To function optimally, your body needs up to 20 amino acids – including several essential amino acids. Different types of food lead to you getting 9 amino acids that are essential for your health. These are absorbed by your body.
In addition, there are 11 other amino acids that, as long as you are in good health, are produced by your body. For example, your body breaks down proteins after you ingest them through your diet, part of which is used for the production of such body's own amino acids.
This is what amino acids do in your body
Amino acids are important for the transport and storage of nutrients, the production of new cells, digestion, the transmission of signals to nerves, building muscle, and the production of energy.
You also make connective tissue with the help of amino acids and healthy bones are created. In addition, it supports wound healing and recovery. In short, you cannot do without the right amino acids.
In this article, we, therefore, describe which 9 essential amino acids are crucial for good health.
Health Benefits of Essential Amino Acids
Both the production of the 11 body amino acids, as well as the 9 essential amino acids that end up in your body through your diet, contribute to the creation of many health benefits.
Once the proteins are broken down into amino acids, they are linked together by the body to support various bodily functions. You thus reduce the risk of contracting diseases and optimize the transport of sufficient nutrients throughout your body.
If you are deficient in amino acids, this can potentially result in a lowered immune system, gastrointestinal complaints, fertility issues, feelings of depression, lowered mental alertness, delayed growth in children, and many other health problems.
Taking in enough essential amino acids is therefore important to stay healthy and resilient.
9 types of essential amino acids
As mentioned, nine amino acids must be taken in through your diet, to ensure the proper functioning of the body. All amino acids can be divided into three categories, namely:
- Non-essential amino acids. Your body can make these itself, without you having to consume anything special;
- Semi-essential amino acids. These are not sufficiently produced by your own body;
- Essential amino acids, which must be obtained from the nutrients contained in certain foods.
The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.
Each of these amino acids has various functions in the body, to which the symptoms of a possible deficiency can also be linked. Each of these essential amino acids will be described below so that you can determine if you may need supplementation.
This amino acid promotes the growth and formation of blood cells and contributes to tissue repair. To optimally protect the nerve cells, histidine coats these cells with a layer called “myelin”.
In the body, histidine is converted to histamine and contributes to a healthy immune and reproductive system and a well-functioning digestive system. It usually does not lead to complaints in people with histamine intolerance.
It is also possible to achieve a reduced BMI score, as well as to achieve optimal insulin resistance, making it one of the essential amino acids that should not be missing.
A lack of histidine manifests itself, for example, in anemia and lowered blood values. This is often seen in people with arthritis and kidney failure. It is therefore never wrong to have a blood test now and then so that you know whether certain blood values are lowered.
A deficiency of isoleucine is usually more quickly detected in older people than in young adults. It manifests itself mainly in twitching muscles.
This amino acid is necessary for maintaining an effective immune system, proper blood sugar regulation, and healthy hormone production.
In addition, isoleucine supports the recovery of injuries in and to the body.
It is one of the essential amino acids and especially in situations where the body is under stress, it soothes the increased susceptibility to inflammation.
Leucine is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels as well as the growth and repair of tissue in many parts of the body, such as the skin, bones, and muscles.
In addition, it produces growth hormones, making leucine one of the essential amino acids. In other words, this amino acid is an essential component that contributes to optimal health.
Leucine has a great effect on the stimulation of protein synthesis and provides the body with additional energy when the body experiences stress.
In addition, it maintains a proper nitrogen balance in your body. In case of a deficiency, this is visible as a rash on the skin, hair loss, and fatigue.
Lysine contributes to the synthesis of proteins, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. It also helps to build strong connective tissue, because it promotes elastin and collagen production.
Thanks to this amino acid, your body is also able to absorb more calcium and reduce calcium excretion. Strong connective tissue and healthy bones are important for growth and recovery in athletes or the elderly.
It also improves iron absorption, carbohydrate metabolism, and appetite. A deficiency of lysine as one of the essential amino acids often manifests itself in unrest that is accentuated during stress, for example.
In other words, reducing stress could be achieved by increasing the lysine level in the body. This should logically be done in close consultation with a medical specialist.
Together with the non-essential amino acid cysteine, methionine promotes the health and flexibility of the skin and hair. It gives you stronger nails, as it promotes the absorption of selenium and zinc and helps to remove harmful metals, such as lead or mercury.
If you are deficient in methionine, your nails break quickly and your hair is more likely to have split ends.
Through phenylalanine, other amino acids, proteins, and enzymes are better absorbed by the body. Once converted to tyrosine, it contributes to improved brain functions.
A deficiency of this amino acid leads to obesity, eczema, and memory loss. However, if you consume too much of it, it results in anxiety attacks and an unbalanced sleep pattern.
When your body is not able to process this amino acid, you have to be careful with food in which it is frequently present. Discuss this with a dietitian or your doctor.
7. Threonine is one of the essential amino acids
One of the essential amino acids is threonine, which ensures healthy skin and strong teeth. It also helps to break down fat and provides relief from digestive problems, anxiety attacks, and mild depression.
If you are deficient in this amino acid, you will find yourself with a weakened immune system.
You may be able to combat insomnia if you make sure you get enough tryptophan. This essential amino acid regulates your sleep, appetite, moods, and sensation of pain.
It improves your mental energy and balances your emotions. With a deficiency, you can contract a condition called “pellagra”. Many symptoms are the result of a deficiency of this essential amino acid.
For example, you deal with nerve and skin problems, as well as experience insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Ultimately, you may become demented or have digestive problems.
In short, a shortage of tryptophan should be remedied as soon as possible.
To stay mentally strong, valine should not be missing from your diet as one of the essential amino acids.
It also helps with proper coordination of muscles, muscle building, tissue repair, and energy generation.
A deficiency can lead to fatigue and reduced mental toughness.
Essential amino acids in food
In this article, we have looked at the possible health problems that can arise from a lack of the right amino acids. For example, a too low intake of the essential amino acids leads to loss of muscle strength; particularly in the elderly.
Fortunately, you can make sure to supplement your diet with foods rich in amino acids. You can combine foods such as meat, eggs, dairy products with different types of vegetables or rice.
When you consume these types of foods throughout the day, these foods can provide you with all 9 essential amino acids you need to stay physically and mentally fit.
Enough reasons to focus your attention on a careful intake of these necessary amino acids.