Amino Acids and Their Actions
As we discussed in the protein section, amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are vital to life. Protein is the nutrient that gives structure to virtually every living thing. For a protein to be considered a whole unit it must contain all of its amino acid array. Linking different amino acids together can create over 50,000 types of proteins and 20,000 known enzymes. Each protein has its specific amino acid signature. Approximately 20 commonly known amino acids exist. Within the human body, it is the liver which produces 80 percent of the amino acids we need to sustain life. The remaining 20 percent must be obtained from the diet and are therefore referred to as essential amino acids. These have been marked with an asterisk. Amino acids enable vitamins and minerals to act properly within our biosystems. If any of these amino acids are missing, the assimilation and utilization of other nutrients will be impaired. Today, amino acid therapy is emerging as an exciting source of therapeutic treatment. Recent studies confirm that certain amino acids when taken singly or in combination can exert the same types of medicinal effects as some prescription drugs.
Amino Acid Deficiencies Can Easily Occur
Once again, the common assumption may be that the majority of Americans get plenty of amino acids through their diets due to their high meat consumption. Just the opposite, however, may be the case. Diets that are not balanced and high on empty carbohydrates can become protein deficient. Balance is the key here. While we are well aware of the perils of a diet that is too high in protein, most of us do not eat quality protein foods. High fat red meats are not the only source of amino acids. Other protein foods, including nuts, beans, soy products, fish and eggs, are excellent sources of protein. Unfortunately the majority of Americans eat diets that are deficient in the total amino acid array we need to maintain our health.
Commercial Amino Acid Preparations
Amino acid supplements are available in single or combination form and are often part of a complete multivitamin or protein supplement formula. They come in capsules, powders or tablets and are usually derived from soy, egg or yeast protein. The term crystalline free form refers to amino acids which are extracted from grain sources such as brown rice bran. Free form amino acids are recommended in that they are rapidly assimilated.
Single Amino Acids and Their Physiological Actions
Essential amino acids those that must be obtained from dietary sources are marked with an asterisk (*).
- L-Alanine: Involved in the metabolism of glucose and recommended for hypoglycemia.
- L-Arginine*: Retards tumor growth, increases sperm count and promotes the formation of lean muscle mass and the proper formation of scar tissue. Do not take if pregnant or lactating.
- L-Asparagine: Helps nourish the central nervous system to promote emotional stability.
- L-Aspartic Acid: Boosts energy and endurance by enhancing liver toxin removal.
- L-Carnitine: Helps to prevent fatty buildup and boosts fatty acid utilization.
- L-Citrulline: Promotes energy and helps detoxify ammonia from cells.
- L-Cysteine: Detoxifies cells and is an excellent free radical scavenger which also promotes muscle mass.
- L-Cystine: Protects against copper toxicity, promotes healing and contributes to insulin formation.
- Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid: Considered a natural tranquilizer, it decreases neuron activity.
- L-Glutamic Acid: Metabolizes sugars and fats and helps to fight brain and mental disorders.
- L-Glutamine: Good for treating alcoholism, sugar cravings, epilepsy, mental disorders and ulcers.
- L-Glutathione: A powerful antioxidant which helps protect against radiation, smoke, x-rays and alcohol.
- L-Glycine: Used for bipolar depression, prostate gland, and central nervous system health.
- L-Histidine*: Repairs tissue and is good for rheumatoid arthritis, anemia and allergies.
- L-Isoleucine*: Essenti
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