Amino acid supplements are used to enhance protein intake in the body and to assist in recovery of muscle tissue after exercise. Supplementation allows for amounts not taken in by food. An article on the Bodybuilding.com website explains, “amino acids produce enzymes that can improve muscular recovery and construction, mood, concentration and sleep.” However, it is best to consult a doctor before using amino acid supplements.
“Amino acids build cells, repair tissues, produce enzymes and play a key role in mental health," reports the Nutritional Supplement Health Guide website. According to an article published by the University of Arizona, “humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied by food.” The university’s article further explains, “insufficient amounts of even one of the 10 essential amino acids not produced by the body result in degradation of muscle to obtain the one amino acid that is needed.”
Essential Amino Acids
Essential amino acids must be obtained on a daily basis through the foods we eat. “The essential amino acids include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine," reports an article from The Peptide Guide website. Benefits from these essential acids include regulation of blood sugar, energy, improvement of memory, stress alleviation and muscle building.
Non-Essential Amino Acids
According to an article published on the University of Arizona's website, "Nonessential amino acids are produced in the liver through a process known as transamination." Though nonessential, these amino acids are not unimportant. Nonessential amino acids form from compounds that are present in the body at a rate that meets the needs of normal growth and tissue repair. A few benefits include immune system function, weight control and digestion of fats.
A December 2005 article in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that most amino acid supplements are safe in recommended dosages, but may interfere with protein metabolism if consumed in excess. According to a report in the American Journal of Nutrition, excessive intakes of free amino acid may have adverse metabolic effects, such as decreases in protein synthesis. However, there are very few data to either confirm or deny this position.
The body obtains amino acids from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products and legumes. A balanced diet with adequate protein provides enough amino acids even for intense exercisers. Supplementation may not be needed if sufficient amounts of dietary macronutrients are consumed. Discuss dietary intake with your physician to determine if supplementation is necessary.
- Bodybuilding: Amino Acids Info and Products
- Nutritional Supplements Health Guide: Amino Acid Basics You Need to Know
- University of Arizona: The Chemistry of Amino Acids
- PeptideGuide: Amino Acids
- Journal of Nutrition: Assessment of the Safety of Glutamine and Other Amino Acids; Peter Garlick; 2001
- Journal of Nutrition: An Approach to Defining the Upper Safe Limits of Amino Acid Intake; Paul B. Pencharz, et al.; 2008