Essential Amino Acids: Nine Most Wanted!

Along the long and hard road to modern man, we have lost the ability to synthesize certain amino acids. While different hypothesis as to why this happened exist, the simple fact is that out of 20 amino acids our body needs we can produce only 11 and have to supplement the remaining nine. The elusive nine top the most wanted list of our daily nutritional rooster.

And let’s face it – our life would just not be the same without Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine and Histidine. That is – without them we would not survive in good health for long.

These nine pesky but important little molecules, the basic units of some of the major proteins in our body, are composed of little more than nitrogen, carbon, oxygen and hydrogen molecules organized together in two functional parts – amine and carboxylic acid group that give amino acids their particular properties. Nevertheless, they are in charge of facilitating some of the major metabolic reactions in our bodies. In their absence the party cannot go on and a cascade of events necessary to maintain good health cannot go forward, resulting in metabolic disorders.

To gain better understanding of just how the magic nine help us along on daily basis, let’s briefly explore their individual functions:

  • Isoleucine
    • Facilitates synthesis of hemoglobin, major blood cell components
  • Leucine
    • Promotes growth hormone synthesis and skin, bone and tissue healing
  • Lysine
    • Participates in the synthesis of enzymes and hormones, and maintains healthy nervous system functions
  • Methionine
    • Helps fats breakdown, reduces muscle degeneration and helps maintain healthy skin and nails.
  • Phenylalanine
    • Helps maintain healthy nervous system, improves memory, learning, satiety control and prevents depression.
  • Threonine
    • Maintains healthy protein levels, promotes immune system, and participates in tooth enamel and collagen synthesis.
  • Tryptophan
    • Essential for neurotransmitter serotonin synthesis, helps relieve migraines and depression.
  • Valine
    • Essential for muscle development.
  • Histidine
    • Facilities synthesis of red and white blood cells, essential for histamine synthesis, improves circulation blood flow.

As we can see, essential amino acids are, as the name implies, essential for major functions in our body. Their deficiency can cause breakdown in major metabolic pathways and lead to temporary and permanent damages, depending on magnitude and length of deficiency. To prevent associated risks, their daily supplementation is essential. But don’t go overboard. Going over recommended daily intake, essential or not, is not a good idea – especially for the bad boys of the bunch – Histidine and Valine. Sure they are fun but excessive intake can lead to unpleasant side effects and that just beats the purpose of being good.

So while some investigation may be necessary to identify foods that best satisfy daily requirements for each of nine essential amino acids, it is well worth the effort and often involves simply reading the label.

So join in the hunt for the coveted nine and reap the largest of all rewards – good health and a piece of mind. It is well worth it.

To gain more insight on foods meeting essential amino acids requirements consult Herbal Diet, a health food and supplement expert.

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