What do each of the Amino Acids do in the body?
This is a difficult question to answer in a brief statement because amino acids are critical to almost every function in the human body. However below is a list of some amino acids and some of their typical functions within the body.
The essential amino acids:
Plays a pivotal role in the energy supply of muscle tissue, which is particularly critical during periods of extensive exercise or in acute hunger periods.
Unless present in sufficient quantity in the blood, the body will access its storage reserves, which will inevitably lead to a reduction of muscle mass and L-Leucine reserves. This effect must be avoided by athletes trying to build muscle mass.(3)
Plays a central role in the metabolism of muscle tissue therefore contributing to both its generation and preservation. It is an important building block for many proteins and therefore supports various healing processes. A deficiency, however, can also be caused by a lack of Vitamin B6.(3)
Plays a particularly important role in the immune system.
It is also involved in protein biosynthesis, especially in building collagen together with the amino acids Glycine and Proline. An Lysine deficiency may therefore result in broken skin, fragile nails and in extreme cases loss of hair.
Lysine is thought to reduce the processing of arginine of the herpes virus, because both amino acids use the same transport system. In cases of herpes infections arginine should be consumed together with Lysine. There is also evidence that it increases the effectiveness of arginine, because it slows down the transition of arginine from the vascular system into the muscle cells.(4)
There is also evidence that Lysine can reduce blood sugar in Diabetes Type 2 patients.(5)
Plays many roles in the body as it is the only amino acid containing sulphur. This effects many areas one prominent one being joint health because joint cartilage because it requires sulphur for its production. Studies of both healthy and arthritic patients show that healthy people have 3 times the level of sulphur than those suffering arthritic conditions.(7)
Methionine also plays a pivotal role in many neurotransmitters and the production of hair and nails(8)
Has lots of positive effects on the human body, it can be used to combat certain medical conditions and contribute to recovery. Several studies have already been carried out in order to confirm these assumptions, and have convincingly proven the effectiveness of essential amino acids.
A study in 2010 examined, for example, to what extent Tryptophan can halt the spread of a common liver condition (steatohepatitis).(9)
Furthermore, this essential amino acid has positive effects on irritable bowel syndrome.(10) The less Tryptophan there is in the body, the more serious the symptoms of this condition; Tryptophan can therefore be used to relieve irritable bowel syndrome.
Finally, this protein substance has already been proven to be very effective in combating depression, and it has become the most important anti-depressant which does not have side effects.(11)
The non essential amino acids:
Is a critical player in the body’s protein biosynthesis and has certain regulatory functionality. Muscle protein consists of approximately 6% of L-alanine. 30% of the L-alanine in the blood is synthesised by muscle, which demonstrates its importance to the overall metabolism.
Alanine also helps to support the immune system and prevent kidney stones. Alanine has been shown in studies to protect the prostate gland and is even thought to be a potential treatment for prostate cancer.(12)
Alanine was also shown in a 2002 study to be beneficial to the condition of diabetes.(13)
This is one of the most well known amino acids and it has a host of well known and documented benefits for the human body such as:
- as a natural virility remedy for the treatment of erectile disorders (erectile dysfunction)
- to contribute significantly to the health of the overall vascular system lowering the risk of strokes and heart attack
- encourage healthy muscle growth
- to lower hypertension (high blood pressure)
- to strengthen the immune system
- to improve insulin resistance in cases of diabetes
- helps to maintain fats and cholesterols at healthy levels
- as an accompanying treatment for arteriosclerosis (vascular calcification)
- to improve the blood flow in capillaries (e.g. in cases of tinnitus or hair loss)
- prevent unwanted blood clotting such as in heart attacks
- to facilitate and restore memory and learning
In 1998 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was won by Luis Ignarro, Robert Furchgott and Ferid Murad for their research on the benefits of Nitric Oxide (NO) and its primary reactant - Arginine.
Cysteine has many roles in the body but one notable one is its role in helping the body to produce Glutathione which helps to protect tissues and organs and has an anti ageing role in the body through protection of cells. Cysteine helps to eliminate free radicals and plays a role in keeping our blood healthy and our immune system strong.
Cysteine is also being used to help treat osteoporosis because it was proved in a study that osteoporosis sufferers had lower levels of Cysteine.(14)
Used enormously throughout the body it represents 60% of the free amino acids in the body. Glutamine plays many roles in healthy skin and crucially is used to keep our bodies acid alkaline balance in check. Glutamine is vital in the bodies energy and immune system as it can be converted into energy when the body needs to. As an important regulator Glutamine plays a role in good concentration and sleep as well.
The preventative and therapeutic potential of histidine has not yet been fully explored, although several studies have already been carried out which have proven the effectiveness of this vital substance in medical treatment.
Histidine Can Lower Blood Pressure it was discovered that this amino acid can lower the blood pressure. (15) As histidine relaxes the blood vessels, it can get rid of hypertension and help prevent cardiovascular conditions, such as arteriosclerosis and heart attacks.
Researchers also proved that the daily consumption of a nutritional supplement containing histidine can reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions by up to 60.9%.
A further area where the use of histidine supplements is important is the treatment of chronic kidney failure, which is particularly common among the elderly. A low concentration of histidine in the blood plasma increases the inflammatory activity of the body and leads to a rise in oxidative stress, so supplementation of histidine is directly associated with a reduced mortality rate. (16)
Furthermore, it has recently been discovered that histidine, in combination with zinc (which is made easier to absorb into the body by the amino acid), can be effective against colds. A study was carried out with over 40 participants to investigate to what extent the intake of zinc and histidine can minimise the duration of a viral or bacterial infection. The researchers came to the conclusions that the consumption of both these vital substances together shortens the length of a common cold by an average of 3.6 days. (17)