Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are essential for the female body. While most of the 21 amino acids are produced by the body, nine so-called essential amino acids can only be obtained through diet. We all need amino acids for survival, but the specific nutritional needs of women make amino acid supplementation even more important. Amino acids keep you primed for high-level athletic performance as well as day-to-day functioning -- and that means you should not ignore them on your quest for optimum health.
Branched-chain amino acids -- more commonly known as BCAAs -- trigger muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown. All proteins contain BCAAs, but you may prefer a specific BCAA supplement to increase your dietary intake. Dr. Caroline Cederquist, an expert in nutrition and weight loss, cautions that women rarely eat enough protein to support healthy metabolism and muscle maintenance -- and women who chronically diet may live in an even bigger deficit. Without protein and other sources of adequate BCAA intake, you may struggle with fat loss -- especially around the abdominal area, where it correlates most with chronic disease.
Carnitine supports energy metabolism and reduces muscle fatigue and damage, although it is best known for its fat-burning properties. The National Institutes of Health states that carnitine shuttles fatty acids into cell mitochondria to be burned for energy -- and the more fat that is burned for energy, the more weight you may lose. The Waller Wellness Center recommends carnitine for post-menopausal women especially to counteract natural weight gain. On a hormonal level, carnitine can also increase testosterone levels in women. Because testosterone mitigates muscular fatigue and damage, higher secretion enables you to work out harder and longer. Carnitine's role in testosterone production may also contribute to its fat-burning abilities.
Arginine regulates nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide helps improve blood flow to the muscles by expanding blood vessels. According to the Waller Wellness Center, arginine's relationship with nitric oxide and vasodilation makes it an important supplement for women experiencing the symptoms of menopause. Arginine may decrease the intensity and frequency of hot flashes by improving blood circulation. Female athletes may also prefer pre-workout supplements that contain arginine as it effectively increases muscular strength during resistance exercise -- and you'll also enjoy the famous "pump" provided by arginine.
Lysine serves as the building block for various tissues in the body. Scientific conclusions in a 1992 issue of Nutrition support a strong relationship between lysine and calcium. Lysine increases calcium absorption in the teeth and bones, an important factor for women who remain at a higher risk of osteoporosis. Lysine may also prevent outbreaks of genital herpes and cold sores for women who have a herpes simplex virus. If you are an athlete, you place a lot of extra stress on your tendons and joints -- and lysine may be the key to a long career. An essential amino acid, lysine aids in the creation of both muscle fibers and collagen and can help keep your knees and other connective tissues working smoothly.