To find out about a particular amino
Just click on the name to go to the relevant paragraph.
You can also read about amino acids below.
| ASPARTIC ACID
| LYSINE | GLUTANIC
ACID | ALANINE
| PROLINE |
GLYCINE | CYSTEINE
| LEUCINE |
| VALINE | ORNITHINE
Acids - What do they actually do?
Amino acids are the building blocks of
protein, and unlike the two other basic nutrients –
sugar and fatty acids, amino acids contain nitrogen
– about 16%.
Because of the vital functions of these
nutrients, great care should be taken by any person
concerned about their health, to ensure that sufficient
amounts are supplied by the body in either dietary form,
or if needed by supplementation.
Protein is needed by every living organisms,
and next to water, makes up the largest portion of our
body weight since it is contained in muscles, organs,
The protein used in making up the body
is not directly derived from the diet, but the dietary
protein is broken down into amino acids, and the body
then re-constitute these amino acids into the specific
Enzymes and hormones regulating body functions
are also proteins. And amino acids are used in most
body processes from regulating the way the body works
to how the brain function - it also activates and utilize
vitamins and other nutrients.
Proteins are chains of amino acids linked
together, bound together with peptide bonds and there
are about 28 amino acids commonly referred to in human
The liver manufacture about 80% of these
amino acids, but the remaining 20% of such amino acids
must be supplied directly by the diet, and these amino
acids are referred to as the essential amino acids.
These essential amino acids are: histidine,
isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine,
threonine, tryptophan and valine.
The 80% or so others that can be manufactured
by the liver includes: alanine, arginine, asparagine,
aspartic acid, citrulline, cysteine, cystine, gamma-aminobutyric
acid, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, ornithine,
proline, serine, taurine and tyrosine.
The functioning of amino acids are interrelated,
and a balanced and steady supply of these nutrients
are needed to maintain proper body functioning.
A dietary shortage of amino acids can
impact negatively on your health - just as other stressors,
such as trauma, dug use, age, infections etc.
When the body synthesizes protein, ammonia
is formed in the liver as a waste product, and too large
amounts of protein in the diet can result in too much
ammonia being formed, and in so doing placing extra
stress on the liver and kidneys to flush it out the
Amino acid supplements come in various
forms but can essentially be divided in three types
of products – either derived from animal protein,
yeast or vegetable protein.
Most amino acids can be produced in two
forms, except for glycine, that is either a D or L form.
These letters stands for the way in which
the amino acid spiral is wound up - D is for the right
wound type and L for the mirror left winding amino acid.
Human amino acid is the L type and for
this reason many people prefer to use supplements containing
the L type amino acid.
Histidine is also a precursor of histamine, a compound
released by immune system cells during an allergic reaction.
It is needed for growth and for the repair
of tissue, as well as the maintenance of the myelin
sheaths that act as protector for nerve cells.
It is further required for the manufacture
of both red and white blood cells, and helps to protect
the body from damage caused by radiation and in removing
heavy metals from the body.
In the stomach, histidine is also helpful
in producing gastric juices, and people with a shortage
of gastric juices or suffering from indigestion, may
also benefit from this nutrient.
None known, but it is reported that an increase in the
intake of this nutrient helps with the lengthening of
orgasms and also more intense sexual enjoyment.
It is extremely useful in enhancing the immune system,
and it increases the size and activity of the thymus
gland, which is responsible for manufacturing T lymphocytes
– the much talked about T-cells, which assists
the immune system. For this reason it might be an important
nutrient for people suffering from AIDS and other malignant
diseases which suppress the immune system.
In the pancreas it is used to release
insulin and in the pituitary gland it is a component
of human growth hormone, and is used in sexual stimulants,
as people report longer and more intense orgasms when
their intake of arginine is increased.
It is also important in liver health and
assists in neutralizing ammonia in the liver, while
it is also involved in the skin and connective tissue
– making it important in healing and repair of
tissue as well as the formation of collagen as well
as building of new bone and tendons.
Arginine is found in seminal fluid and
L-arginine is used in the treatment of male sexual health
and has been used in the treatment of sterility.
It is required in muscle metabolism –
maintaining the nitrogen balance, and helping with weight
control since it facilitates the increase of muscle
mass, while reducing body fat.
Rare – but signs may include impaired insulin
production as well as possible hair loss.
