Amino Acids and Their Role in Healthy Bodily Functioning
What are amino acids?
The body is a marvelous, complex machine. The human body must acquire various elements or ingredients to keep the health of the body, including the organs, tissues, muscles, brain function, and skin going. Amino acids are among those molecules required for a healthy body to operate appropriately. Some amino acids are consumed through food; others are produced when protein in the body is broken down.
Amino acids combine with other amino acids to form proteins. Both amino acids and proteins are necessary for life. They are considered the building blocks of life. Proteins have their own sequence of amino acids, which relate to different functions in the body. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) help with hormone and neurotransmitter production. Hormones produced by the body help with growth, development, and metabolism (including sexual function, reproduction, and mood.) Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that go from the brain to the body. They carry messages from cell to cell. The health of neurotransmitters is dependent upon the nutrients absorbed within the body.
The body requires 21 different amino acids to function correctly. Nine (9) of these amino acids are called essential. Essential amino acids can only be consumed through the intake of food. While the body makes hundreds of amino acids, essential amino acids cannot be manufactured within the body. Again, they can only be absorbed through the intake of certain foods.
What Are The 9 Essential Amino Acids?
- Histidine: helps make a brain chemical (neurotransmitter called histamine.) Histamine is essential for immune function, digestion, sleep, and sexual function.
- Isoleucine: aids muscle metabolism and immune function, helps make hemoglobin, and regulates energy.
- Leucine: helps make protein and growth hormones. It is involved in the repair of muscle tissue, healing wounds, and regulating blood sugar levels.
- Lysine: aids in hormone production and immune function.
- Methionine: aids the body with tissue growth, metabolism, and detoxification. It also helps with the absorption of essential minerals.
- Phenylalanine: helps in the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine (responsible for affective movement, emotions, and rewards system in the brain); epinephrine and norepinephrine are adrenalines, both are a hormone and a neurotransmitter. These neurotransmitters are released in the adrenal glands. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are part of the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the emergency response system that alerts the body to danger.
- Threonine: has several functions. It is vital to collagen and elastin, which ensure healthy skin and connective tissues, as well as it aids in blood clotting and immune functions.
- Tryptophan: helps maintain nitrogen balance (allows the body to build new muscle) and assists in the production of Serotonin (mood, appetite, and sleep).
- Valine: is involved in muscle growth and tissue regeneration.
These essential amino acids are present in meat, eggs, and dairy. Some foods contain one or two essential amino acids, which is why a variety of foods are needed such as: poultry, spinach, fish, seeds, and nuts to mention a few. A variety of food is needed daily to ensure that all essential amino acids are ingested.
The Results of Amino Acid Deficiency
There are genetic conditions that are related to amino acid deficiency. These conditions are generally tested for as soon as a child is born, and treatment is determined.
However, in adults, amino acid deficiency can lead to:
- Decreased immunity
- Digestive problems
- Fertility issues
- Lower mental alertness
Some examples of conditions related to essential amino acid deficiencies:
- “Older adults may be more prone to isoleucine deficiency. This [deficiency]may cause muscle wasting and shaking…Leucine deficiency can lead to skin rashes, hair loss, and fatigue.”
- Insufficient protein digestion: When the body cannot absorb protein, the signal used by the body to understand when it has been satiated will be missing. The individual will then continue to eat.
- Overuse of antacid: Low amino acid levels can result from overuse of antacid use. This, too, can lead to overeating. Specific deficiencies in amino acids can cause stomach problems, heartburn, gas, and bloating.
- Too much of any amino acid can lead to other medical conditions. This is one example of a condition related to the body’s inability to break down/absorb/or control amino acid production. Too much homocysteine can lead to blood clots and blood vessel blockages.
There is much research being conducted to determine the use of amino acid therapy on multiple disorders such as Huntington’s disease or ADHD.
It is commonly noted that when an individual exercises, he/she/they must replenish and add additional protein to effectively recover. That is true, however, consuming more protein than the body needs can cause serious bodily harm such as dehydration and kidney damage. For example, in a study done on young and elderly subjects feeding them 4 ounces of steak was adequate to repair and build muscle mass and function. Researchers found that there was no benefit in eating a 12-ounce steak.
What Are Amino Acid Injections?
Amino acid injections can aid a deficiency in amino acids. When a client cannot get enough calories and protein in their diet, injections are utilized. Illness and recent surgery can be the cause of this deficiency. Blood and urine tests must be done to identify what amino acids are lacking. These injections must be given under the supervision of a trained physician. Some deficiencies can be eased by simple supplementations of the deficient amino acid. “However, amino acid supplementation in non-deficient states does not necessarily lead to an increased function…”
The purpose of amino acid injections is to create a balance within the body. Taking a form of amino acid such as BCAAs will not necessarily lead to greater muscle mass, for example. EAAs, and other types of amino acids are necessary for the proper absorption of the protein are also necessary. Without adequate interaction between essential amino acids and those released by the body, the antithesis of the desired result may occur– a reduction in muscle mass.
Do not just try to ingest amino acids without exploring your actual levels. The Androgenix team is trained to help you sort out the levels of amino acids in your body, how you are or are not absorbing those amino acids, and help you devise a treatment plan to correct your levels. Amino acid balance is complex. Do not self-diagnose or treat. Call one of our staff at Androgenix to discuss your concerns and needs. You will not be disappointed.
*Unless otherwise stated, individual results may vary depending on many factors not all patients “feel” or achieve the same results.