It has a negative effect on the texture and elasticity of the skin.
  • Glutamine is essential for the synthesis and maintenance of nucleic acid – DNA, and RNA. Glycine plays an important role in wound healing and cell growth. It is a neurotransmitter.
  • Glutamic acid is a neurotransmitter. It is involved in the development of the brain.
  • Arginine aids in the production of hormones and proteins, detoxification in kidneys, wound healing and maintaining a healthy immune response.
  • Tyrosine is vital in the production and use of thyroid hormones T3 and T4, as well as the creation of class neurotransmitters (and melanin), which are natural pigments found within our eyes, hair, skin, and eyes.
  • Serine aids in muscle growth and the synthesis of immune system proteins.
  • Asparagine plays a major role in transporting nitrogen into cells, the formation of purines, pyrimidine, and the development of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
  • Aspartic Acid plays an important role in metabolism and the promotion of the synthesis of other amino acids.
  • Proline plays a major role in the repair of tissues and the formation of collagen. It also prevents the hardening and thickening of the walls and arteries (arteriosclerosis) and aids in the regeneration and maintenance of new skin.

Deficiency In Amino Acids

Amino acids, which are the building blocks for proteins, play an important role in nearly all aspects of life. To maintain a healthy body and proper functioning, it is important to include all nine essential amino acids in your daily diet. Several pathologies can be caused by a deficiency in amino acids, such as:

  • Edema
  • Anemia
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Hypoglycemia
  • A loss of appetite
  • Fat deposits in the liver
  • Hair and skin problems
  • Fatigue, weakness, irritability, headaches.

Examples of Essential Amino Acids

It is impossible to synthesize essential amino acids and they must be obtained from the diet. These 9 essential amino acids include lysine (histidine), lysine (leucine), phenylalanine, tryptophan, methionine, threonine, and valine.

What Is the Purpose of Amphoteric Amino Acids?

Amino acids can have both basic and acidic properties. Amino acids are therefore amphoteric. The pH of the solution determines which form is predominant.

What Is Zwitterion?

Although amino acids are usually written with a carboxyl and an amino group, the actual structure of amino acids is ionic. The carboxyl group loses a proton and donates a carboxylate. The ammonium ion is protonated to the amino group. This structure is known as a dipolar ion or zwitterion.

Transport Proteins and Their Function

The transport protein is Haemoglobin. It plays a role in oxygen transport to cells.

Sulphur-Containing Amino Acids

Cysteine and methionine are both sulfur-containing amino acids.

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