It is of paramount importance in the metabolism during
construction of other amino acids and biochemicals in
the citric acid cycle. Among the biochemicals that are
synthesized from aspartic acid are asparagine, arginine,
lysine, methionine, threonine, isoleucine, and several
It is needed for stamina, brain and neural
health and assists the liver by removing excess ammonia
and other toxins from the bloodstream. It is also very
important in the functioning of RNA, DNA, as well as
the production of immunoglobulin and antibody synthesis.
Symptoms may include fatigue and depression.
It is required to help maintain the proper protein balance
in the body, as well as assist in the formation of collagen
It is further involved in liver functioning
(including fighting fatty liver), lipotropic functions
when combined with aspartic acid and methionine as well
as assisting the immune system by helping the production
of antibodies and promotes thymus growth and activity.
Other nutrients are also better absorbed
when threonine is present, and it has also been used
as part treatment of mental health.
It is a precursor of isoleucine and imbalance may result
if the synthesis rate from asparate is incorrect.
In humans, deficiency may results in irritability and
a generally difficult personality.
It is required for growth and bone development in children,
assists in calcium absorption and maintaining the correct
nitrogen balance in the body and maintaining lean body
mass. Furthermore it is needed to produce antibodies,
hormones, enzymes, collagen formation as well as repair
Since it helps with the building of muscle
protein, it is useful for patients recovering from injuries
and recovery after operations, and there might be use
in lysine to help maintain healthy blood vessels. It
also seems to assist in fighting herpes and cold sores.
Although a deficiency of lysine is rare, since it is
found in so many protein foods, the symptoms may include
anemia, enzyme disorders, lack of energy, hair loss,
bloodshot eyes, weight loss and retarded growth as well
as reproductive problems, poor appetite and poor concentration.
It is an important excitatory neurotransmitter and glutamic
acid is also important in the metabolism of sugars and
It helps with the transportation of potassium
across the blood-brain barrier, although itself does
not pass this barrier that easily. It also shows promise
in the future treatment of neurological conditions,
ulcers, hypoglycemic come, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy,
Parkinson's, and mental retardation.
Glutamic acid can be used as fuel in the
brain, and can attach itself to nitrogen atoms in the
process of forming glutamine, and this action also detoxify
the body of ammonia. This action is the only way in
which the brain can be detoxified from ammonia.
The fluid produced by the prostate gland
also contains amounts of glutamic acid, and may play
a role in the normal function of the prostate.
It is required for the metabolism of glucose and tryptophan
and beta-alanine is a constituent of vitamin B5 (pantothenic
acid) as well as coenzyme A. It has also demonstrated
a cholesterol-reducing effect in rats.
People suffering from Epstein Barr (also sometimes referred
to as glandular fever) as well as chronic fatigue syndrome,
has been linked to excessively high levels of alanine
while having low levels of tyrosine and phenylalanine.
Proline is one of the cyclic aliphatic amino acids that
is a major component of the protein collagen, the connective
tissue structure that binds and supports all other tissues.
Proline is synthesized from glutamic acid
prior to its incorporation into pro-collagen during
messenger RNA translation. After the pro-collagen protein
is synthesized, it is converted by posttranslational
modification into hydroxyproline.
On a molar basis proline is incorporated
into protein at a rate of 4.2 percent with respect to
other amino acids.
It is required to build protein in the body and synthesis
of nucleic acids, the construction of RNA as well as
DNA, bile acids and other amino acids in the body. It
is further found to be useful in aiding the absorption
of calcium in the body.
It helps in retarding degeneration of
muscles since it helps to supply extra creatine in the
It is also found in fairly large amounts
in the prostate fluid and may for this reason be important
in prostate health.
The glycine amino acid is also used by
the nervous system and its function as an inhibitory
neurotransmitter makes it important to help prevent
epileptic seizures and is also used in the treatment
of manic depression and hyperactivity.
Few people are glycine deficient, in part because the
body makes its own supply of the non-essential amino
acids, and because it is abundant in food sources.
Your skin, as well as for detoxification of your body,
requires cysteine. It is found in beta-keratin, the
main protein in nails, skin as well as hair. It not
only is important in collagen production but also assists
in skin elasticity and texture.
Cysteine is also required in the manufacture
of the amino acid taurine and is a component of the
antioxidant gluthione. It is useful to detoxify the
body from harmful toxins and help protect the brain
and liver from damage from alcohol, drugs etc.
It has also be found that it may help
in strengthening the protective lining of the stomach
as well as intestines, which may help prevent damage
caused by aspirin and similar drugs.
