Amino Acid 101: Food, Supplement Sources, and Benefits

You may have heard that amino acids are crucial for your health but do not know what they do. Well, to put it simply, they’re protein building blocks that play many important roles in your body. For example, they’re vital for the synthesis of proteins, hormones, and neurotransmitters. The good news is you can get your needed supply of amino acids by eating protein-rich foods like meat, fish, and soybeans.

The even better news is, in case you don’t consume enough of these, you can still boost your intake with supplements such as pure blend protein high in amino acids that are tasty and easy to use. Certain amino acids are also taken as supplements as a natural way to improve athletic performance or mood.

What Are Essential Amino Acids?

components of essential amino acids

As organic compounds, amino acids they’re made up of elements like oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen. Your body needs 20 different amino acids to be able to function properly. While all 20 of these are beneficial to your health, there are only nine that are considered essential amino acids.

Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine are among them. Although your body can produce non-essential amino acids, it cannot produce essential amino acids, so you must obtain them through diet.

Amino Acid Sources

As mentioned, animal proteins such as seafood, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy are the best sources of essential amino acids. However, some plant foods, such as edamame and tofu made from soy can be just as good considering they contain all nine of the essential amino acids. This means they are “complete” protein sources. Other plant-based protein sources, such as beans, nuts, and some grains, are classified as incomplete proteins because they lack one or more essential amino acids.

When you eat protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids, which it then uses for a variety of processes, including muscle building and immune function regulation. As a result, a lack of essential amino acids can have a negative impact on your entire body, including your nervous, reproductive, immune, and digestive systems.

Although most people get all of the amino acids they require from their balanced diet, there are some who need a little care and boost in the form of a blend protein powder supplement added to meals and smoothies. Such is the case with individuals who follow a plant-based diet, and those who need more protein due to their highly active lifestyle, like athletes, bodybuilders and cross-fitters.

If you start with a more active lifestyle, it’s advisable to consult your doctor or a dietician to be sure your body is getting the right dose of protein to boost performance and results, and guarantee optimal health.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Amino Acid Protein Supplements?

an old woman reading amino acid's label

While essential amino acids can be found in a variety of foods, taking concentrated doses through a supplement has been linked to a number of health benefits.

Mood Lifting

Tryptophan is required for the production of serotonin, a chemical that acts as a neurotransmitter. It’s known for its role in the regulation of mood, sleep, and behaviour. While low serotonin levels have been linked to depression and sleep problems, several studies have found that taking tryptophan supplements may help reduce depression symptoms and boost mood.

According to a review of 11 high-quality studies, taking 0.14-3 grammes of tryptophan per day can help reduce anxiety and increase positive mood in healthy people.

Improved Physical Performance and Recovery

Pure blend protein powders are recommended by dietitians and fitness experts for bodybuilders and people who are physically active. They are considered high-quality proteins because they contain all of the proteins and branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) that your body cannot produce on its own. In fact, valine, leucine, and isoleucine, the three essential BCAAs, are found to help with fatigue, athletic performance, and muscle recovery after exercise.

In a small study in 2017, a group of resistance-trained athletes took BCAAs at a dose of 0.039 grammes per pound (0.087 grammes per kg) of body weight, with a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The results showed they had better performance, faster muscle recovery, and less muscle soreness than those who took a placebo.

Furthermore, another study found that taking protein powders and BCAAs helped reduce muscle damage and soreness after resistance exercise in active men.

Beneficial for Wound Healing Post-Surgery

Taking amino acid supplements may be beneficial for people recovering from surgery. Scientists conducted a study with people with different fractures, and treated them with standard nutrition and amino acid supplementation after surgery. Out of the two, the group that had the supplements treatment had a lesser chance for medical complications than those with the standard nutrition.