Amino acids are molecules in the body which are particularly important in the biochemistry. They are critical to life and have a variety of roles in metabolism particularly important in the function of the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are also important in other biological molecules such as co-enzymes or as precursors for biosynthesis. They are ommonly used in food technology and industry. There are also applications in production of biodegradable plastics, drugs and catalysts.
All in all amino acids are highly flexible, usable and essential parts of the overall health of individuals. In nutritional jargon there are essential amino acids or those which are indispensable to the body and must be provided through the diet. Some of the essential amino acids and include: leucine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
But, there are 20 different amino acids that are found within proteins which include both the essential and nonessential amino acids. The chemical properties of amino acids determine the biological activity of the protein. This means that the amino acids can combine in specific ways which will change the activity of the protein that is produced. As researchers learn more and more about amino acids they understand the protein structure and properties and can see complex characteristics of even a small and relatively simple proteins and how it affects the health of the individual.
Humans can produce 10 of the 20 different amino acids in the body and the others must be supplied in food. If an individual doesn’t get enough of even one of those essential amino acids it results in the degrading of proteins so the body can obtain that he amino acids which is essential. For the most part those proteins come from muscle cells. But, unlike fat and starch the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use so they must be provided in food everyday.
Those ten different amino acids which the body can produce are actually produced from parts of the essential amino acids, or those that must be eaten daily. For example cystine and tyrosine are made from the essential amino acid phenylalanine. This means that a balanced diet is a necessity to provide us with the proteins we need for cellular processes.
The proteins that we eat during the day are broken down into different sets of peptides and amino acids in both the pancreas and the small intestines. The peptides are actually chains of amino acids which are then further broken down into the component parts in the intestine. They are then transported from the intestine through the blood system and into the cells where they provide energy and are used to build and synthesize DNA. Any amino acid which is not used by the body is excreted as urine.
Amino acids are not only necessary for DNA and energy but they are also involved in the metabolism of the citric acid cycle. They help transport oxygen in the blood and are one of the underlying components of hemoglobin. Amino acids will also help vitamins to do their jobs as well as to help control enzymatic processes and hormonal activities.
In addition amino acids also act as neurotransmitters or precursors of neurotransmitters. These are chemicals that carry information from one nerve cell to the other and essentially allow the brain to communicate with other parts of the body. Unlike other substances, neurotransmitters are able to pass through the blood brain barrier and help the brain to communicate with the nerve cells throughout the body.
Some individuals may find it necessary to supplement amino acids. For instance, athletes consume nutrients at a higher rate than non-athletes and may require supplements to help build body mass, control weight and improve overall fitness. In order for an elite athlete to obtain the amount of amino acids they need for building blocks of their muscles they may have to eat more food which would put on more weight.
Many of the supplements that athletes and others use our protein supplements which are found as bars, shakes and protein powders. These supplements often contain specific amino acids to help with muscle building or which help prevent muscle deterioration during intense workouts.
In other words, without the appropriate amount of the amino acids in our bodies we are emotionally and physically fatigued and our bodies are rendered defenseless against bacterial and viral infections. Amino acids are vital to all mechanisms the life in plants or animals in a balanced diet is essential in order to build amino acids.