What are Amino Acids?

Peptide Science – Part 1

 The discovery into Peptides starts with Amino Acids.

Amino acids are a major part of our biology.  Known as ” The Building Blocks of Life”  – its fairly simple to understand why, when our greatest functional potential in the body is created through protein. Surprisingly 20% of the human body is actually made up of protein and protein has a very important role. Much like some of the toys you may have seen your children play with at kindergarten, amino acids attach themselves to other amino acids in different variations and numbers to form compounds such as proteins, peptides and peptide hormones.

When proteins are digested or broken down, what is left are the amino acids.

Amino acids are essential to life because the proteins they form are involved in virtually all cell functions.

What are amino acids that the body needs?

Essential Amino Acids vs Non Essential Amino Acids

Within the human body there are 20 different amino acids we need. These amino acids join together to make different types of protein. Eight amino acids are considered “essential” amino acids. They are named this way because they are not made by the body and must be obtained through eating nutritious food and supplementing where necessary. There are 12 other amino acids. These amino acids are made by the body therefore are considered “nonessential” amino acids.

The 8 Essential Amino Acids:

  • L-Histidine – This amino acid needs to be in balance to ensure good mental and physical health. Histidine helps to maintain healthy tissue all over the body, assists in digestion and lets the immune system know when the body is experiencing an allergic reaction. Protects the body against radiation damage and also aids in the removal of heavy metals from the body. Histidine is also a critical component in the production of red and white blood cells. Because it is thought to be an amino acid that has the potential to run short, supplementation is often required. Histidine ensures the transmission of messages from your brain to the various organs in the body.

Good Histidine Food Sources: High-protein foods, meat, dairy products, rice, wheat, rye.

  • L-Isoleucine – Well known for its ability to heal and repair muscle tissue, Isoleucine also is an amino acid that encourages blood to clot at the site of injury. Serious athletes, bodybuilders and those into fitness find this a perfect amino acid for boosting energy levels, alongside helping with recovery after strenuous exercise. Regulates blood sugar.

Good Isoleucine Food Sources: high-protein foods, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, soy protein.

  • L-Leucine -In combination with other amino acids it helps to repair muscles, regulate ones blood sugar, alongside provide the body with energy. Leucine helps the body in its production of growth hormones and burn stubborn fat stores. May have some part in the prevention of  muscle loss, promotes the healing of bones, skin, and muscle tissue – in particular after a traumatic injury and post surgery. Assists the blood sugar regulation.

Good Leucine Food Sources: Brown rice, meat, nuts, soy flour, and beans.

  • L-Lysine -Known for its antiviral properties. It has been shown useful in the prevention of herpes outbreaks and cold sores. It is also an essential amino acid required for hormone production and in the growth and upkeep on bone health. Lysine prevents the body’s absorption of arginine. Lysine promotes the formation of collagen as well as muscle protein. It has the potential to speed up the repair and recovery from injury and surgery.

Good Lysine Food Sources: eggs, fish, cheese, potatoes, yeast, lima beans, milk, red meat, soy products.

  • L-Methionine – Fat-dissolving effect, reduces fat deposit onto the liver, assists with sulphur deficiencies, strengthens nails and combats hair loss. Methionine supports liver function with its regulation of glutathione. Methionine is needed to produce creatine which is essential for providing energy to our muscles in movement.  Helps to decrease the level of inflammatory histamines in the body.

Good Methionine Food Sources: beans, fish, soybeans, lentils, eggs, fish, garlic, meat, seeds

  • L-Phenylalanine – An essential amino acid, Phenylalanine is necessary to the functioning of the central nervous system. Helps control symptoms of depression and chronic pain. Has been shown effective for treating brain disorders because of its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. The body requires phenylalanine in order to produce neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Good Phenylalanine Food Sources: Soy, Pumpkin Seeds, Chicken, Turkey, Cooked Tuna, Eggs

  • L-Threonine Promotes normal growth by managing appropriate protein balance within the body. Threonine supports the liver, the immune system, cardiovascular, and the central nervous system. Threonine aids in keeping the connective tissues and muscles within the body strong. Threonine builds strong bones as well as tooth enamel. Has the potential to speed up healing of wounds and injury repairs.

Good Threonine Food Sources: Grains, mushrooms, leafy vegies, dairy foods.

  • L-Tryptophan Improves sleep quality. Tryptophan is needed to manufacture serotonin which in turn has mood enhancement properties and reduces symptoms of anxiety and stress. Has been known to help with hyperactivity, aggression and impulsivity.

Good Tryptophan Food Sources: Nuts, seeds, turkey, cheese, lamb, beef, tuna fish, oat bran

  • L-Valine – With a combined effort Valine works with isoleucine and leucine to regulate blood sugar, repair tissues and provide the body with energy.  Valine stimulates the central nervous system. It also helps prevent muscle breakdown by supplying additional glucose for fuel during intense activity.

Good Valine Food Sources: dairy products, meat, mushrooms, soy protein and nuts

What are Amino Acids - Molecular Structure

What are the 12 Nonessential Amino Acids?

  • Alanine
  • Asparagine
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Glutamic Acid

Conditional Amino Acids:

  • Cysteine
  • Glutamine
  • Glycine
  • Proline
  • Serine
  • Tyrosine

What are some of the functions of amino acids? 

Much of our cells, tissue and muscles are made up of amino acids. They support a large number of bodily functions. An example of a few of these roles may be:

  • Amino acids give cells their structure
  • Amino acids help in the transport and storage of nutrients within the body
  • Amino acids play a part in the functionality of organs, glands, and tendons.
  • Amino acids are necessary for wound repair, assisting the body in the patching up of damaged tissue., particularly in the muscles, bonds, hair and the skin. They also work in the waste and disposal of toxins.


Peptide Science – Part 2: What are Peptides

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