Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. The main components of these organic compounds are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. Apart from these essential elements, a number of amino acids contain other elements in their side chains. Amino acids form the basic building blocks of body tissues. They are needed for growth, development and repair of body cells. They are required for the synthesis of enzymes and hormones and for almost every body function.
Several amino acids are manufactured in the human body, whereas others are obtained from dietary sources. According to the requirement of the human body, amino acids are divided into three categories – essential amino acids, conditional amino acids and nonessential amino acids.
Your body cannot manufacture nine amino acids that are essential for the body. Hence, their requirement can only be met through foods and supplements containing these essential amino acids. Although certain amino acids are normally manufactured in the body, during illnesses you may need additional amounts of these amino acids. These amino acids known as conditional amino acids are readily available in protein rich foods and supplements. As the nonessential amino acids are synthesized in the body, supplementation with these amino acids is not required.
Amino acid supplements contain either a single amino acid or a combination of amino acids. Supplements containing essential and conditional amino acids are recommended for treating health disorders that are associated with deficiency of prominent amino acids.
Amino Acids Supplements
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It supports development and functioning of several body organs. It plays an important role in maintaining the functioning of the brain. It is needed for manufacturing the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates mood and controls transmission of signals between neurons.
Although this amino acid is readily available in plant and animal food products, supplementation with L-tryptophan is recommended for easing the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, depression, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), anxiety, facial pain and teeth grinding. L-tryptophan supplement helps to quit smoking. It also helps to improve endurance, stamina and performance in athletes.
Although L-tryptophan dietary supplements are well tolerated by most people, in some cases it can cause a serious neurological problem called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. Heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and gas are other possible side effects of L-tryptophan supplement.
This essential amino acid is associated with numerous metabolic processes. Histidine supplements are recommended for treating anemia associated with kidney disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, allergic reactions and ulcers. You can take up to 4 grams of histidine daily. Supplementation with histidine is not linked to adverse side effects. People suffering from folic acid deficiency should avoid histidine supplement, as this amino acid triggers production of a harmful chemical.
Leucine is an essential amino acid that stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Supplementation with leucine inhibits degradation of muscle protein. In elderly people, this amino acid slows down loss of protein muscle mass. Bodybuilders can take leucine supplement for boosting lean muscle. It may also curb hunger craving. Although leucine is considered safe, in some cases it may cause neurological disorder.
Lysine supplement is taken to treat cold sores. It is taken orally or applied directly to the cold sores. This essential amino acid works by inhibiting growth of the herpes virus.
Some studies suggest that supplementation with lysine can boost athletic performance. Lysine supplement is usually considered safe. However, in a small number of cases it causes diarrhea and stomach pain.
The essential amino acid isoleucine helps to repair muscles. It improves endurance and boosts stamina. Supplementation with isoleucine is recommended for bodybuilders. It helps to increase the duration of workouts and eases recovery after training sessions. This amino acid is considered safe for most people.
Methionine is an essential amino acid. It supports a wide range of cellular function. It is especially beneficial for the health of the liver. Methionine supplement is recommended for preventing liver damage from acetaminophen poisoning. Supplementation with methionine can also diminish risk of colon cancer.
This amino acid is recommended for treating schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, depression, allergic diseases, side effects of radiation, asthma, alcoholism and symptoms of drug withdrawal.
Although considered safe when taken in small doses according to the instruction of the physician, large doses of methionine increase risk of brain damage and may elevate the homocysteine level in the blood.
This essential amino acid plays an important role in repair, growth and metabolism of muscles. It also serves as a source of energy for the muscles. Valine supplement is usually well tolerated.
The essential amino acid threonine is required for maintaining the health and functioning of the nervous system. In the body, threonine is converted into glycine, a chemical that stimulates the brain to prevent unwanted muscle contractions or spasticity. Supplementation with threonine is recommended for treating multiple sclerosis and spinal spasticity. You can take 2 to 4 grams of the amino acid in the form of supplements daily for not more than a year.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters. Supplementation with phenylalanine helps to reduce depression, symptoms of attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder and pain.
Topical application of phenylalanine when combined with exposure to UVA radiation helps to treat vitiligo. Phenylalanine is well tolerated by most people.
Arginine is a conditional amino acid. By supporting dilation of blood vessels, it reduces angina in people with cardiovascular problems. Supplementation with arginine also treats erectile dysfunction, strengthens the immune system, reduces migraine, accelerates wound healing and lowers blood pressure. Asthma, nausea, diarrhea and cramps are possible side effects of arginine supplements. These supplements should be avoided by people suffering from herpes simplex virus infection.
Glutamine is widespread in the human body. Although sufficient amount of glutamine is produced in the muscles, sometimes, supplementation with glutamine is needed for treating certain health disorders. It is used for treating intestinal problems, weight loss, traumatic injuries and oral swelling and discomfort in people undergoing chemotherapy. Glutamine supplement is also recommended for treating depression, anxiety, insomnia, mood problems, side effects of cancer treatment and joint and muscle pain.