Amino acids are used in every cell of your body and are used to build strands of protein. Most of the bio-chemical reactions in your body use protein, making amino acids, a vital building block for good health. So far scientists have discovered over fifty amino acids. However, only twenty amino acids are needed to build the various proteins used in the growth, repair and maintenance of body tissues.
Nine of the amino acids (called essential amino acids) must come from the diet, whilst the other eleven can be synthesized by an adult body.
The essential amino acids are leucine, histidine, methionine, lysine, isoleucine, valine, threonine, tryptophan and phenylalanine. The nonessential amino acids are proline, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, alanine, asparagine, serine and tyrosine.
Thousands of combinations of the twenty amino acids are used to make all of the proteins in your body.
What do Amino Acids do?
The use of an amino acid when it is broken down by the liver depends on the body’s needs at that moment. Some amino acids enter the blood stream, where they join amino acids that have been freed up by the constant breakdown of body tissue. Other amino acids are used by the liver to synthesize specialized proteins.
Every cell in the body has its requirements as laid out in its DNA blueprint. As the amino acids move through the body each cell draws from the common pool of available amino acids as per its requirements and functions.
In order for this protein synthesis to occur, an adequate supply of both essential and non-essential amino acids is vital. If one of the essential amino acids is missing then synthesis is halted. These partially assembled proteins are disassembled and the amino acids returned to the blood. Unfortunately any amino acids that are not used within a short period cannot be stored for future use.
Immediately after exercise, when the muscle is receptive to nutrients and the blood flow to the exercise muscles remains high, a window of opportunity exists to aid muscular growth and recovery. Even a high protein meal will not put significant levels of amino acids into your blood stream until a couple of hours after you eat. The value of supplemented amino acids is that they do not require digestion. They are free of chemical bonds to other molecules and so move quickly through the stomach and into the small intestine, where they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.