Amino acids are the building blocks of all our structural and functional body systems. The body requires 22 amino acids to survive, 9 of them being essential, meaning our body does not manufacture them and they must be obtained from dietary sources in order to be healthy and take advantage of all the amino acid benefits.
If any one amino acid is deficient the overall result will be poor health because amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are of course important to prevent protein deficiency symptoms. They are very important for muscle building but the actual range of amino acids benefits go much further than simply supporting and building muscles.
Following is a list of these 22 amino acids and their benefits:
- Acetyl L-Cartinine – metabolism of food into energy; improves mental function, particularly age related dementias like Alzheimer’s disease; possible usefulness in strokes, Down’s Syndrome and some neuropathies; anti-aging properties; sperm motility.
- Arginine — improved immune responses to bacteria, viruses and tumor cells; promotes healing of wounds; regeneration of liver; release of growth hormones.
- Alanine – source of energy for the brain, muscle tissue and central nervous system; metabolism of sugars and stabilizing blood glucose levels.
- Aspartic Acid – expelling harmful ammonia from the body; possible usefulness in opiate withdrawal.
- Carnitine – gives energy boost; clearing bloodstream of ammonia; useful in angina, ADHD, congestive heart failure and heart attacks; prevent muscle atrophy; low energy and weight gain associated with low thyroid function.
- Carnosine – powerful antioxidant; protects against radiation damage; improved heart function; promotes healing of injuries; acts as a neurotransmitter in the nervous system; controls enzyme activity.
- Cysteine – powerful antioxidant and immune system boost; recovery from burns and surgical scarring; slow down aging process.
- DLPA –DL phenylalanine – converted in the body to Tyrosine; also acts as a pain killer.
- GABA – Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid—decreased levels may cause seizures and other neurological disorders; natural calming and anti-epileptic agent for the brain.
- Glucosamine – treating osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.
- Glutamic Acid – improve brain function; healing ulcers; battling fatigue; helps control cravings for alcohol and sugar.
- Glutathione – powerful antioxidant; possible anti-cancer properties.
- Glycine – maintenance of central nervous system; healthy prostate function; triggers oxygen release.
- Hisitidine – useful for rheumatoid arthritis.
- L-Phenylalanine –see DLPA
- Lysine – helps the body absorb and conserve calcium; used by doctors to treat genital herpes and the herpes simplex virus which is responsible for cold sores as well.
- N-Acetyl Cysteine – helps break down mucus making it useful in treating chronic bronchitis; antioxidant activity which helps protect lung tissue; protects the liver from exposure to some toxic chemicals and is used in hospitals for people suffering from acetaminophen poisoning; may reduce risk of colon cancer;
- Ornithine – induces release of growth hormones; fat metabolism; proper liver function and immune system; useful in healing and repairing skin tissue;
- Proline – improves skin texture; functioning of joints and tendons; maintains and strengthens heart muscles.
- Serine – metabolism of fats and fatty acids; muscle growth; healthy immune system.
- Taurine – helps stabilize cell membranes in the brain and heart; improved cardiac and respiratory function post congestive heart failure.
- Tyrosine – used by the thyroid gland to produce the hormone thyroxin; known as the anti-depressant amino acid as it controls and builds the hormones dopamine and norepinephrine; suppresses appetite.
This list is by no means a complete one as many of these amino acids are subject to ongoing studies to really understand the various amino acids benefits. A proper healthy diet should provide you with all the nutrients your body requires, however if you feel you are lacking in any of the amino acids, you should consult your doctor to discuss the possibility of supplementing. Some people also enjoy the benefits of amino acids in the form of supplements because they are proteins and this is very important for those who seek to increase their muscle mass (as you probably heard elsewhere).