Cysteine is also critical to the metabolism
of a number of essential biochemicals including coenzyme
A, heparin, biotin, lipoid acid, and glutathione.
No direct deficiencies have been reported as such.
It is used in elevating the mood since it is so closely
involved with the nervous system, as well as help with
memory and learning and has been used as appetite suppressant.
People suffering from Parkinson's disease
It is DLPA (or the D- or L-form alone) is used to treat
depression and the D form may also be helpful in the
treatment of Parkinson's disease and chronic pain in
both osteo-arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis with mixed
results Increases blood levels of norepinephrine, epinephrine
and dopamine - all three required for neurotransmission.
Dietary deficiency is rare but symptoms may include
lethargy, edema, weakness, skin lesions as well as liver
damage and slow growth. A deficiency in diet would only
occur with very an extremely low protein intake.
It assists in the breakdown of fats and thereby prevents
the buildup of fat in the arteries, as well as assisting
with the digestive system and removing heavy metals
from the body since it can be converted to cysteine,
which is a precursor to gluthione, which is of prime
importance in detoxifying the liver.
The amino acid methionine is also a great
antioxidant as the sulfur it supplies inactivates free
radicals. It is also used to treat depression, arthritis
pain as well as chronic liver disease - although these
claims are still under investigation. Some studies have
also indicated that methionine might improve memory
It is also one of the three amino acids
needed by the body to manufacture creatine monohydrate,
a compound essential for energy production and muscle
Severe deficiency may manifest in dementia, while lesser
deficiencies may be known by symptoms like fatty liver,
slow growth, weakness, edema and skin lesions.
Leucine helps with the regulation of blood-sugar levels,
the growth and repair of muscle tissue (such as bones,
skin and muscles), growth hormone production, wound
healing as well as energy regulation. It can assists
to prevent the breakdown of muscle proteins that sometimes
happen after trauma or severe stress. It may also be
beneficial for individuals with phenylketonuria-a condition
in which the body cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine
Deficiency of this nutrient is rare, since all protein
foods contains it, but vegans and vegetarians without
adequate protein sources may suffer from a deficiency.
Hypoglycemia symptoms may appear if the diet is deficient
and may include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, irritability
Isoleucine, together with the other two branched-chain-amino-acids
promote muscle recovery after physical exercise and
on its own it is needed for the formation of hemoglobin
as well as assisting with regulation of blood sugar
levels as well as energy levels. It is also involved
in blood-clot formation.
Deficiency of isoleucine is only found in people deficient
in dietary protein but symptoms may include headaches,
dizziness, fatigue, depression, confusion as well as
irritability. Symptoms of deficiency may mimic the symptoms
of hypoglycemia. This nutrient has also been found to
be deficient in people with mental and physical disorders,
but more research is required on this.
It has a stimulating effect and is needed for muscle
metabolism, repair and growth of tissue and maintaining
the nitrogen balance in the body.
Since it is a branched-chain amino acid,
it can be used as an energy source in the muscles, and
in doing so preserves the use of glucose.
Many amino acids become deficient with
drug addiction, and here it also plays an important
role and there are indications that it may also be beneficial
in treating or reversing hepatic encephalopathy, or
alcohol related brain damage, as well as degenerative
Ornithine is important since it induce the release of
growth hormone in the body, which in turn helps with
fat metabolism. It is further required for a properly
functioning immune system and liver and assists in ammonia
detoxification and liver rejuvenation.
It is also of use in healing and repairing
skin and tissue and is found in both these body parts.
There are some unsupported claims that ornithine promotes
muscle building, but this has not been proven.
Since the body can produces ornithine, a deficiency
of this non-essential amino acid is rare.
This amino acid is required for the production of niacin
(vitamin b3). It is used by the human body to produce
serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is important for
normal nerve and brain function. Serotonin is important
in sleep, stabilizing emotional moods, pain control,
inflammation, intestinal peristalsis, etc.
It is further important in controlling
hyperactivity in children, assists in alleviating stress,
helps with weight loss and reducing appetite. It has
also been found that people suffering from migraine
headaches have abnormal levels of tryptophan, and in
this supplementation may be helpful.
A shortage of this amino acid, combined
with a shortage of magnesium may be a contributing factor
to heart artery spasms.
Assists the immune system by introducing additional
interferon into the body
Diminishes the viral load of many viruses (Epstein-Barr,