Essential amino acids are those that your body cannot make on its own. As you consume proteins, your body is constantly breaking them down into their amino acid building blocks, then rebuilding the amino acids into new proteins that your body can use at that precise moment in time. What are the essential amino acids?
Histidine plays a very important role in the repair of all types of muscles and tissues. Histidine is also an integral component in the sheaths that wrap around your nerves called myelin. Without it, you may experience defects in your spinal cord or brain. Finally, histidine has been shown to protect your body against radiation and help remove excess heavy metals like iron or copper from your body. In terms of performance enhancement, it can help improve digestion prevent (and even lessen the pain of) arthritis.
Lysine is one of the most important essential amino acids, particularly when it comes to growth and development. It is vital to calcium absorption, and it helps in the production of several different antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and even collagen. Athletes need lysine because it helps to maintain the nitrogen balance within the body and helps maintain lean muscle mass when your body is tired, stressed, and fatigued.
Phenylalanine used to be a rather controversial topic since certain people with a condition called phenylketonuria can have adverse reactions to it. It stimulates the nerve system which can improve mood, it aids in memory, and may even help improve focus. It helps improve levels of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, which are important neurotransmitters that can help balance mood. It can treat arthritis and depression, and in athletes, it helps provide extra vitamin D and allows for better contraction and relaxation of the muscles.
Methionine is very, very important in the breakdown and use of fats for energy, and in turn, this can help yield a much higher level of testosterone in men. It can eliminate excess fat from the bloodstream, which means that people who get enough may have less adipose tissue. Finally, for performance enhancement, it acts as an antioxidant, and aids in the metabolizing of fat.
Leucine is the strongest of all branched-chain amino acids. When answering the question “what are the essential amino acids?”, it helps to understand that branched-chain amino acids are very important to the development, maintenance, and repair of muscle tissue. Leucine helps to heal wounds, regulates your energy, assists in preventing muscle tissue breakdown, and more. In fact, some people believe it is the absolute strongest natural anabolic agent in the world.
Isoleucine is similar to leucine in that it’s also very important in promoting muscle health and recovery, but it is one of the best amino acids out there for healing wounds. This is because it helps in the formation of hemoglobin, which is essential to the formation of blood clots. Without blood clots, your wounds would not heal.
Valine, another branched-chain amino acid, is also responsible for helping to repair and grow muscle tissue. However, it is especially good at maintaining nitrogen balance within the tissues, thereby aiding in muscle growth and recovery, and preserves the use of glucose to help improve stamina.
Threonine is difficult to get from plant sources; although it is possible, it is far more concentrated in meats, eggs, and dairy products. It helps regulate liver function, and helps maintain the immune system by assisting in the production of a variety of antibodies. In terms of performance enhancement, it helps your body absorb protein and maintain muscle mass.
Although some sources claim that there are only eight essential amino acids (those listed above), tryptophan is another that is very, very important to your body. Your body cannot produce it 100% naturally, but you can take very specific supplements that your body can use to create it. Tryptophan is important in the production of niacin and serotonin, and it plays perhaps the largest role in nitrogen retention.
What are the essential amino acids? They are the building blocks of proteins that your body cannot produce by breaking down other proteins. Because of this, it is important for you to eat a diet (read out article on foods with essential amino acids) with a wide variety of proteins from animals and plants and supplement your protein intake to make sure you’re getting all of the essentials that you need.