Amino acids are tiny building blocks in the body. They stick together to form tissues, cells and organs. Your body even uses amino acids for digestion, growth, hormone production, brain signaling and other everyday biological processes. Since amino acids are essential for basic life functions, you need an array of them in your daily diet. Both milk and eggs are rich sources of amino acids, giving you healthy doses of each one.
Essential Amino Acids
Foods from animal sources, including milk and eggs, are known as complete proteins and have adequate levels of all of the essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids include lysine, methionine, leucine, histidine, isoleucine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and phenylalanine. These amino acids are essential or necessary because they have to come from the foods in your daily diet. The body can’t make these amino acids, which isn’t the case for all types of amino acids.
Nonessential Amino Acids
Milk and eggs each contain nonessential amino acids too. These amino acids include glutamic acid, aspartic acid, alanine and asparagine. It isn’t necessary to get these amino acids in your daily diet, although it isn’t going to hurt you either. Your body has the ability to make nonessential amino acids as needed, so you should always have enough to keep your body running properly.
Conditional Amino Acids
Several amino acids fall into the conditional category. While they are typically nonessential nutrients, your body needs more of them when you’re very sick or recovering from an injury. Arginine, ornithine, proline, glutamine, serine, tyrosine, glycine and cysteine are all conditional amino acids. You’ll get these amino acids from milk and eggs as well.
Rather than keeping tabs on how much of each amino acid you're getting, focus on your total protein intake. Amino acids fall into the overall protein recommendation, where protein should make up 10 to 35 percent of the calories in the diet, states the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Protein is a macronutrient with 4 calories per gram, and to meet the recommendation, you’ll need 50 to 175 grams of protein daily for a 2,000-calorie diet. Including milk and eggs in your diet can easily help you meet your protein needs. You’ll get around 8.5 grams of total protein -- including all the essential amino acids -- from an 8-ounce glass of reduced-fat milk. A large whole egg has nearly 6.5 grams of overall protein.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- MedlinePlus: Amino Acids
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Milk, Reduced Fat, Fluid, 2% Milkfat, with Added Nonfat Milk Solids and Vitamin A and Vitamin D